Don’t you think this chap looks a bit like David Cameron?
Here’s a special treat for those who welcomed the return of Doctor Who to our TV screens last night – and for those who love satirical political commentary.
The public may be willing to pay charges to consult the Doctor in times of serious crisis, David Cameron said yesterday, according to Tom Pride.
The Tory leader said in an interview that many people understood the Doctor’s services were not really free and that it was a Labour “lie” to pretend he was saving the world without charge.
Mr Cameron made his comments in the course of explaining why the Tories were committed to introducing fees for Doctor’s visits – both for consultations and advice as well as for some of his more direct interventions such as preventing invasions of the Earth by Daleks or Cybermen.
The Tories have said they plan to include in their next manifesto a pledge to introduce charges for the Doctor’s services, including:
a £10 fee for advice on managing outbreaks of Autons
a £15 charge for helping prevent Silurian attacks
a £20 payment for advice on clearing up infestations of Weeping Angels
a £25 charge for dealing with a full-blown Dalek or Cyberman invasion
Mr Cameron, who was repeatedly asked during the interview whether the Tories would also back privatisation of the Torchwood Institute, suggested that this might be possible if the Conservatives won an overall majority at the next election.
Tired old Tory: Is this David Cameron or Ken Clarke? [Picture: BBC, augmented with help from Ian Davies]
David Tennant’s outstanding run as the title character in Doctor Who began by ending the career of fictional Prime Minister Harriet Jones with just six words to an aide: “Don’t you think she looks tired?”
The character had been PM for a very short time but had made serious errors of judgement. In that respect – and that alone – she is the David Cameron of the Doctor Who universe.
Cameron and his cronies are currently wheeling out a succession of policies that they want us to believe are new. The latest of these, according to the BBC News website, involves extended opening hours for local doctors.
That’s right – he’ll be piloting a £50 million scheme in nine areas of England where surgeries will be able to bid for funding to open from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.
Perhaps he’s hoping that our memories have suffered rapid ill-health recently, because this is nothing but an old Labour scheme, painted blue.
Labour offered GP practices extra money to open later in the evening and on weekends, and most surgeries tried it out – until lack of demand meant funding was reduced and hours cut back.
Many surgeries still offer out-of-hours appointments – so it seems unlikely that there is any need for Cameron’s version at all…
… unless he is considering making an appointment for himself. Look at the image. Don’t you think he looks tired?
Other policies introduced during the Tory conference include the indefinite extension of Workfare for the long-term unemployed, which is nothing more than an underhanded plot to make it seem that joblessness has dropped, allowing the Bank of England to raise interest rates, as this blog revealed yesterday.
And the much-touted but low-paying married tax allowance turned out to be even lower-paying for the low-waged who are already receiving help through tax credits, which are due to be phased out in favour of Universal Credit, paid to people whose incomes are low after tax. Their higher after-tax income means their UC will drop by £130, making them just £70 per year better-off.
Meanwhile, the ‘free school meals’ policy unveiled by Coalition partners the Liberal Democrats has also left a nasty taste in peoples’ mouths. It turns out that the number of people receiving such help is about the only indicator of low-income households available to school authorities, and is part of how schools show regulators that SAT results are not their only priority – they are doing their best in areas where parents are out of work. Losing that marker means schools in challenging circumstances will be unable to demonstrate their situation and will suffer as a result.
That leaves just the new tax on plastic bags in England, which is an idea the Coalition stole from the much-maligned Labour Welsh Government – another Labour idea the Tories have adopted (and this should serve as a warning sign for Labour: When Tories adopt your policies, you have drifted much too far to the right of the political spectrum).
Clearly the strain – of trying to dream up new policies that will make his party look good – has taken its toll on clueless Cameron.
Would you want to live in this kind of Britain – where the rich and privileged live it up in huge high-status dirigibles while you and I toil in dirty, pollution-spewing factories? If not, you need to do something about it – now.
A few years ago, an entertaining TV drama presented an image of a Britain very similar to ours – but with a few significant differences.
The rich no longer lived in the cities, but swanned around overhead, flaunting their wealth in giant dirigibles. Working people seemed perfectly happy to put up with a military presence on every street and a curfew in the evening, because their mobile phone technology had developed into ear-‘pods’ that downloaded the latest (and undoubtedly pre-approved) ‘news’ directly into their heads.
It was both amusing and chilling when the day’s ‘joke’ came down the wire and everybody laughed at once. Good little robots.
Of course, the Doctor saved the day – but not before thousands of these characters were turned into Cybermen (let’s face it, they were halfway there already) and many more had been killed.
Good thing it’s just fantasy, isn’t it?
Isn’t this exactly what ‘bookmanwales’ was telling us in his comment on the recent Vox Political article about David Cameron’s intentions?
“Whilst you can make the information available for people to see what is happening they are not interested,” he wrote.
“’Can I afford the latest iPhone?’ ‘Can I get totally p**sed at the weekend?’… and ‘How cool does my new car look?’ are at the forefront of most people’s minds.
“The pursuit of personal pleasure has overtaken simple reason. It matters not that you have to work 8 or 16 hours a day as long as you possess these luxuries.
“It doesn’t matter if you see no family or friends, doesn’t matter if you sleep all day when you are off. You have the things that matter because TV tells you having those things matter.”
It’s only a small step from that to “It doesn’t matter if your employers take more and more for themselves and give you less and less, literally looking down on you from a great height; doesn’t matter that it costs more and more to buy the status symbols you want and they give you less and less purchasing power; you are doing what matters in the best possible way because that is what they tell you”.
Adjusted for inflation, our hourly wages have fallen by a massive 5.5 per cent since mid-2010 – that’s the fourth-worst decline among all of the 27 EU nations, recorded in the country with the sixth-largest economy in the world (some say seventh).
Only Greece, Portugal and the Netherlands had a steeper decline – and their economies stand at 36-40th, 49th and 17th in world rankings.
Meanwhile, according to Michael Meacher MP, chief executives of the FTSE-100 – the top British companies – have increased their own pay to 133 times the diminishing national average.
They’re laughing at you. They think you’re beaten; that you’ve been brainwashed into conditioned helplessness and into believing that your status-symbol phone or car or television actually means something. Meanwhile, they have been taking everything.
And, as long as you carry on playing their game, their way, they’re right.
The rot starts with the government and it is with the government that you must start to change it. Nobody else will do this for you; you must stand up for yourself or your bosses and corrupt officials will walk right over you. Government sets the conditions in which populations either flourish or are repressed. We describe repressive governments as tyrannies, despotisms, dictatorships.
How would you describe the government of the UK?
Take a good, hard look at your own MP. Have they represented your interests? Are you better-off, now, than you were when they were elected in 2010? Don’t try to excuse them by saying times have been hard – that’s clearly nonsense, otherwise those FTSE-100 executives wouldn’t be enjoying such monumental pay hikes. If they are members of the Coalition parties, have they done anything to safeguard your interests against the crippling damage done by government policies? Anything at all? If there are members of the Opposition, have they vowed to redress the balance by restoring the rights and powers that have been stripped away from you – not just in the last three years but the previous 30 as well?
Then get rid of them and put someone in their place who will. It’s not rocket science!
Join the political party of your choice, link up with like-minded people and make a difference. Stop believing you are free, just because a politician tells you so. Freedom can never be taken for granted. People have had to fight for it down the generations and these times are no different.
Or would you rather go back to sleep and play Angry Birds (or whatever is the new fashion) until they come to euthanase you?
To paraphrase Oscar Wilde: Our hard work has put some people up among the stars; isn’t it time to ask why we are still in the gutter?
(The first Vox Political book, Strong Words and Hard Times, is available now in paperback or as an eBook, including a large ‘footnotes’ section in which you can actually connect to internet links containing supporting evidence – if you’re reading on a device that supports this kind of activity.)
Like half the world these days (it seems) I am a big fan of Doctor Who.
I’ve loved it all my life; I grew up watching it. It was my escape from the greyness of a 1970s childhood, my relief from the unrelenting falsity and greed of a teenage 1980s, my retreat from the harsh realities of my early working life in the 1990s, and now I get to enjoy it with a new generation of fans in the 21st century.
That’s how it is. If you don’t like it, I don’t care.
You may be wondering why I mention this on a blog that has been overwhelmingly political in most of its content.
Shows like Doctor Who – fantasies, if you like – have a quality that many other entertainments lack: They can put a mirror up to the modern world by comparing it with the past. The result can be astonishingly effective, if done skilfully (and I don’t think anyone would argue that Doctor Who isn’t done skilfully).
The thought occurred to me, earlier tonight, that a travelling companion from the 1950s would be perfect for the Doctor, in the current national climate.
In the 1950s, the UK was just beginning to emerge from a period of enforced austerity, caused by the actions of other people (the Nazis, the Japanese military, Mussolini’s fascists). Rationing was commonplace but was beginning to disappear. Money was short – the government’s debt was more than twice as much as the country made every year – so household budgets were tight. The welfare state and the NHS were in their infancy. Millions of people worked on mind-numbing jobs in factories because there was no other work available. People made their own entertainment. Radio ruled the roost, television was an upstart that had only just been born when the plug was pulled at the start of World War II, and was only beginning to get back on its feet. A trip to the cinema was a highlight of the week – maybe the month. The pub was the centre of a community’s social life, along with the church. Marriage was sacred and a ticket to respectability.
Contrast that with the present. The UK is now in a period of enforced austerity caused by the actions of a very small minority. While we don’t have rationing, money is short in many households. The government’s debt is not as much as it was then, but the poor have less money in real terms, while the rich have more, so most household budgets have tightened. Millions of people are unemployed and the nation’s manufacturing base has all but collapsed. The welfare system and the NHS are being stripped to the bare minimum. People choose their entertainment from digital deliverers, the TV, radio, cinema, or computer games and are much less social, so pubs are much less full, except when people can find a reason to go out (and then they’ll probably overindulge). Religion is on the wane and marriage is almost irrelevant.
A good TV show like Doctor Who could get a lot of material out of that – while still delivering the weekly dose of excitement, adventure and (occasionally) cold-blooded horror that we all love so much. It could show us how we’ve changed – and not always for the better.
And it could do it gently. And it’s never been done before (has it?).
I think there’s a lot to be said for that.
So, Mr Steven Moffat: How about it? Good idea?
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