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Writing in the Observer on 14 October, the paper's chief political correspondent Andrew Rawnsley presented readers with a composite of the speeches given by the leaders of the three main parties at their recent conferences. It is an amusing swipe at the banalities and dog-whistles of political rhetoric, which you can read here: http://bit.ly/UVtj78 but it is also a reminder of something ugly and delusional which underlies that rhetoric.
The government wants “To set our country back on the path to prosperity that all can share in” and “mend a broken society”, claimed UK Prime Minister David Cameron at the Conservative Party conference on 10 October. Despite national policies inflicting deepening misery on the poorest in society, and promises by his ministers of more of the same, he was seeking to portray his leadership as compassionate and inclusive.
Several news stories coincided recently to graphically illustrate the terrible inequalities in our global village.
In London, and in other rich cities around the world, people queued for days to be the first to buy the new Apple iPhone 5. Not everybody was queuing to buy for themselves. Some people (plebs?) were being paid hundreds of pounds to stand in line for days on behalf of other, presumably richer individuals, who had better things to do with their time.
“Even the burial of his body in the Abbey was a species of theft when you come to think of it”. George Orwell's words came into my mind as I watched the ceremonies surrounding today's 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens.
“It's aw a muddle, lass. Aw a muddle.” This was the dying lament of Stephen Blackpool, the power-loom operator of Hard Times who was driven to physical and emotional ruin by the ruthless economic and industrial system of his day.
A few weeks ago I had a holiday in India. I used to live there and so I might be one of the few foreigners who actually loves arriving in Delhi, stepping out of the airport into the cruel heat, sooty air and architecture of the perpetually half-built.