Posts Tagged ‘Labour Party’

I’d like to take issue with something I’ve seen repeated quite often in the media in recent days: revisionism amongst Tory supporters or MPs. It goes like this; they’ll talk of the unnecessary election called hubristically by May that has almost inevitably backfired and left Brexit negotiations in doubt at a critical time for the UK.

 

Now as much as I have no respect for May or her actions, there wasn’t a Tory in the country who wasn’t like a nodding dog at the announcement that there would be a snap election “in the national interest”. They gleefully parroted the line that opposition parties were talking of hindering the Brexit process so it was entirely appropriate to spend £130 million on a General Election, despite an actual law forbidding it for another 3 years.

 

Of course this was, like Cameron’s coup de grace with the Brexit referendum, entirely self-serving for May and the Conservative party. Learning precisely nothing from Cameron’s idiotic assertion that nothing bad could possibly come from gambling the whole nation’s economic future on a single roll of the dice, she not only repeated that feat, but also used the exact same tactics in reducing a series of complex arguments to binary choices and simple-minded slogans and bullshit smearmongering – “Project Fear” all over again.

 

But let’s not pretend this is all about the arrogance and delusion of one woman: the whole party was behind this. They’d seen the polls and could not resist the temptation, but this wasn’t just about getting a comfortable majority, or even humiliating their opposition party; this was about snuffing out the only credible threat to the ‘Neoliberal consensus’ for the last 30 years. If they crushed Corbyn, who was actually proposing rolling back corporate dominance and raising taxes on the very richest, their core purpose would not be challenged again, even from an opposition party.

 

Their eyes lit up and they greedily made the grab so thoughtlessly, they hadn’t even considered that they might have to actually make a credible manifesto and have some kind of debates over issues other than fucking Brexit. They looked at the hysterical press slurs at Corbyn, they heard the Labour MPs flouncing out of the Commons and giving up getting re-elected, and made a calculated gamble that for 7 weeks they could make up any old shit for a manifesto, while treating their own voters like mugs, and the rest of us as imbeciles who might get excited and inspired by a cold and unapproachable woman ignoring our questions and crow-barring the same two catchphrases in to every conference, as if she had made bets for a university drinking game.

 

May has now proved herself to be not only a “bloody difficult woman”, but a “stupendously hubristic woman” who learnt nothing from her predecessor’s fall from grace, but instead allowed the press’ preferential treatment of her and lauding of her Brexit intransigence delude her into thinking she was some kind of  a queen; impatient for her glorious coronation.

 

I have to admit I am slightly baffled by her haste in hustling for the DUP to prop her up. Surely she realises that the persistent connection of Corbyn to Irish terrorists will now be even more laughable as an attack method; not to mention the insane risk to the Northern Irish power-sharing agreement by having one side prop up the supposed mediator for the Assembly agreement. The fact she has already described the DUP (despite their clear connection to loyalist paramilitaries) as ‘friends’ is incredible, considering she wouldn’t stop making reference to the fact that Corbyn specifically referred to Hamas as ‘friends’ when seeking negotiations for peace with them.

 

Which makes me wonder: what’s she actually playing at? She must surely know when politically engaged moderate Tory voters begin to research the DUP’s views on homosexuality, climate change and creationism (amongst others), they will be revolted, and turned off the Conservatives. Associations will be permanently made between the parties, which generally damages the party ‘brand’ for more than one election cycle.

 

So does the conspiracy theory contain perhaps a kernel of truth? Did May call the election as an all-or-nothing shot, where she would either get Erdogan-style dictator status in her own little one-party state, or be relieved of the inevitable disasterpiece of Brexit? I’m coming round to this theory more with every development, even if I’m not entirely convinced yet.

 

Whatever happens, we now have a genuine alternative narrative to dismantle the failed neoliberal system in the mainstream, and Corbyn will only grow in stature as this atrocious and offensive coalition of chaos staggers on, in the death throes of their destructive ideology we may finally be able to lay to rest for good. So, young people, you were neglected, ignored and patronised, but now you’ve rescued us, the people who most believed in you. We have all been vindicated. iVive la revolucion!

Sometimes I do wonder whether I’m in some kind of paranoid coma fantasy that I can’t wake up from.

 

If you’d have explained that a party that had been in power for seven years as the majority in parliament had overseen anaemic growth across the economy and a ballooning national debt, and their message was essentially: “Blame everyone else, we’re the only option. We haven’t fixed it yet, but give us another term and we’ll try to fix it by then”; then explained that they were on course for a landslide General Election victory on the back of insulting and antagonising officials of an organisation we are about to leave and desperately need a good deal out of, I’d have scoffed.

 

Even with our appalling anti-intellectual media, surely our population could not be cheerleading the biggest act of economic suicide in a generation, and getting excited at the prospect of the organisation we need a good deal from telling us to fuck off, because we don’t really need those bloody foreigners telling us what to do and we’re going to resurrect the Empire, only with less bloodshed and slavery. The famed magical money tree of the Commonwealth only needs its ripe fruits plucked by the mighty hands of Blighty, and there will be peace and prosperity for all. No more immigration; and shiny unicorns for all in this Brave New Britannia. Nothing can go wrong as long as we TRUST THERESA MAY; the tabloid loudhalers screech at us.

 

Theresa May, who has done a remarkable volte-face from “Brexit isn’t a good idea” to “Brexit is the only idea to make Britain great again”, also has a husband who seems to have done remarkably well financially out of her Brexit decisions thus far, and has misled parliament on the misfire of our nuclear defence system, but our eager media is far too busy splashing headline over headline on whether Corbyn would ever find a reason to (get America’s permission to) use said anachronism. It’s got to the point where it sounds like when you were at school and used to wind each other up with hypothetical scenarios. “What if a dragon was at Buckingham Palace and about to eat the Queen; would you use Trident then?”; “What if Putin annexed Surrey and drew a hammer and sickle on the Union Jack at Westminster? Then surely you’d use Trident, right?”

 

I had to pinch myself when I heard the Prime Minister talking about launching a FIRST STRIKE nuclear attack as if it was some kind of computer game. On what planet is a nation’s leader boasting of unleashing an unprovoked holocaust across the world a positive thing that we should nod to and respect? This is brinkmanship for the braindead. Listen to what she’s saying, it’s Kim Jong-Un-esque. She would wipe out millions of civilians and poison the earth for generations, and presumably the target nation would also be nuclear-armed (Russia is normally the go-to bogeyman), so she is basically telling us all that she would happily sign all of our death warrants on a whim. HOORAY! ALL HAIL OUR GLORIOUS LEADER WHO WILL BLESS AND KEEP US FOR EVERMORE.

 

We mock America for Trump, but we are well down the road to our own Trump. Right now it is an inevitability. Trump became possible because American partisan politics became more and more debased and devoid of intellectual rigour that the dumbasses became orators. Suddenly, battles for policies and visions became battle to defame and whip up hysteria. A baseless and racist slur became an actual mainstream campaign to call into question Barack Obama’s citizenship credentials. Evangelicals would throw God into everything: all emotion and no logic. The ‘Tea Party’ movement formed from a bunch of slow-witted malcontents to an actual influential pressure group with arms in government.

 

How does this reflect the UK’s situation? It’s the ad-hominem trash talking and the general infantilisation of political discourse. We don’t hear reasoned critiques of policies any more: it’s just character smears, implied negative associations, false narratives and ‘Back to the 1970s’ tropes. The fact that Corbyn’s proposed manifesto is hugely popular, but many people won’t consider voting for him, based on the media onslaught and constantly repeated narrative of ‘weak leadership’ and erroneous ‘hard-left’ labels thrown around like particularly sticky mud.

 

How gullible are we to vote back in a party whose leader doesn’t respect her ‘people’ enough to actually meet and talk to them? Who refuses to debate with Corbyn unless it’s in a sanitised House of Commons where the toffs bray along to her rubbish and scripted jibes are practically auto-cued for her. Who repeats two phrases endlessly like a malfunctioning child’s toy? Where is the vision? Where are the ideas? If we fall for this shit and return the Tories to office, we will have our own Trump eventually, because the population are responding to demagoguery with relish. If Farage joined the Tories and became leader, he would be PM at the first time of asking, I have no doubt.

 

I’m not sure how we go about resetting this ignorance of expert opinion, academic backing or actual policy justifications when all the money (and the voting system) is on the side of those who will hold practically untrammelled power for the foreseeable future. When we get our British Trump, will any right-leaning voters realise things have gone too far? Probably not, as no parallels in history are ever reviewed. We are Great Britain, free to make our own mess way in the world again, and you’d better not provoke us, because we have strong and stable fingers on the holocaust button whenever Dacre gives the word.

It’s important to give a few days between a horrible event occurring and commenting on it. When the referendum result came through, I found myself lashing out at various people I had no business attacking, and promptly banned myself from social media for the weekend, which kind of worked.

So now the dust is settling on the stupidest decision the British public has probably ever made, and there is a complete absence of any political leadership, just when it is surely needed most.

David Cameron, the privileged PR guy who once said he should be PM because he’d “be good at it”, has proven that assertion absolutely false, by calling a referendum simply to iron out internal party issues and allow him to squeak an election win against the odds. Now his arrogance and immaturity has cost him everything. No longer allowed to sail into the sunset with a positive political legacy, he has been forced to resign in disgrace, having lost any credibility by calling the needless referendum, and then losing it. The fact he has vowed to continue until October, despite refusing to deal with Brexit negotiations, is a mark of the hubris and petulance of the man. He will go down as the Prime Minister who lost the ‘Unionist’ from the ‘Conservative and Unionist Party’; as once Article 50 is triggered, Scotland will surely call a second referendum, where they will vote for independence to stay in the EU, while the rest of the Tory Britain will finally finish Thatcher’s dream of killing off any and all things with ‘Union’ in their description.

Plenty of turkeys seemingly voted for Christmas, as parts of Wales and Cornwall, big recipients of EU funds, voted out. Better the devil you know, or, to put it another way, better to be fisted by Westminster than patronisingly patted on the back by Europe.

Other than the obvious lies about NHS funding and immigration reductions gobbed out of loudhalers by the lead Brexiteers, other things irked me about this result: the complete lack of exit strategy, proving more evident by the day; the fact that a number of people I spoke to who voted leave tended to preface it with ‘I don’t really get into politics’; the gloaty sneering about the result as if it was a rugby match, rather than something which would negatively affect generations to come. I’d be a complete berk to suggest everyone who voted Leave was a xenophobe or racist, but it is indisputable that the Leave campaign would not have won without the racist vote.

As I watched the tediously long-winded campaign unwind, I knew one thing for certain: the ‘Leave’ team could not win without pandering to fears about immigration. You never go broke appealing to the lowest common denominator, as the saying goes. Fears about mass immigration are not fabricated or undue, but, as many like me tried to argue, leaving the EU would not reduce immigration in any circumstance. Were we to leave the EU, our economy could not afford to leave the European Economic Area, therefore, like other non-EU members trading in the EEA like Norway and Switzerland, we would have to accept the freedom of movement principle.

If, somehow, we decided to shoot ourselves in both feet and cut our noses off by leaving the EEA, big business would simply import far more non-EU nationals than EU nationals, and lobby for regulations to be relaxed to ‘save the economy’ (and their profit margins). These are the fundamental tenets of the church of Neoliberalism: Capital is God, and must be fluid. Capital potential can be reduced if worker supply is reduced, or, Heaven forbid, big business has to pay to train British natives. Therefore, the lobbyists call the shots. If the Brexiteers don’t like this, join the rest of us who actually get off our arses and try to change it, rather than constantly posting anti-immigrant rhetoric and falling for divide-and-rule every time.

Joining Cameron in the cowardice sweepstakes was Boris Johnson, who shocked everyone by pulling out of the Tory leadership race at the last minute. So two men who manoeuvred specifically to stay PM, and become PM, had both failed miserably, and gutlessly ran away, leaving others to clean up their considerable mess.

Meanwhile, the opposition have decided to react to this vacuum of leadership with the most embarrassing coup attempt since, well, Boris Johnson’s! But that’s a discussion for another time.

You know when you have to break some really bad news to someone, but don’t want to see them upset, so somehow you convince yourself if you just phrase it softly, or as a subtle analogy, that they will take it in good spirit, and, more importantly, not attack you? Sometimes the English language is frustratingly limited. But what can you do?

Well, if you’re in Government, you can simply convey what you’re actually doing by using words or phrases that are acceptable, even positive to people, so they will then associate something good with all the bad you’re doing, and it will somehow all make moral sense in their jumbled heads.

Examples abound. “Hard-working families” now means: “anyone who voted Tory”. “Global financial crisis”, “Eurozone crisis” and “food banks” are now translated as “Labour’s mess”. “Slave labour” has become “Workfare”, while “actively provoking the next financial crash” is simply known as “Help to Buy”. There’s more. “Enabling Free Markets” actually means “assistance for near-monopolies to consolidate their dominance”, “free trade deals” can be translated as “stateless multinationals plundering all they survey”, while “reform”/”choice” are alternating pseudonyms for “privatisation”.

But my biggest bugbear, the worst mangling of meaning has to be “centrist politics”. I’ve heard this waffled by Labour party thinktanks or “reformers”; usually after an announcement that big business should be in any way responsible or answerable to the laws of the land: “we will only win from a centrist position”. Yet these same types are advocating 2% minimum GDP defence spending and cutting welfare further. These are not “centrist” positions. Most of them are a painful way away from “centre-right”.

This logic dictates that the Conservatives are “centrist”, perhaps with a hint of “centre-right” economic frugality. Yet this flies in the face of all known evidence. Handing every public service over to private interests is actually economically far-right, just as having everything state-owned or abolishing private ownership entirely would certainly be far-left economically. Yet a Government whose leader and Chancellor have both advocated having everything bar parts of the military and judiciary privately owned or contracted out, are laughably considered “centrist” by our transparently pro-Establishment media sources.

‘Workfare’; the notion that anyone, regardless of age or circumstance, should have to work for survival rather than a salaried wage, is socially far-right: it’s the modern-day workhouse, only instead of the upkeep of the workhouse, the money goes to landlords and party donors who get free labour. Criminalising homelessness is far-right. Assuming all citizens are potential terrorists and justifying spying on them is authoritarian to the point of fascist: far-right.

As students of modern British political history will know, this shifting of the ‘centre ground’ to the right was done under Thatcher. Suddenly, the private sector running essential natural monopolies, massive tax cuts for the rich and corporations, and privatising council housing was ‘centrist’. Maggie was of course the master of manipulating the truth. Swathes of dole claimants she created quietly became long-term disability claimants to massage her grotesque figures. Her Neoliberal dystopia became the new ‘consensus’, enforced with batons and misinformation.

The BBC get into the act when they describe Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn as a ‘far left’ candidate. Moderate socialism has never been ‘far left’, unless small-c conservatism is now classed as ‘far right’. It may seem petty, but words can distort realities and create false narratives when used often enough. Real centrist politics would require a significant leftward shift from where we are currently, probably in relation to taxing corporations and the super-rich more progressively, and renationalising essential natural monopolies like the railways and utilities. The body politic has been heaved so far right they now see anything remotely public or progressive as anarchy. Don’t believe the bullshit.

Imagine you lived in a tiny village across a river, with only a single bridge connecting it to the outside world. Any time you needed provisions, a business meeting or simply a night out, you’d have to go over this bridge (unless you were a strong swimmer and had a change of clothes). The bridge was made of wood and iron, and its integrity was unsurpassed.

Now imagine the mayor on the other side announced the bridge was rotting, and urgent remedies were needed. He announced a new super-bridge to be constructed just down the river, but this bridge was made of a metal suspected to be toxic to fish when immersed in water. Obviously you would not be happy.

So you and the village folk gather to protest. You insist the new bridge is not worth killing most of the fish, and it would cost too much money. You insist a different design will have to be drawn up. Meanwhile, the mayor puts up posters and runs television adverts proclaiming the new bridge to all and sundry. Suddenly, everyone is open to the idea of this flash new construction, and your protests are beginning to fall on deaf ears. You and your hardy group plead with locals, but they seem to now believe that this new bridge is the only way to go. Some are more inclined to believe something that has been on television and official posters.

Away from this imbroglio, a tiny faction of ‘militants’ hire in an outside body to assess the old bridge, and their thorough report documents that the bridge is in fact structurally sound, with no signs of rot. These people release the report, but it hardly gets a mention, even among the strong ‘new bridge opposition’ group. The pro and anti-bridge rhetoric flies back and forth, while the people who understand that the original bridge is fine shake their heads and wonder what the point in anything is any more.

This whimsical allegory of course illustrates the ‘austerity’ argument, and the foundations on which it is based. The problem is not whether more austerity or less austerity is required; the problem is why is it deemed necessary at all when we look at the evidence?

http://www.ukpublicspending.co.uk/debt_brief.php

It’s evident that the national debt as a percentage of GDP has been higher for the majority of the last century (chiefly driven by the two World Wars), so we might ask why it has suddenly become a major issue. The interest payments again are not even half of what would risk defaulting, despite the current coalition vastly increasing the national debt. Looking at ‘social spending’ (welfare and pensions) as a proportion of GDP, it becomes clear that the biggest outlay for welfare comes during the Thatcher years and post-2008 crash. This seems pretty obvious, as Thatcher dismantled the full employment agenda of the State, leading to permanent levels of unemployed, and of course the crash led to mass redundancies and contraction of the private sector:

http://www.ukpublicspending.co.uk/past_spending

So from these two statistics, the ‘massive debt’ and the ‘massive welfare bill’ are overblown and also more likely under recent Conservative governments. Another point to take from the debt charts is that despite the debt slowly growing post-2000, the Labour government prior to the worldwide financial crash had a national debt-to-GDP ratio lower than that it had ultimately inherited from John Major’s Conservative administration, who went from a low of around 25 % GDP to over 40% when leaving office in 1997. The New Labour administration was hovering just over 36% when the financial excrement hit the fan.

But of course then the coalition would likely mention that it is the deficit (gap in spending to tax collected) that they are most concerned about, and that ‘you can’t borrow your way to prosperity’. So the fact that they have failed to wipe out this deficit as they promised, as well as losing the UK’s AAA rating, and borrowing more in the first 3 years in government than New Labour did in 13, is a glaring and insulting contradiction:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-21554311

http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/2013/11/the-tories-have-piled-on-more-debt-than-labour/

So, rather than arguing about what kind of new bridge we should be building, perhaps we should remember that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the old one. Let’s base arguments on facts instead of propaganda.