By chance, I reached Season 7, Episode 7 – The Debate – at the same time as Cameron was attempting to weasel his way out of a debate with Ed Miliband in the lead-up to May 7.
You will recall that in this episode Senator Arnold Vinick, played by Alan Alda, challenged Congressman Matt Santos, Jimmy Smits, to throw out the format which had been carefully negotiated by their representatives and engage in a “real” debate. They did so, with Smits and Alda improvising the debate and in so doing bringing to prime time television what one could allow oneself to believe was a genuine debate about real differences on real issues: the role of the state, illegal immigration, gun control, Africa, the ideologies of liberalism and conservatism.
Of course, it was a fiction. In real life, one doesn’t get a real debate.
And now, Cameron is ensuring that we don’t even get the pretence of it.
Is it because they have no such vision? Or is it, as I suspect, that they do have a vision but believe it would not be politically expedient to share it with those of us who put them in a position to privatise the NHS, tax the poor, give tax breaks to the rich, and continue to create a society which defies the meaning of the word?
"I think we've been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it's the government's job to cope with it. 'I have a problem, I'll get a grant.' 'I'm homeless, the government must house me.' They're casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society.”
That famous quote from Thatcher is the essence of this government’s ideology. And the examples she gave are damning.
She didn’t say, ‘I have a problem, I’ll get a bail-out.’ She didn’t say, ‘I have a problem, I’ll get a bonus.’ She didn’t say, ‘I have a problem, I’ll get a tax cut’.
She turned her scorn on the homeless.
Cameron and Osborne have learned the words that express empathy, but do not feel it and do not show it by their actions.
In a real debate, that might be exposed. Personally, I doubt it. But it’s worth a try.
Today from the everysmith vaults: Leo Kottke. Sensational 12 string playing. Do not pass Go. Go directly to Concert Vault and listen.