Leading Article: No time to blink

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The Independent Online
NORMAN LAMONT accuses the Government of short-termism, by which he means that it puts easy short-term advantage over difficult long-term strategy. The phrase has its origins in business and the City - short-term profit over long-term investment, an old British disease. But this is a mote-and-beam situation. We are all short-termists now. Remember the public anger eight months ago over the government's pit-closure programme? Tory MPs vanished down mine shafts, Tory voters took to the streets of shire towns, and the joke went that John Major had done the impossible and made Arthur Scargill a hero in Tunbridge Wells. It seemed that the Government had been forced to change its mind. The subsequent delays and inquiries are still described as a U-turn by the Government's critics. In fact, no U has been turned. As we report on page three, the British coal industry is shrinking pretty much exactly as Mr Heseltine said it would have to shrink. The alternative was a long-term energy strategy, but that would go against the rigged free market in power generation and everything the Government stands for. The absence of this strategy demonstrates short-termism in the real, rather than the presentational, sense.

But what happened to our anger? The Government dissipated some of it with clever tactics. The culprit, however, lies within ourselves. We are quickly bored; like children, we demand the next sensation. Our politics, our culture begins to resemble scenes from a pop video. Cut] Cut] And cut again.

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