Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho!

The magic of Disney is to take an old, hackneyed tale, and add a populist twist. It’s a formula which has been successful since the first full-length toon of 1937: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Yes, folks: that’s the proper spelling of the title.

The knack there, apart from the archetypal mix of schmaltz and scary, …

Aside, trivia from imdb:

Was the first of many Disney films to have its premiere engagement at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall. At the end of the film’s initial engagement there, all the velvet seat upholstery had to be replaced. It seems that young children were so frightened by the sequence of Snow White lost in the forest that they wet their pants, and consequently the seats, at each and every showing of the film.

… was giving the persons of restricted growth individual characters through the shorthand of naming them. According to the movie trivialists, several dozen names were debated for the iconic Seven.

Which brings us to the present ConDem cabinet, that compote of failed PR snake-oilersinterior decorators and private health hucksters. It takes a nano-second to recognise  Snooty, SneeryBaldy and Dozy in this batch.

It is moot whether Theresa May (who has swanned through a less-troubled year at the Home Office, something unprecedented in recent history) should audition for Snow White or Queen or the Witch — but isn’t it somehow appropriate that her maiden name was Brasier? Either way, should Snooty fall under the proverbial bus (or, more likely, under the increasing displeasure of his own back-benches) May is regarded as worth a punt in the leadership stakes.

And then there’s Grumpier

The feastdays of “Saint Vince” are long since over and done.

Yet, the suspicion remains that some shreds of the honest man linger in the den of rogues. That he has survived in the Cabinet this long testifies to a low threshold of embarrassment. He clearly is the left man in the right job in the wrong government.

His interview for today’s Guardian should be seminal, going far beyond the ConDem mantra that it’s all the fault of the previous tenants:

He said: “We have had a very, very profound crisis which is going to take a long time to dig out of. It is about the deficit, but that is only one of the symptoms. We had the complete collapse of a model based on consumer spending, a housing bubble, an overweight banking system – three banks each of them with a balance sheet larger than the British economy. It was a disaster waiting to happen and it did happen. It has done profound damage and it is damage that is going to last a long time.”

Some of us have been saying much the same, in different contexts, ever since, in 1962, Dean Acheson noted that Britain had lost its Empire without finding a rôle. C. Northcote Parkinson had anticipated Acheson by five years, noting that colonial bureaucrats proliferated as colonies reduced, and proposing that one day British admirals would outnumber British ships.

Recent posturings in Iraq, Afghanistan and now Libya trebly underline the persistence of all that. Even so, the military machine demands more submarines, bigger missiles, larger aircraft carriers and glossier medal-encrusted uniforms.

Vince’s torpedo

One bit bites the ConDem hand that feeds him:

It is about the deficit, but that is only one of the symptoms. We had the complete collapse of a model based on consumer spending, a housing bubble, an overweight banking system – three banks each of them with a balance sheet larger than the British economy.

Deep breath.

If there was a single moment in the banking crisis when the whole thing went pear-shaped for Britain, it wasn’t the implosion of the US sub-primes. Even Northern Rock (destroyed by its link with Lehman Brothers) was containable. It was when the Irish Government guaranteed, in totality, deposits in the Irish banks. The knock-on was instant — the Conservative opposition (until then, arch-deregulators) and Sneery-the-putative-18th-baronet loudest in demanding the British government follow suit.

A crisis of over-production

Where western capitalism has been supremely successful is in the production of capital. That has been over an extended period when economic growth in the Western economies has been sluggish. All that loose capital had to go somewhere. It went into property speculation. Therein lies Vince’s unholy trinity of consumer debt, ghost estates and bust banks.

Many of us, too, saw the germs of this disease in the de-industrializing of Britain. The Thatcherites reckoned Britain didn’t really need to produce things: it was the service economy that mattered. Buy in the cheapest world markets, sell at a profit to a home market (financed by credit-cards), wax fat on the difference.

Now Vince recognises that game is well and truly up:

He predicted the impact on people’s lives will not come primarily from government spending cuts, but the squeeze in living standards caused by world prices and a 20% devaluation of sterling against other major currencies.

Without questioning the growth forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility, he stressed the uncertainty of external factors. “We cannot predict what is going to happen in the eurozone, and how that is going to impact on us, and we cannot predict what is going to happen to oil prices.

That looks like a draft of ConDem Apologia #2.0: it’s all the fault of those pesky world markets. A year ago Gordon Brown was derided for that: now it’s handy-dandy:

Hark, in thine ear: change places; and, handy-dandy, which is the justice, which is the thief?

All-in-all, let’s be grateful for Vince as a national monument. If there is any hope of curtailing Sneery, the Mad Axe-Man, Vince is it. Who else in this present Cabinet of Dwarfs would venture to voice the K-word:

“What is not often acknowledged is that there is a lot of flexibility built into current policy. The main element of flexibility is in monetary policy and the second is the basic Keynesian stabilisers. That is the way the government is functioning. We are not trying to maintain budget balance come what may. If the economy slows down, the deficit temporarily has to rise to take account of cyclical change, flexibility is built in.”

You almost want to believe him.

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Filed under advertising., Britain, David Cameron, economy, Fianna Fail, films, Gordon Brown, Guardian, social class, Steve Bell, Theresa May, Tories., Vince Cable

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