Monday, 11 May 2015

From Priti Patel to Katie Hopkins: A Nation of PR Harridans

I confess that I'm mentally and emotionally having a bit of hard time at the moment. I'm trying hard to hold it together, to keep on working, but life has suddenly got very difficult. I simply can't get my mind around the Tory win.

Oh, you might scoff and I can't reasonably explain why I'm feeling so utterly dejected and why I'm finding it hard to find much purpose in life. The passion has gone from my work. Yet I'm not some rabid left winger who hates Tories for ideological reasons. I'm fairly apolitical but I do believe in certain things which are suddenly anathema to the new Tory government. It's like my belief system has been entirely invalidated by the nation. Everywhere I look, I feel like I have dead eyes looking back at me. Dead eyes that see through me. Dead eyes and dead minds which cannot comprehend why a man should feel this low.

If there's one thing that sums up this dejection I'm feeling, that one thing is the appointment of the new employment minister, Priti Patel.

Patel has constantly been on TV over the election campaign. She caught my eye because she was one of those polished performers that the Tories produce so well and Andrew Neil does so well in embarrassing. They have the fixed-distance stare of a trained killer, so certain are they that their policies are right. In a few performances on the Daily Politics, Patel revealed herself to be immensely dim and though I hesitate to call somebody stupid, frankly, yes, she was stupid. She is stupid in the very same way that Katie Hopkins is stupid. They are stupid because they both lack humility. They are incapable of understanding that their belief in their own intelligence limits their intelligence.

There can be no surprise that both of them come from the vacuous world of PR. They are similar in temperament, attitude, and fierceness when it comes to their own twisted morality. I keep finding myself reaching for the term 'Loose Women' but that's what strikes me about both. They have the mid-afternoon ITV rage of the small business owning woman who would sooner slice you open with a razor blade than they would look on you kindly. It's the sense that to compete in a male world, they've had to adopt male attitudes but take them to a new blazing level of cruelty. Oddly, it's an attitude that Thatcher never had. Thatcher's strength was more of an intellectual strength. Love her or hate her, Thatcher occasionally engaged her brain. It was intellect that taught her that to be powerful, you lowered your voice and spoke more slowly. Patel and Hopkins are not thinkers. They are dilettantes who have retained their femininity but you get the sense that when they come out fighting, they do so with fingernails raking the eyes and heels spiked into shins. Their politics are a shriek. They would sooner seek out the extreme than spend time thinking hard about an issue.

Patel is a strong conservative, by which I mean, on the Tebbit wing of the party. She believes in hanging, which says everything you need to know about a person. Think about that deeply and consider what kind of person believes in a practice that was already considered barbaric in the 1950s. Think about how dumb a person needs to be to fail to understand why civilized nations turned their backs on hanging. Think about the psychology of a nation that carries out hangings; about the people who would have to carry out state sanctioned killings. Think about fault lines in the legal system, where mistakes can happen. Think about the simple morality of hanging a person until they're dead.

No issue cuts so deeply to the heart of who we are as a people. No issue is quite so complicated or require such a broad range of expertise to fully understand in terms of the biology, the psychology, the ethics, jurisprudence, government, and even theology. To believe in it shows how little humility they have but, moreover, how little humanity.

That shouldn't surprise anybody who has done a little reading up on Patel. Before she became an MP, she helped tobacco companies communicate with the Tories and then she went to work for an alcohol company. In other words: she was the kind of mercenary gun-for-hire who cares nothing about the harm her work does but is happy to do it so long as it's well paying.

And now she's in charge of the benefits for people who are sick, disabled, low paid and vulnerable.

Just writing that line does nothing to alleviate my pain. I can feel myself slipping into a deeper despair.

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