As long ago as Spring 2010, (remember the old days?) there were those who wondered whether any new government could manage to clear up the mess that Labour were leaving behind. One compounded by their “scorched earth” policy and determination to ram as much complicating legislation through as possible.
The answer seems to be “no” and it is not just this government that cannot do it there is the horrible thought that nobody can, least of all a new Labour lot who would then be tasked with clearing up their own mess and the further difficulties created by what seems to be a group of the unable leading the unwilling.
The difficulties with the budget are not just a case in point. In the mid 20th Century, Sir Stafford Cripps was roundly blamed for the loss of the overwhelming Labour majority of 1945 by the need for “Austerity”.
It is arguable that there was a lot wrong with his policies. The difficulty is that the “right” ones may have been even more unpopular with the core Labour vote at the time.
Since then governments faced with the need to scale back some activities and make significant readjustments have courted serious problems. Much of the comment on the mining industry in the 1980’s concentrates on Scargill’s mad strike instead of the complexities of energy and chemicals policies of the period.
With large numbers of pensioners who are unhappy and many voters in the middle strata of the electorate also unhappy, it means that Cameron may have to go down the risky road that some Conservatives have tried before, that of appealing to the workers.
There is an intricate issue here of who are the “workers”. With so many of the lower income groups being pensioners or out of work or for whom “work” is the ultimate four letter word, this means they are a category hard to define precisely and equally hard to judge which way they might vote.
Especially, in an electorate that is becoming less and less inclined to vote at all, prefers narrow self interest and is more interested in pasties and promotion than in policies or productivity.
Also, worrying is that we have a Prime Minister being distracted by the whirl of world politics and foreign matters in a Cabinet that is showing distinct signs of tiredness and media fatigue.
The government seems to be dealing with matters on a day to day basis because of the overwhelming complexity of it all and trying to resolve a past mess in terms of a rapidly developing present and future mess.
If suddenly Cameron and the others start talking about a “clean sweep” it will be time to become really worried because it will mean that we could be heading for a period of everything being on hold until the next election campaign.
But what happens if the chimney blocks and the fire goes out?