Antagonism/agonism

It appears obligatory for newspapers to be ranting one way or the other about the budget today, and as always (apart from lone voices like the true-red Mirror and the ever-esoteric Independent) Alistair Darling is being slated. As was Gordon Brown before him of course, as was Ken Clarke, and Norman Lamont, and Nigel Lawson, no doubt right back to Hervey de Stanton. And it’s healthy politics to do so, because antagonism equals deliberation equals progress. Or does it?

Interviewed by Evan Davies this morning on the Today show, the ascendant George Osborne was revelling in the lack of spending cuts and the over-reliance on taxation, as though this was news from what is ostensibly a left-centre government. His argument was that (as per the OECD) the cuts:tax ratio should be 80:20, rather than the 66:33 of Darling’s budget. But where’s the actual difference there? 5 billion pounds is a lot to me, but in the grand scheme of things, that doesn’t mean a huge difference to the average punter. Would Osborne’s budget work better than AD’s? Will Labour save the day? Neither. Both are going to whinge and whine whatever the outcome, and once again leave the burden (fiscal or otherwise) on someone else. The ‘post-politics’ of Chantal Mouffe is ever more real – nothing gets done outside of an accepted consensus of things that can be done.

There is, now more than ever, I think little difference between the two major parties: the Conservatives advocate exactly the same things as Labour, just a bit nastier, and a bit worse for everyone except the really well-off (which is why you should never vote for them). Both parties (and the others as well) have framed it so that to criticise something old-fashioned called ‘capitalism’ marks you out as a bit of an eccentric, who doesn’t know his place in the modern world. Eccentric I may be then, but the eternal quest for cold, hard money, whoever has it, doesn’t earn my respect. I’m off to do some research as to who I might vote for that’s neither of them. Give me Tito any day.

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