Posts Tagged ‘Tories’

These current times seem very reminiscent of the dying days of the Major administration. Remember when they were under fire from all sections of the media, even print, couldn’t get any Tory legislation passed, and people were just itching to boot them out of office for a fresh start? Now we regularly see sacrificial ministers wheeled out to be plucked like quivering chickens by the usually gentle and convivial Andrew Marr; answering questions in the irritatingly evasive manner of a suspect waiting for their lawyer to arrive. Mistress Mayhem AKA The Maybot ™ AKA The Feeding Seal has discovered that, much to her chagrin, the left were right all along: that her honeymoon period was almost entirely superficial, down to a combination of soft interviewing, the lauding of her by the press and their relentless hatchet jobs and character assassinations on her opposite number.

 

The inescapable problem for the Tories is that they have boxed themselves in with their narrow ideological obsessions. When the global financial crash struck in 2008, Gordon Brown was at the helm, and by 2010, following his clandestine insult of a voter being inadvertently broadcast, it should have been a cakewalk for the Tories, and they almost even blew that. As it was, the coalition with the LibDems should have suited David Cameron down to the ground. He could play to his natural liberal instincts and put into place his own vision for the country, which may have been closer to a LibDem vision than a Thatcherite Tory one.

 

Unfortunately for him, his party had been packed with raving neoliberals since Thatcher’s day, itching for further privatisation, deregulation and tax cuts for big business. ‘One Nation’ patrician conservatism was outdated; an anachronism. This may not have been too much of an issue if Cameron was smart, dedicated and strong, but he proved to be none of those things as he gave the Chancellor’s job to his old Bullingdon chum George Osborne, rather than the eminently better-qualified LibDem Vince Cable. Suddenly, we went from “coalition in service of the country in its hour of need” to “coalition in service of forwarding the interests of Tory party hard ideologues and big donors”.

 

Osborne was a proper neoliberal in the strictest sense: socially and economically. He idolised Thatcher, and embodied the worst Tory instincts that come with mindless privilege and a cocaine addiction. As far as he was concerned, he could ‘learn’ the chancellorship ‘on the job’, and soon treated cutting expenditure as some kind of game of Monopoly. Some Tories have been accused of reducing the state’s role to ‘custodian of the military’ and using war simply as a colonial tool. Osborne took a similarly reckless myopic approach to the treasury, seemingly taking gleeful abandon in slashing benefits to non-Tory voters, and privatising everything he could lay his hands on, even bragging of it as an end in itself. He clearly understood ‘disaster capitalism’, and the opportunities it presents for furthering nefarious ideological agendas which would otherwise prove publically unpalatable. As long as he kept blowing the ‘deficit’ trumpet, the Emperor’s clothes could remain just about visible to the oblivious masses.

 

When Cameron quietly dropped his ‘Big Society’ idea, most came to the reductive conclusion that Cameron was simply an empty vessel: an acceptable housewife-friendly face to front the completion of the UK’s asset stripping by the Tory neoliberals; a leader whose background in PR would stand him in good stead for bullshitting his way through the myriad social and economic issues Osborne’s demented slashing and burning would wreak.

 

Now though, finally, the tide seems to be turning. Whether the reality of Brexit fallout has been grasped, or people have just seen through the contradictory rhetoric of “all in it together”, the Tories have lost their majority, despite again being investigated of cheating on election expenditure, and having huge swathes of the mainstream media dancing to their tune.

 

Separating Theresa May’s abysmal campaign from the effectiveness of the party in general, an obviously oversimplified hypothesis of their failings would be that they do not know how not to do what they’ve done since Thatcher’s day, despite society and events moving on immeasurably. When Thatcher was handing every public asset to the private sector, it was new. You could disagree with it, but you couldn’t prove categorically that it would fail. Memories of the ‘Winter of Discontent’ sustained Thatcher’s crushing of trade unions and selling off of state monopolies: the context has changed in these last 40 years. Neoliberalism is a discredited economic ideology and a busted flush: 2008 was its natural death.

 

But rather than be flexible, the Tory ideologues have only one thought process: more privatisation and deregulation. Only, there is hardly anything left to sell, and it is now hugely unpopular with the general public. Their ‘zombie neoliberalism’ is fooling no one. People can see the connection between the Grenfell Tower disaster and the wider narrative where people are only valued for their economic power and big business literally gets away with murder in pursuit of profit.

 

They no longer have an aura of competence, or a plausible narrative for their plundering of state assets. How can they say more cuts are necessary when they’ve had 7 years to deal with the deficit and failed miserably? Who will be inspired to welcome more misery and cutbacks when they’ve seen no positive results from the 7 years they’ve already endured? Did they really think nobody would notice the stealth abolition of the NHS?

 

The Conservatives have managed to alienate and piss off most of the public sector, including the people we tend to value the most: doctors, police and firefighters, while propagating a culture of racism, class discord and anti-intellectualism. And the only plan they have to satiate these people is to tell them to suck it up because Brexit is the only thing that matters in the world, but they can’t tell us anything about what its aftermath will look like.

 

Perhaps I’m jumping the gun: record numbers still voted for the worst manifesto I have ever known from a major party, and a leader who is seemingly terrified of people unless they’re subservient acolytes. But a leopard can’t change its spots. Either the Tories start ripping off more Labour policies, or they will continue claiming the state can’t do anything positive other than bending over for big business. I cannot see either inspiring again, particularly when it becomes clear that Brexit was a huge mistake. A purge of the neoliberals may take a decade, but surely it is the only cure for this death spiral for the party that seemed unassailable just a fortnight ago.

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“Judge us on our record!”

 

Your record is atrocious. Only nation in the developed world to have a growing economy with stagnant wages. Doubled the national debt; more new debt added than every Labour government combined, and in peacetime too. Budget deficit still nowhere near being cleared, and at huge human cost: the kinds of humans that Tories don’t like to associate with anyway. Taxpayer-owned asset giveaway to donors of record proportions, despite no evidence privatisation makes things more cost effective or efficient, and with a wealth of evidence to the contrary. Increasingly authoritarian surveillance of civilians. Prison service, health service and education crumbling; unprecedented waves of strikes on the underground, rail network and even NHS.

 

 

“This is all about Brexit. Only I can deliver the right deal for Britain!”

 

When you were given this immensely important role at a critical point in British history, you decided it was more important to delay the negotiations to call a General Election you said multiple times we didn’t need. You go to the Daily Mail and others talking about how without provocation or hesitation you would reduce millions of people to glowing ashes, and tell the EU we rely on to strike us a positive deal to metaphorically fuck themselves. You recycle the kind of stock clichés an inquisitive 8 year old would take to pieces. Your ministers in charge of the Brexit negotiations offer contradictory statements daily, and you laugh them off as if they were just getting your aunt’s name wrong.

 

 

“*stock character slur on Jeremy Corbyn*”

 

When ad hominem polemic is your primary line of attack, you reveal you are petrified of debating the issues.

 

 

What a farrago of incompetence and chicanery this Tory election campaign has been. A dreadful manifesto, economic threats, a series of limited appearances with ministers parroting nothing but autocues from Lynton Crosby’s ‘Dog-Whistle Psychology for Angry Simpletons’, and the kind of absolute daylight robbery published and promoted in the Naylor Report making it into an interview with Andrew Neil. They have practically pledged to end the NHS, and a large section of the voting public have still not wavered, despite potentially losing access to free healthcare, having their kids’ legacy seized by the state, and given no details at all about Brexit, except it will be amazing for Britain as long as Theresa May is allowed to do whatever she wants.

 

God help us all if this contemptible bunch of clowns, crooks and charlatans become ‘the government we deserve’ on June 9th.

 

So, after endless rehashing of 1983’s “longest suicide note in history” in the press, we now have the “stupidest manifesto in history” from the press’s darlings. I have only ever been alive during the ‘neoliberal’ period, but in all that time, the Conservative manifesto 2017 is definitely the most dimwitted piece of rubbish ever presented by one of the two parties capable of forming a government, and must surely finally dispel that nonsensical myth that the Tories are always the slickest political operators.

 

Everywhere we look in the manifesto there are notions that sound like they were pitched at closing time in the Dog & Duck, and never reflected on again. Whether it’s taking away lunches from poor school kids or regurgitating failed policies on immigration and deficit reduction again and again like that arrogant idiot on the school football team who has the first touch of a tractor yet still insists the team wouldn’t lose every week if they just got the ball to him more, its delusional ineptitude is only matched by its malice. On what planet did the Conservatives think it would be sensible to sanction the state snatching people’s homes to pay for private care? Technically of course, they don’t actually have to give away the whole home, they get to keep £100k of the equity. Which is relatively fine if you live in Rochdale, not so good if you live in Dagenham. And who regulates the care home fees? Isn’t this just another ‘name your price’ outsourcing racket that the Conservatives seem to be so fond of? And that’s before we start getting into the rumours that banks are already creating new ‘financial products’ for this new ‘investment opportunity’. We truly have reached ‘peak Capitalism’, when businesses are scavenging for assets on corpses that haven’t died yet.

 

Not only is this social care policy cruel, but it targets the Conservatives’ core demograph of voters: the elderly with property. One thing never changes with Tory policies: there are no progressive scales, it’s just an arbitrary figure plucked out of their backsides and applied across the board, in rich and poor areas, to rich and poor people. It also throws up injustice when you realise that those who may have had life relatively easy and squandered their money will be cared for free of charge, while those who slogged away and sacrificed to own their home, will be deprived of it should nature’s unforgiving lottery deem their senescence to be more profound.

 

Of course, this hamfisted policy also demonstrates the cognitive dissonance within the Tory party. They are so obsessed with privatising everything not nailed down and deregulating their precious markets, they cannot fathom a scenario where care is actually state-provided rather than run as a private income stream, and we all contribute a little more to ameliorate nature’s random selection of genetic misfortune. Sounds a little like the NHS principles, which will explain the Tories’ desperation to sell that off before they’re booted out of office.

 

Back to the immigration pledge, which has been derided by anti-Tory groups, pro-Tory groups, cabinet ministers, big business, small business…in fact it’s easier to list those supporting the pledge: UKIP. Even someone with limited knowledge of macroeconomics would realise that a country so dependant on immigrants for so long is not going to be able to change this without radical reform of their economic structure. Companies that could pluck fully-trained EU nationals at a few weeks notice are not going to be too happy being told that they are going to be charged a large amount for each foreign worker, or train a British worker so they can do the job in 3 months time.

 

“Ensure foreign ownership of companies controlling important infrastructure does not undermine British security or essential services” – How about by not flogging off this infrastructure in the first place? If they acknowledge that there is a risk to British security, then the Tory party are admitting that their policies have threatened national security!

Of course it’s also worth mentioning one of the most utterly thoughtless policies floated: to allow up to a year’s unpaid leave caring for a loved one. Apparently no considerations of how many people could afford to take a year without pay (particularly since they are classified as employed so are not entitled to benefits), nor how many businesses could afford to keep a position open but unfilled for an entire year. I haven’t seen any confirmation of what condition loved ones have to be in before this would be permitted, nor how close a relative they would have to be.

It’s just line after line of uncosted nonsense that would be laughed out of a student politics debate, and this is where we’ve come. Where the governing party is so far ahead in ‘the polls’ that they think they can afford to offer up any old shit and have the turkeys trampling each other to get to the Christmas oven.

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.

I wanted to make this succinct, because it is a subject one can extricate, knead and stretch forever and a day. I guess the best way of encapsulating it is the terminology used to justify inequality, particularly by the nonsensical and too-publicised extreme economic right wing of the Conservative Party.

I talk of ‘wealth creators’ primarily. Now, I could accept this term being thrown around in self-defence of the already-wealthy once in a while, but as a credible economic argument it does not stand up to scrutiny. A simple analysis of each word will make this clear.

‘Wealth’ is defined as the accrual of vast amounts of possessions or money. Wealth by its very nature is an accumulation. Accumulations are not ‘created’. An accumulation is not a thing in itself; it is a collection of other, rational things. You no more create wealth than you create a pile of rocks. The wealth is of course made up of money. Money, or anything valuable, already exists in our current monetary system. It does not need to be ‘created’. I’m aware that the Royal Mint technically creates money, and private banks have been given licence to print ‘digital’ money, but, other than banks, which are a law unto themselves, the money circulates amongst the general population and all has to be accounted for.

‘Creation’ is bringing into existence something new. At its most organic, it is life, but if we translate it to the economy, it would be applicable to products of industry and construction. The pile of rocks analogy works here. ‘Wealth’ would be like moving many rocks into a single pile. ‘Creation’ is moulding the rocks into a house. So, in conclusion, wealth is not the ‘creation’ of money or capital, it is the accumulation of already existing money. Pedantic perhaps, but it needs to be outlined for clarity.

Now, onto another favourite term of the Right: ‘job creators’. Now this one is a little more pertinent. It is not the accuracy of the term in question this time, but the implication. Jobs indeed do have to be created, but the source of jobs is wrongly implied to be the benevolent rich.

Jobs are not a gift to the feckless or desperate, yet this fallacy does not seem to be questioned. I’ve even heard some people laud the wealthy, as ‘poor men have never given me a job’. Perhaps this deference is in its way worthy, but it is ludicrous in its justification. It is clear to anyone with a functioning mind that jobs are not created out of altruism or a sense of the greater good; they are created because there is a need for additional labour. This extra labour is required to deal with additional demand. Demand has always been the only driving force behind businesses expanding, and yet history is being rewritten to suggest to the ignorant that it is the benevolent rich who invest when they do not feel oppressed by taxation. Of course, businesses would still not invest in new staff if these extra staff could not generate enough income to cover their wages and still turn more profit. So much for altruism.

It is not too difficult to cut through the weasel words and failed ideologies of zealots, but when the media keep lending them credibility, we may all end up thinking like fools.

We live in uncertain and unjust times, where hypocrisy and superficiality abound now more than ever.

A hypocrisy that means a distant relative of the Queen now rules over us, despite feudalism and nobility being antiquated and anachronistic concepts for many centuries. A hypocrisy that sees a man whose previous career highlights consisted of NHS data entry and working at Selfridges appointed as Chancellor of the Exchequer, despite never studying economics; a man who tells the populace he governs that they must live with austerity via his public service cuts when he himself is heir to a £4million fortune. A hypocrisy that sees the Conservative-led coalition condemning (if you’ll forgive the pun) the destruction of property at their Millbank headquarters by students fighting for their future prospects, when, as members of the notorious ‘Bullingdon Club’, they used to revel in vandalism for no cause other than cheap (if you’ll forgive another pun) thrills. A hypocrisy that saw the leader of the Liberal Deomocrats eschewing a core manifesto promise of no increase in University tuition fees because he ‘realised there was no alternative’ when he joined the coalition, perhaps at the same time that he realised that hoping for political reform in the form of Proportional Representation wasn’t really worth fighting for after all. And of course a hypocrisy that sees the State clamping down on welfare fraudsters when it is well-documented that corporate tax evasion costs the country many times more.

It would be nice if politicians could be held accountable for decisions which were proven to have far too great a social cost for too superficial a benefit, but unfortunately legions of spin-doctors would prevent this from ever being allowed to happen.

Not from a system which means that Maggie is afforded the very finest healthcare and comfort around the clock as she heads into senility while redundant miners and their families slide into chronic ill-health, depression and suicide from their plight. A system which also sees Tony Blair working to broker peace in a Middle East he has been complicit in tearing apart with his oil wars.