So it has come to this. The bright ambitions of the previous government that it could spend money both to fix problems at home and to strut a role on the global stage have hit the hard reality of huge debts.And now we are all paying for it. Did you enjoy Axe Wednesday, Labour pols?
Course you did. You’ll be OK, no mater what, won’t you?
You can look at this in two ways. You can see it as a course correction, a violent one to be sure, but one essentially made necessary by past errors. This is the idea that we have to get back on track, that doing so will be painful, but that when we do all will be hunky dory. Or you can see it as something quite new, the early stumbling stages along a path towards redefining the role of government itself – what the state in a Western society does for its citizens, and what it does not or indeed cannot do.It sounds great! Where do we sign up?
So government, here in the UK but actually everywhere in the developed world, will have to try to do more, but do it with less. But it can't. That is why these spending cuts will, I think, come to be seen as a first stage of a wider retreat. It will start to shed some responsibilities: indeed it is already starting to do so. Welfare and social housing are two clear areas where the Coalition will step back, and we will learn much, much more today.Oh, hallelujah! Calloo, callay, and all that…
Look forward 10 years and the pressures will be greater still: our workforce will probably be falling in size; the retired baby boomers will need more care; we will all have to save more for ourselves and rely less on the state; and I am afraid those debts will still be there. This is not a terrible prospect, for we will still be lucky to live in a decent democracy. But it will be a world of diminished ambitions, for politicians as for the rest of us. And it starts today.Hurrah! Lead us, Hamish, to the golden uplands of…
Clearly, no-one’s told the local councils about this New World:
Health workers were drafted into primary schools after shocking new evidence emerged about the depth of Essex’s binge-drinking culture.Yup, that’s right. Primary schools.
Children who should be more concerned with Bob the Builder than Bob the Boozer…
Donna Telfer, assistant director of public health, said: “The results show the number of younger people consuming alcohol is a lot higher than we would like it to be.Of course you do, sweetie! Just one question: who the hell made you arbiter of how much people should drink?
“A glass of wine at Christmas with parents is one thing, but these results suggest the issue goes deeper than that.”
Were you elected? I didn’t vote for you!
And in case anyone says ‘Oh, this is in the past, they’ll have to stop this now!’, there’s absolutely no sign of that happening:
Advisers will be visiting primary and secondary schools in Colchester and Tendring to educate pupils, parents and teachers.Get that: ‘now’. This, folks, is how they are spending your money, how they are going to keep spending your money, no matter what Hamish thinks.
And the teachers? Are they furious with this shoehorning of moral issues onto their charges?
Why, no. No, they aren’t:
Mo Oliver, headteacher at Home Farm Primary School, said: “They are very aware of alcohol at this age. They see the part alcohol plays in their parents’ relaxation and leisure time.How about you stick to teaching them to read, write and add up?
“I think we have to start Education much earlier now and, as a school, part of our core purpose is to help children make the right choices and decisions.”
I mean, you can’t seem to do that very well yet, so branching out is way beyond your capabilities!
In the past year, the primary care trust has also appointed school liaison workers, an alcohol nurse specialist and has teamed up with police, the probation service and fire service to fight binge drinking.The Fire Service..?
An alcohol charity said it supported the move.Quelle surprise…
Therese Lyras, a spokeswoman for Alcohol Concern, said: “The problems we are seeing with young people nowadays weren’t there in the past.Fine. Do it on your own time, without my money then…
“In general, people weren’t drinking in such a manner as they are now or drinking so much in one session.
“The earlier they start the more likely it is they will encounter problems from their drinking. We want to encourage youngsters to have a healthier attitude to alcohol.”
And this is why I’m not excited about ‘Axe Wednesday’. It isn’t going to be enough.