It's not just that Jinping has been welcomed in a style so sycophantic that it makes our usual shows of pageantry look restrained, it's the way in which our representatives and then those reporting it have gone about doing so also. For John Bercow and Prince Charles to be the heroes of the day, for respectively introducing Jinping while making reference to Aung San Suu Kyi, flawed as she is, and finding something else to be doing rather than attending the banquet, is something in itself. Not his old man's mutterings for Wills however, who bravely brought to the attention of Jinping the suffering of China's wildlife. Kate meanwhile wowed the tabloids by wearing red, clearly demonstrating her dedication to Marxist-Leninism, topped off with a tiara that the Chinese first lady, Peng Liyuan, probably thought a bit proletarian. Queenie for her part was given two whole albums worth of Liyuan's popular folk warblings, to be filed alongside her Slayer CDs. And while Cameron and Jinping discussed their mutual passion for keeping the workers down, being served up for their delectation was roasted loin of Balmoral venison, most likely shot by Philip himself.
This was all happening as Tata laid off workers at three of their steel plants, in part down to China dumping its own excess onto the world market at rock bottom prices. One union representative appeared on the news to state that he and the company's representatives had calculated that even if they worked for nothing, they still wouldn't be able to compete. Having boasted at the beginning of the year of the success of the steel industry thanks to the strength of the rest of the economy, any help beyond commiserations from the government has been solely lacking. Sajid Javid stood up in the Commons and stated this wasn't something governments could do much about, rather than it being something that governments have made the choice to leave to the market. In the words of Simon Crutchley, at the Scunthorpe plant collecting a delivery, "he's ruining fucking everything, Cameron".
Not that he could give a stuff. Unfortunate as it is that the nation's steel industry is collapsing just as the leader of the country principally responsible arrives to be fawned over, and bad as it looks, Dave can rest safe in the knowledge that those workers, their families and all the other people the plants will have supported are not likely to have voted Tory. It makes something of a mockery of George Osborne's beloved Northern Powerhouse™ also, but really, what's more important, Chinese investment in nukes or laughable claims about revitalising a whole area of the country? We couldn't possibly borrow the money at still historically low rates rather than put something as vital as new nukes under the control of the Chinese, and besides, doesn't it make perfect sense to ask the Chinese and French states to build power plants rather than doing so ourselves?
Our politics has become so deranged on the fiscal front that keeping on the lights has been put in the hands of a French company majority owned by the French state which has not yet completed any of the plants of the European pressurised reactor design mooted for Hinckley Point (the Chinese plants of the same design are also yet to come online). Moreover, once it is up and running, which will be 10 years time at the earliest, we'll be paying the Chinese and the French twice what the market rate was in 2012, not including inflation. This could only make sense to politicians who have made a fetish out of the deficit at the expense of everything else. The Conservatives claim to be acting in the interests of the country's economic security, and yet have concluded a deal that will see future taxpayers' money going straight into the coffers of an authoritarian state that can be trusted about as far as it can be thrown.
Like the cancelling of the contract for a training programme for guards in Saudi Arabian prisons, which led to Michael Gove being feted for his role when surely the idea ought to have been so demonstrably wrong that not helping one of the most repressive governments on the planet torture its citizens is the bare minimum we expect, so too the Chinese have promised in return for handing over vast wads of cash to not steal any British company's intellectual property. Chinese cyber-attacks are more than likely exaggerated by those with an interest in doing so, but if we're equals why on earth is such an understanding so much as required? As others have pointed out, there has been next to no debate about this sudden decision to place our faith and our infrastructure in the hands of a state that so many of our traditional allies are suspicious of, rightly or wrongly. It wouldn't be as bad if this was being done because we genuinely could not do it any other way; instead, this is a choice by politicians who are determined at the same time to renegotiate our relationship with Europe.
Forgive me then if the attention paid to reaching an arbitrary date in a film and still not having a fucking hoverboard does smack a bit of well, decadence. Just as it's a reflection on us as a people that the politicians we produce regret not their inability to stop the government of the day passing things like the bedroom tax, but instead not projecting our strength as a nation by launching a military attack that would have achieved precisely nothing. As the Roman empire collapsed, so the distractions, the circuses, became ever more exotic. This tends to be how these things end.