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Monday, March 19, 2012 

Divide and rule.

I've mentioned David Cameron's new year message a couple of times now, mainly as a wonderful example of a politician imagining that what he thinks the year should be about is also what everyone else is looking forward to. The Olympics! The glory of the diamond jubilee! Many others stuck on benefits, without hope or responsibility! Oh, that last one doesn't quite work. Never mind, you can never get enough attacks on the scroungers into a political dispatch.

Now you can also read it as portent of just what the coalition was planning. Cameron might have used the past tense when he said "we've set out big plans for the transformation of our infrastructure", but obviously his new super scheme for PFI roads was waiting in the wings. Likewise, we should have realised when he said this was the " year Britain sees the world and the world sees Britain" that it meant we would soon be encouraged do about the only thing we're still world class at - shopping. Who cares that there's never been more time to keep on consuming, the big retailers quite clearly need to be able to keep their doors open longer on a Sunday leading up to the Olympics - it just wouldn't do to turn away all those tourists with cash burning a hole in their pockets.

And to show that we are truly open for business, the 50p top rate of tax for those earning over £150,000 is to be cut. There may be "a few" at the top who "get rewards that seem to have nothing to do with the risks they take or the effort they put in", but now that Occupy has been wiped from the steps of St. Paul's we no longer need to even pay lip service to the idea that we're all in this together. The young especially can get knotted - they're not even worth an extra 11p an hour. Just to rub in it, those who live in areas that tend not to vote Tory and work in the public sector have long-term wage freezes or even cuts to look forward to. Still, as Cameron says, if only "we lift our eyes to the other side we have it in our power to come through this stronger, better balanced, focused on what this fantastic country does best". It's called divide and rule.

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