Wednesday, 1 January 2014
A Wild Day for the Romanians
A wild wind, the rain thin, not yet in full fury, the whole sky like a clenched fist. A harsh day on which to greet that supposed flood of Romanians and Bulgarians, all 'seeking benefits'. Few seem to have arrived on the first flight.
So much of politics is gesturing under pressure. The Tories are afraid that UKIP will steal their votes so they talk tough on immigration and pull stern faces. In so far as Tories represent the wealthy and their vested interests they haven't much to fear. A few Romanians are not going to impinge on them. It is different with the poor and lower middle class. Theirs is the true contested political terrain.
In this complicated, vestigially class-orientated country what counts as good or bad for you may be as much psychological as practical. The sense of security is closely associated with stability. Things are manageable while they remain the same. Even when you are squeezed you can cope as long as you know where the pressure is coming from. Hence the deep conservatism of the working class and the stoicism of the underclass. The more pressure you are under the harder that stoicism has to work but at least it is a recognisable form of work. There is, of course, a conflicting desire for change but change is fraught with danger. The super-rich are out of reach. The way they got there is too hard to handle and if you handle it wrong everything collapses on top of you. No one is going to insure you against dropping further down the scale. There is always further to fall.
Pressure produces conservatism but it also produces reaction based on very local concepts of injustice. Anything that threatens further insecurity will be located in some immediate, identifiable cause. It is a very simple line of reasoning:
The foreigners take our jobs. Who allows the foreigners in? European bureaucrats who care nothing for us. They talk about 'justice' but it's all theory to them. They don't know or care who pays for it. We pay for it.
The little injustice that may have to be addressed - if there is anything at all to be addressed - is as nothing compared to the big injustice whose correction is fraught with much greater danger, so fury is concentrated on the immediate and identifiable. The matter may be safely stirred up. The raw material is there.
It has been UKIP's task to do the stirring, but the constituency is traditionally Tory.
I don't much like the term 'lumpenproletariat' but maybe that is what most of us have become. And we're basically nice people who are friendly with the neighbours and kind to animals. We give to charity. I say 'we' because I don't want to patronise such people. That's too easy.