In his dystopian masterpiece George Orwell poignantly penned the phrase “He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”
This maxim took a new meaning in Democratic society this week, when the Conservative Party purged its website of material from 2000 until May 2010. In effect they have wiped away evidence of their commitments made while in opposition. Amongst the erased speeches, commitments and policy pledges are a plethora of praise to Google for ‘democratising’ the internet (although the validity of this in light of the NSA surveillance is questionable), as well as a staunch opposition to any ‘meddlesome’ restructuring of the NHS.
Since taking office in 2010 the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition has systematically and fundamentally changed the NHS through its contentious reforms which saw the vilification and removal of Health Secretary Andrew Lansley. The eradication of promises and commitments prior to the ascension of the Conservative Party to Government is an outright and intentional attempt to disrupt accountability; the speeches and commitments included plans to match the spending under Labour, as well as outlining Cameron’s ambitious plan for the ‘Big Society.’
…the Party uses the past to create a false narrative…
The ‘Big Society,’ whereby community members would make up for local government cuts, was a key component of the semi-successful 2010 election campaign. The popularity of the plan, its ambiguity and the subsequent public denunciation of the policy perhaps explain why the concept has been doomed to be expunged from History. In a wider context, this alteration of History illustrates how the Conservative Party is intending to fight the coming election; a careful combination of denial of previous promises, castigation of Labour, and incessant reminders of the despicable betrayal perpetrated by the Liberal Democrats.
The power of the past is unrivalled. Stalin famously altered and fabricated photographs to emphasise his relationship with Lenin, as well as to expunge dissenting figures. In Big Brother, the Party uses the past to create a false narrative. The past is indeed the key to the present, and the Conservatives have learnt this quintessential concept. However, in a modern Democratic society, accountability is integral; Cameron argued in one of the myriad of deleted speeches for ‘transparency,’ as well as offering constituents the ability to recall controversial MPs. In censoring the past Cameron, and the Conservative Party, has betrayed itself, and obliterated much of the progressivism of their ideology which facilitated their success in 2010.
…a Party who are partially responsible for the economic crisis…
The pervasive attack on information and accountability is tantamount to censorship, and as such should lead to increased scrutiny. However, to scrutinise a Government it is necessary to have access to their pre-election intentions. We are now left in the infinitely unpleasant situation of realistically having 3 Parties to vote for in the next General Election; Labour, a Party who are partially responsible for the economic crisis. The Conservative Party, who seem to omit unrealised policies from history, or the Liberal Democrats, a Party who executed the greatest political treachery in a generation.
The Tories have begun their election mobilisation, and the tactics they have adopted are deeply concerning in regards to Democratic accountability, but given the deficiency in choice the electorate will be forced to pick an unpalatable alternative, or continue to support the current Government. The next election will be a decision of who is the lesser of two evils.