So once again we’ve been told to tighten our belts by a group of people who are collectively worth more than the GDP of Guam. I’d call the situation ironic but the only thing surprising about the Queen’s Speech is that there wasn’t more wealth on show while the government insisted on austerity. In fact, government policy at this point amounts to little more than taunting and suppressing the masses until the technological singularity comes, at which point the feckless poor and aspirational middle class alike will be melted down and used as lubricant for our robotic superiors.
All anti-rich bigotry aside, the “high wage, low welfare” mantra is about as clever as making toast in the bath, and could probably undergo some cuts itself — honestly, just “low welfare” would suffice. The average Tory voter couldn’t care less about their own wages as long as they earn more than the archetypal benefits scrounger, conclusively proving that Tories primarily feed off of bitterness and irrational responses to the Prisoner’s Dilemma.
With the EU referendum looming, David Cameron is trying really hard not to anger the 75.7% of the electorate that didn’t vote for him. So rather than driving the poor to suicide or alienating the NHS workforce, he’s chosen to restrict access to porn and put up the price of sugar instead — harmless policies from a government that really wants you on their side. On the other hand, prisoners — who can’t vote and are therefore fair game — will be exposed to true blue Tory reforms, meaning they will soon have the misfortune of being exposed to our shambolic mental health care system.
One sensible way to reform prisons to be more mental health friendly would be to reduce overcrowding by decriminalising drug use, but the only way that could happen in the near future is if Jeremy Corbyn is elected Prime Minister without being promptly assassinated by a US-sponsored militia. The reality, as we all know, is that “reform” is usually Toryspeak for “cuts”, and considering how the government has so far overseen an increase in suicides, sectioning and waiting times for the general population it’s hard to be hopeful for mentally ill prisoners. When it comes to the government’s approach to people with mental illness, it looks like they won’t be satisfied until the word “reform” is enough to induce nationwide anxiety attacks, like a morbid Pavlov’s Dog experiment.
Perhaps the reason this Queen’s Speech feels so underwhelming, besides the fact that its nastiest components have been put through a very soapy spin cycle, is that the country has felt existentially threatened by the Tories since the last election. From disability cuts to the Junior Doctors crisis, the population has lived under a sense of dread, followed by a last-minute U-turn, followed by more dread. At this point we’re just glad the government hasn’t announced plans to tackle child poverty by reforming every child in the country out of existence. Under this level of anxiety, tapping our phones and clamping down on free speech seems reasonable, if not benign. “Divide and rule” is so 2010 — governance by Stockholm syndrome is far more effective.
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