predictive politics (or a case of a coalition already in mourning)

Matt Carter tweets brilliantly this morning on the latest twists and turns of Tory policy:

The five stages of Tory energy policy evolution: dismiss, condemn, undermine, attack then mimic

This does of course take its lead from the “five stages of grief” theory:

The Kübler-Ross model, commonly referred to as the “five stages of grief“, is a hypothesis introduced by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross[1] and says that when a person is faced with the reality of impending death or other extreme, awful fate, he or she will experience a series of emotional stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

I wonder if Mr Carter really knows what he has suggested.  That is to say, I think the psychology of what’s happening – far more widely than simply Tory energy policy – explains exactly the dynamics in operation here.  This is a case of what we might call predictive politics: a “Minority Report” (as Boorish Johnson delights in repeating) (comment here from Nick Clegg) for what is becoming an extremely undemocratic age.

Carter is absolutely on the button to use grief as the model for Tory policy development.  For they know – deep down, even as they refuse to publicly recognise it – that they are the puff-pastry Berlin-Wall-like dictators of the second decade of the 21st century.  Anything and everything they do from now on in to ameliorate (marketing-wise) – even as the reality on the ground continues to be as grim as it clearly is – will be perceived medium-term as a retreat from earlier positions; far too late to recover lost political capital.  And if they dilly-dally and eventually do not retreat, the public’s perception of their actions will move from ultimately seeing them as lily-livered exponents of a supposed and self-confessed “tough love” to perpetuating three generations of a folk memory of evil deeds which shall only serve to open the door to more Tory wilderness years – in particular for the ordinary rank and file Conservative MPs who had assumed Cameron was going to be a long-term moderniser of positions.

In reality, what those of us on the left are beginning to realise is that the issue isn’t actually about a battle for 2015 but, rather, about a much longer-term war for hearts, minds, communities and perishable lives which the Johnsons, Osbornes and Camerons of this world have decided to destroy and reshape.  As Phil presciently points out:

[…] It’s a Tory speech by a leading Tory, so it was always going to be riddled with stupid empiricism. And before he gave it, I could have told you it would be a backward looking speech. As the organic representatives of the most decadent sections of the ruling class, they have to return to the scenes of the 80s because there is nothing more they can do. What does a privatiser and deregulator do when almost everything has been privatised and deregulated? And when the needs of capital, the needs of their own class demand energetic industrial activism on the part of the state, what then?

Cut through the cynical bonhomie. de Pfeffel Johnson is as bankrupt as the rest of his party. If this is a foretaste of the programme he would offer as Tory leader, that permanent Labour majority is certainly more likely.

And when a dynamic of defence of existing positions tips suddenly into one of attack on a well-timed, well-constructed and long-considered front, that is precisely when the energy from the left will surely surge democratically.

We’ve spent long enough on our political backfoot as suddenly headlit rabbits.  Time to do a bit of Blair-like roughing up of a government which is neither clever nor competent – but rather, simply, all round, and quite beyond any other, as rankly inefficient as any political grouping could ever have become.

Predictive politics?  No wonder the Coalition is already in mourning.  In one thing they can see much farther than the rest of us right now.  One thing they are shamefully, desperately, despairingly hiding.

Their very own demise!

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