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Quango - Austerity Is So Last Season

And David Cameron's new clothes are shit.

by Gavin Haynes
08 May 2012, 3:00pm

Somewhere in Paris, Francois Hollande is waking up. He's putting on his trousers. Under his breath, he's muttering to himself, incredulously: “I'm the fucking president of fucking France. I'm the fucking president of fucking France...” in-between trips to the mirror to check whether anything has actually changed in his physical appearance. Those sensible glasses. That slightly jowly chin: he always had a good face for a bronze bust. For a man who was the Socialists' number two choice to lead, and likely his own number three, the past 12 months must seem like a video game. A man who was not even a has-been, a never-was, a never-will-be, has been transformed, simply by being the exact opposite of his opponent, into the fucking president of fucking France. A year ago, had he put money on himself, he could've got 20/1 from a decent bookie.

Meanwhile, somewhere in London, one hour later, Boris Johnson is waking up. He's taking off his sleeping trousers and putting on the trousers he reserves for the period between awakening and his bath. “I'm fucking Boris Johnson,” he's saying. “I'm fucking me. Excuse me, Mr Alarm Clock – don't you know who I am? I'm fucking Boris Johnson. Isn't that right, Mrs Duvet? It's a wonderful thing to be me. But you'll never know, Mrs Duvet, will you? Because you only ever leave this bedroom when it's time for a tango with Signor Washer-Dryer. Blub blub blub. Wurble. Wurble wurble. Now, where are my bath trousers?”

And in Athens, a bunch of Golden Dawn fascists are waking up beneath their Space Nazi duvet covers. They wake up before everyone else, even though they are a couple of hours ahead, because fascists are renowned as early-risers and are reluctant to lose that reputation. They're watching the TV, looking at the squabbling bolus of fucktards presently trying to figure out who is going to run Greece, and squeezing their truncheons a little tighter.

Three elections. A whole world of fresh misery for David Cameron. When your consolation prize after a local election rout, the potential unravelling of the Euro fiscal pact and the end of austerity as the dominant mode of economic fashion is that the man best positioned to replace you has been triumphantly re-elected, it's not been a week to break out the Bollinger.

Francois Hollande is a socialist, as he cannily pointed out in his victory speech. And even though raging capitalist Nicolas Sarkozy was already leading a country where 56 percent of the national GDP is spent by the government, Hollande has sworn to end that sort of knuckle-scrape austerity and let the national trousers out again. The Greeks – assuming they don't descend into full-blown chaos – are now likely going to try to do likewise, whatever the political cost. Meanwhile, even the freshly-elected right-wingers in Spain are calling for more spending, less public accounts whup-ass. And therein lies the government's problem. While they weren't watching, austerity became last season's fashion. More and more economists are rallying behind more and more spending, yet even with the economy flatter than a child's brassiere, Cameron has nailed his personal credibility to the S&M of austerity so firmly he can't get out without ripping his credibility to shreds. However much he might like to.

Sadly for Dave, it's near impossible to change your mind in politics. In real life, you'd trust the guy who ditched the thing that didn't work even if he'd said it would. He's the one who's flexible, realistic, scientific. In politics, however, that never works. He's U-turning, flip-flopping, dithering. For our exclusive benefit, leaders are only allowed to have one firmly-held, unwavering opinion on each subject – one which they make an ironclad vow to uphold at the start of their careers. This is why politicians exhibit such fixed gazes: this sort of strict programming is trying to interface with a fluctuating reality, and their eyes glaze over like PC egg-timers of the soul, irises turning into spinning beach balls of death as they struggle to triangulate a response. No, you do your one thing. And then you have to keep doing that one thing, unblinkingly, like a mechanical turk, endlessly soundbyting on and on about it, until it eventually fails, and the electorate thwack you with the guillotine.

For Cameron, the only way out now will be massive subterfuge. If he is to pull off the sort of intergalactic volte face he needs, it will mean using the Olympics as the ultimate "good day to bury bad news" –  a 9/11 x 14. Everyone will come back from a fortnight with their heads in the patriotic clouds, a full two weeks of bum-licking Princess Eugenie and harping on about the coxless fours, and Cameron will have completely re-done the nation top to tail. He will have sacked his failing cabinet, embarked on full-steam anti-austerity, and turned the NHS into a minicab firm in Hounslow. It will be like that time you went to band camp and your mother took it upon herself to tear down the racing car wallpaper in your room and redecorate it in fruity pastels. Exactly like that. And you will have to live in that pastel-shade room. And your Slipknot poster will look ridiculous.

Follow Gavin on Twitter: @hurtgavinhaynes

Ilustration by Sam Taylor

Previously: Quango - Getting to the Heart of Murdoch's Grudge