The Politics of ...

The Politics of ...

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Money Can't Buy You Poverty

My dear old friend Andy Winter's late father was one of the reasons I have been a vehement supporter of the Labour party. I was from a family of Labour voters and when I met Roger for the first time I was a die-hard leftie. One of his key messages was that Britain should be a fair country with equality. He wasn't the first person to say this to me - one of Roger's bete noir's in the Labour Party and one of my (and Andy's) ex-bosses, former mayor of Northampton, John ("I'm not dead yet, honest") Rawlings did around the same time; but this was 1984 and Thatcher seemed to have been here forever. Where Roger was a bit left wing, John was more centre ground and he believed in slightly more liberal views - a proto-Blair perhaps (although John would baulk at that and Andy would probably laugh).

The thing was I have always been closer to the Winter's in my real politics than anyone else, so when Andy turned his back on Labour a few years ago I couldn't understand it, I mean, there was no viable alternative, so why throw away your vote? Well, he didn't, did he? Labour hasn't been elected for two General Elections and if you read the papers they don't look like they'll see a whiff of power again before I'm ash in a cannister on the mantelpiece.

Labour probably are in disarray and with hindsight they deserve it. Since Blair departed, Labour has turned it's back on the obvious and championed the idiotic. It elected an unelectable leader - Miliband and steadfastly stuck by him and even believed for a while he might win. as delusions go this is pretty grandiose. They bent over and took every accusation and every bit of blame for the previous world recession, despite actually not being responsible. Not once, during all those Cameron and Osborne lies did someone stand up and say 'You are wrong, stop lying or back this bullshit up with facts." But that note, left by Labour, stopped the party from regaining the truthful moral high ground and allowed the Tories to lie repeatedly. The failure to address this defamation was obvious every week. The Tories told a lie and people believed them, so Labour didn't tell the truth because they were scared no one would believe them. That is a spineless attitude and one that deserved to lose.

Now, we have a situation where for the first time since Roger Winter was alive there's a genuine left wing candidate with a chance of winning the right to govern his party - or in Jeremy Corbyn's case start to go to war with his own party. This is a man who put himself up for candidacy on the basis that someone from the left should go up against the Blair clones and started at 100-1 to win. He is now second favourite and actually looks like he could win the vote based on second choices of Labour voters. This should make people happy, but what it has done is set the press and politics into a frenzy of vitriol and recriminations - there's an odd kind of visible panic.

The Daily Telegraph, a paper that occasionally belies its fascist roots, started the ball rolling by urging Tories to register as Labour voters to ensure Corbyn is elected, that way Labour would never get re-elected ever again. Then we had a couple of Blairite idiots stating if Corbyn is elected they and 56 other MPs will force a motion to have him removed - a vote of no confidence before a word has been spoken. Now we have Mr Warmonger himself wading in and telling people that labour needs to be more central, like he was. He was a Tory who had no hope of succeeding in his own party, so became a Labour MP and turned Labour into a kind of caring conservative party (small 'c' deliberate).

Do you know what this says to me and must be saying to every other casual observer? This says people are frightened of Corbyn and not just because he represents part of the party long thought of as extinct, but because he's now setting the agenda on the hustings; he's got people talking; he's like a male ageing bearded Nicola Sturgeon - people are listening to him and going, "You know, he might be on to something..."

The press and mainstream Labour are screaming that this is a bad thing; but are they protesting too much? Apparently left wing politics is a poison chalice and no one in their right mind believes in it any more. Being left wing is being anachronistic to current needs and concerns. Except, the Scottish National Party is socialist and they destroyed the opposition in Scotland. Plaid Cymru is left wing and they stole a lot of Labour votes, again. And here's a weird one, many working class Labour supporters think UKIP is more left wing than Labour and this is based on the fact that once upon a time Labour didn't want us in Europe. One of my neighbours voted UKIP and his reasoning was that they reminded him of the Labour party when he was younger.

Forget the scary part of that and extrapolate the information. Owen Jones - highly respected left wing commentator suggested that Labour, or the left (to be more accurate), should organise a thoughtful and specifically targeted European Exit - campaign for us leaving the EU because the EU is about a democratic as ISIS and advocates economic Nazism and oppression of people in favour of profit. I think, as a standalone issue, this has deeply concerned a lot of people sitting on the In/Out fence; suddenly Europe looks as evil as Farage has been saying for years. If Cameron holds his referendum then Labour should either abstain from the debate or set the agenda by suggesting we don't need to be part of a club that bullies and kicks dirt in the face of its poorest members and then expects them to starve to death just so a bank doesn't lose profits. Steal that ground from UKIP, because there is approaching 50%, at least, of the population who are leaning towards a Brexit at the moment.

But I digress. If a left wing Labour is so abhorrent and a guaranteed vote loser, then how come Wales, Scotland and even Northern Ireland have strong left wing parties? How come these countries are beginning to embrace fairness and equality, yet in England it is regarded as anathema? Maybe because it's not. Maybe it's the right wing press and the right leaning Labour people who are worried, because Greece elected a bunch of commies (and look at the hassle they're causing); Spain might do the same, so might Portugal. The Left is rising because the Right no longer cares about individuals, it only cares about profit and sometimes that's too much.

Ask yourself this - if Jeremy Corbyn is so bad, why has his stock risen faster than a teenager's penis at an orgy? How come he's gone from the token leftie to almost the heir apparent? It's not been the media; so perhaps what he's saying is appealing to Labour voters. Perhaps Labour supporters do not want to go central; do not want to embrace this ideology that Osborne is pushing through. Perhaps die-hard Labour people believe that the welfare state is there because it is needed not because its a hindrance. We all accept the welfare state needs some kind of reform, it doesn't need destroying.

Perhaps Corbyn scares people because he will emphasise the difference between the welfare budget  - £1.2billion in total excluding pensions - against the £10trillion (that's 100 times greater) lost in tax evasion, deals done by ministers that prevent companies from being responsible for when they cock up and deals for their mates. No one in Labour for five years has even bothered to go there, believing it to be too toxic a discussion - or maybe a topic that they just don't want to do anything about.

We're told every day that the people voted for this kind of change; I don't think that's the case. By voting intentions alone we saw people doing what they did in 1992 - they opted to stick with the devil they knew; it had nothing to do with policies and all to do with personality and failure to focus on the issues that mattered. Miliband was a car crash waiting to happen from the moment the centre of the party decided he was a better bet than his brother.

Corbyn talks the talk for someone like me. yes, he's 66 and that alone smacks in the face of politics needing young, fresh faces to attract people who don't vote. This is also bullshit; people don't vote because they don't feel inclined to. Voting should be compulsory and punishable with community service if you don't exercise that right, but you can't do that if people argue that they didn't vote because none of the parties represent them. If nothing else Corbyn is trying to bring topics to the discussion that his three rivals don't want to talk about and perhaps this is why he's having such an impact. If people are worried about him they're worried because he's saying new things, or things no one else talks about - things that mean something to disaffected voters.

I decided yesterday that I was no longer a Labour supporter, but if Jeremy Corbyn wins then he'll get my support (or until he starts kowtowing to the powers that be). He'll do this because I think he's talking sense in a contest that seems to want to elect a Tory-lite candidate when the country doesn't want another one. If Burnham or Cooper win (and I was a huge advocate of Cooper for years until recently) then I have two choices - become like so many others who don't vote, or move to Scotland or Wales where I can vote with a clear conscience for a party that believes in fairness and equality; because at the moment there isn't a party that offers this in England that stands even a remotely possible chance of being elected.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Could it be the End of the World as we know it?

The rich are getting richer. The divide between us and them is wider than at any point.
The world is becoming less safe. Either through wars, disease, politics or austerity.
The media is obsessed with our fears. It seems to have an agenda that wants to take our minds off of domestic issues and wants to focus on things that many find superfluous or even insulting.

However, possibly the scariest thing is how we've all been led to believe that we have a say in how agendas are set. The press and media, the government, the internet makes us all think that we have an influence, so therefore if the Home Secretary talks about stripping away some of your civil liberties in the name of safety, the world is such an unsafe place many people would welcome this. They have nothing to hide and those who do protest either have something to hide or a some mental case with conspiracy theories and tin foil hats. Or some leftie.

I've maintained for ages that our politicians really are akin to buffoons and so in tune with the real world they look like disco dads at a '70s dance, DJ'ed by Jimmy S for good measure. This illusion of 'inclusion' really is a myth. For people to think some tweet or telephone call they've made might put something on a list of topics to be discussed seriously is less sane than believing you can breath on the moon. If our politicians weren't just in it for themselves, subjects such as the massive number of cock-ups and deaths caused by the DWP's mishandling of Universal Credits and their 'non-existent' targets they don't have to fill or the fact that more money was avoided being paid in tax than the entire country's budget deficit would be on the agenda; yet the major political parties are still telling us how we're going to have to pay for it all, again and again and again...

This was possibly one of the most important issues of the election, yet the apparent desire to get the money the massive corporations owe us and not keep screwing the plebs disappeared when the British public decided it was actually more right wing and selfish than many of us believed. But tax evasion isn't on the agenda of the Tories despite being an obvious elephant in the room. The welfare budget is about £1.2billion and four out of five voters think this is too high. This is because the right wing influenced media (far more prevalent than any left wing media) has told us that £1.2billion is too high and must be stopped. It would be nice for someone, maybe a prospective Labour leader or a non-Tory paper to highlight the fact that tax evasion amounts to HUNDREDS of BILLIONS of POUNDS. Or that deals done between ministerial mates costs the country MANY BILLIONS. But you know, I don't claim benefits so why should someone who needs them get them, they should get a job, or sell their children or just die to save us money. And the average Joe will defend his selfish position by saying they voted Tory for their children's futures. The words 'Tories' and 'children's futures' are as compatible as sticking a beta tape into a VHS recorder. Tories don't invest for the future, if they did they'd see that renewable energy would make them considerably more money in the long run than coal or nuclear power. Or they would have rebuilt schools, hospital and amenities during the Thatcher and Major years. You might remember that it was Blair's party that rebuilt decaying Britain and now you Tory voters have elected them back to allow the country to decay again until someone comes along and fixes it. Stupid, that's what the electorate tend to be.

The fact we live in a world where over 1 million people seem to think that punching a work colleague in the face is acceptable if the person throwing the punch is a 'national treasure'. Or the imminent destruction of Greece by the German Economic Nazi Party and their mates at the ECB. It seems that in a time when everyone is apologising to everyone else for past indiscretions, Germany thinks it's distasteful to be reminded that most of the countries in Europe pretty much verbally wrote off all of Germany's post-Hitler debts allowing them the help to become the economic powerhouse it is today, while Merkel looms over the Greek people like some Teutonic Freddy Krueger, telling them the nightmare is far from over and they all must continue to suffer for the crimes of a former corrupt administration. Germany can't have physical wars with other countries, so they bully them all using money.

What with radical Islam; growing Arab insurgence and a withering relationship with the west; a strangely quiet Israel and all adjacent to this is Africa, which is rife with 3rd world angst, disease, radicalisation and prejudices - and as a result they view Britain as the Holy Land and constantly try to break into a country where, ironically, its indigenous poor are all in fear of their lives.

The far right is growing and oddly enough so is the far left, except it will be crushed by capitalistic right wing governments, because democracy is dead and at some point, some people will realise this and rise up.

War. Revolution. Disease. Famine. Inequality. Prejudice. The list of pretty horrible things grows every day; to people old enough this must be a little like the 1930s except televised and tweeted. The thing is the poor countries want capitalism so they can have what the rest have; and the rest no longer want the richest 1% to have most of it. There might not be the fight in the British for revolution any more - we're too fat or ill or depressed - but there is all over the world; from race rearing its ugly head again in the USA to the Ukraine to North Korea to something akin to history repeating itself - Argentina talking up ownership of the Falklands at a time when their president is struggling to hold onto her country or its support.

Cameron is so confident of the Tories being in power for a while he's already talking up his own war - against ISIS - because prime ministers love to have a war on their CVs. The SNP look to be the only 'organised' party in opposition and the Labour Party is headed for yet another political schism because it no longer has a common ground. The Labour party disgusts me like never before at the moment because the suits are trying to turn it into something it has never been and the real members are essentially being ignored because they might elect someone the suits can't accept. I think Jeremy Corbyn would be a bad thing for Labour, but in an awful situation he's a damned sight more acceptable than the three stuffed suits and pseudo-Conservatives vying for the crown. I have supported Labour all my life, now I am in a political wasteland because there's no one I'd be happy voting for.

Oh and just going back to the Greek business. The UK holds an unbelievably important key to the future of the EU - the In-Out Referendum. Twelve months ago if you'd asked all the MPs in Westminster how they'd vote, you'd see 90% of them in support of staying in Europe. I expect that would be the same today. The big difference here is that 12 months ago almost 70% of Brits would vote to stay in; today the polls (always a laughable example) suggest that figure is down 55% and is still falling. The undemocratic way Greece has been treated has soured a lot of peoples attitudes towards the EU. If Britain votes to pull out next year, it will all come down like a badly designed house of cards. We might not be classed as that important by the Euro crowd, but without any cement, the European house will crumble and fail.

The world is a horrible place for many people at the moment, but for some people it's okay and that's all that matters. I got vilified for suggesting friends and family adopted the 'I'm all right Jack' philosophy that Thatcher championed, by voting Tory and rubber stamping their demonisation of the poor, disenfranchised and disabled. I was accused of scaremongering, of lying about Tory intentions to scare people into voting Labour. I didn't, that was the job of the Tory's papers and media. In the days since they won the election many of the things I warned of are happening, but I have no desire whatsoever to seek out the people who shouted at me and accused me of being disrespectful to their voting intentions. I am also not going to ask for them to acknowledge I was right, because it achieves nothing. If people want to accept being butt-fucked because someone has told them they need to be then they need a lot more help than some twat gloating over his prophecies.

The Tories might turn out to be a benign power, who do what they can for their people. There is evidence that they are not as shit as they could have been, but as with all Tories there is a caveat and that usually means that the poorest non-Tory voters will be punished and in 2015 the British people seem to have lost their compassion and if they don't know an unemployed person, or a disabled person to balance their opinions, then the rest are obviously scrounging thieving bastards, so if they don't get off their death beds and contribute they should die horribly. People are like this now, they just wouldn't admit to it in civilised company.

Monday, 13 July 2015

What's in a Name

A large percentage of my friends and acquaintances are left-wing politically. In fact, despite knowing quite a few Tory and UKIP voters, you'd be surprised to know they're not evil; they're not necessarily in the 'I'm alright Jack' camp nor are they unaware of some of the things that I and many of my friends have tried to make public knowledge.

What the general election did was tell Labour that people trust them less now than five years ago and they've been in opposition. Their election campaign didn't really get off the ground, it only looked that way and because the Tories adopted only had a couple of mantras (that some of the press suggested was a negative campaign) that both worked and vilified Labour enough to not allow any trust back. The irony is had the Tories been in power instead of Labour during Gordon Brown's tenancy, we really might have been worse off.

Regardless of what horror stories you can show people, Ed Miliband and his team became more toxic as the campaign went on - for the average person. Pollsters, politicians, pundits and not us plebs were in a bubble of what ifs and smug fait accompli; while the press, whatever side they were on, did their best, most people just made up their minds on the way to the polling station and like in 1992, didn't like the possible unknown over the hard realities. End of. Subject closed for five years.

Except, the right-leaning press, the media and bloggers are calling this a watershed moment for Labour. Suggesting that this election has been so damaging it could have serious implications for their ability to win an election for a generation - aside from the fact that two weeks ago commentators were suggesting whoever wins inherits a poison chalice, that appears to have been forgotten about because of Labour's woeful performance. Except... It wasn't really woeful.

Labour probably got what they deserved because they fall between two stools too often. Red Ed and Business Balls seemed less authentic - less genuine - than Posh Dave and Gorgeous Gideon, who clearly haven't got a clue about some things but still managed to convince the voters they were the best and most honest alternative. It did seem like they were making reactionary promises - "You have my promise - child tax credits will be safe under the Conservatives" has magically managed to disappear and has been ignored by the right wing press. 

If the press is right and Labour are now in a serious crisis, then the answer might be in the polls.

I want to ask you a question and this is where I'm struggling with semantics because of our fantastic language. UKIP is a British Nationalist Party and I'm not suggesting they're just the BNP in a different coat, but they are a Nationalist/English-centric party. They got a big - LibDem sized - chunk of the vote. UKIP's politics whatever you think of it seemed to appeal to the nationalists in this country and I don't believe for a minute that that percentage of the population are all ignorant racists; many of them voted UKIP because they believed they would help the NHS, look after the disabled and be fairer and less ... political. It's political ignorance at its worst, but in a country where politics is hated by most people it's the best you're going to achieve.

The other shock of the election was the Scottish National Party. They are now the unanimous winners of Scotland. You do not associate the SNP with the BNP do you? When you look at Nicola Sturgeon you don't think she's Nick Griffin's sister or Nigel Farage's cousin do you? You can't imagine her or Salmond or any of the other 56 MPs marching on Edinburgh demanding a Scotland just for the white Scottish with a palpable undercurrent of violence and hate, can you?

Plaid Cymru is the Welsh National Party - once upon a time they might have had an arson problem among their ranks, but they're essentially just like the SNP - they are what the Labour party of the 1980s would have been had it been recreated in the 21st century. These are left wing parties that command a lot of respect in their own countries. UKIP got a lot of votes on the basis they were English and wanted what was best for England - that actually isn't much different from what Leann Wood or Nicola Sturgeon were saying, the big difference is UKIP is driven by right wing ideology and that historically tends to veer towards a more fascistic end.

What if UKIP had been a mirror-image of the SNP? What if Nigel Farage had been the same beer-swilling, fag smoking good old boy, but had similar politics to the SNP? Well, it wouldn't happen, but if in some weird reality it did and this Farage was pro-Europe except with a deep concern about the amount of immigrants coming into the country in comparison to the amount of people unemployed or on zero hours contracts, and a desire to possibly look at changes to benefits rules to ensure the large bigoted amount of the population feel it is being dealt with? UKIP ended up appealing to old skool Labour despite it being a party that makes Dave and Gideon's look centralist. 

If Labour is 'finished' as a centre-left party and need to move further right to encourage the middle ground of Britain to vote for them again, to ensure that kind of majority, then what about all the people who have proved that what they want is a Labour party that is further left than it put itself, but also wants people to aspire and become rich and feel justified and not penalised about paying higher taxes for the privilege of being better off than others. 

Modern socialism doesn't appear to know what it is and therefore has allowed a new form of right-wing communism - commonly referred to as Capitalism - to have become the only reason for us all to survive. If we are not making money for someone we're not a useful member of society and even if we're disabled or mentally unstable that is no longer the problem of anyone but the sufferer and his or her people. If you can't make 'the man' money then you are not contributing to society and it is allowable to think of you as second class.

Now, here's where it gets, knowing me, slightly ironic and humorous. What England needs (because Scotland and Wales have them already) is a socialist nationalist party that also thinks of itself as British and is still concerned about the population of the United Kingdom - being English means being British - full stop.

Except... Socialist Nationalism is not what Plaid or SNP are by any stretch of the imagination. The name that is most closely associated with socialist nationalism is ... um... really, really unfortunate. Take your pick: Hitler or Nazis. That's what that is.

Unfortunately if you type Nationalist Socialism into a search engine the Nazis always come out on top and even if you are the most left wing party in the universe this combination of words just doesn't cut it. Can you imagine the uphill struggle they would face just to explain that their name doesn't mean they want to cook people in ovens.

So what are the SNP?

The SNP's policy base is mostly in the mainstream European social democratic tradition. Among its policies are commitments to same-sex marriage, reducing the voting age to 16, unilateral nuclear disarmament, progressive personal taxation, the eradication of poverty, the building of affordable social housing, government subsidized higher education, opposition to the building of new nuclear power plants, investment in renewable energy and pay increases for nurses and key public sector workers, such as social workers and children's support. 

You look at those policies and there's not a lot wrong with them although I could see Tories baulking at a progressive personal taxation scheme and the other things they can't make heaps of money from. Except, I don't think the SNP is anti-wealth; they're a 21st century party and appreciate that there is as much need for rich as there are for lower waged, because it helps with the aspirations and we need a time where aspirations have to be encouraged in tandem with social fairness and investment in the future from both government and private sector. That sounds like a pretty liberal agenda by 'socialist' standards and I bet you this is the real reason why they won so many seats, because unlike the undecideds in England, the Scots ones said they wanted fairness and progressive government that views everyone as important.

Why can't that kind of politics exist in England. The Greens offer some of that. Labour offers some of that. Lib Dems offer some of that. Surprisingly UKIP even offers some of that. The problem is if the Conservatives or the right wing were as flaky as the left every time they had a party crisis they would have split into myriad different shades of blue. If the Tories had self-destructed the way the left wing regularly does we'd have to have coalition governments because we'd have 20 different parties all with similar but slightly varying ideology and separated by everything from xenophobia to welfare reforms - or Italy as it is often referred to. The Tories are super glue, Labour is a Pritt stick. Conservatism is more cohesive than socialism and people sometimes vote for stability and Jesus, don't the Tories remain stable even when they're in turmoil?

Maybe it's time for a radical approach? Maybe it's time for the left side of the Kingdom to unite and embrace both the issues that deeply concern them and some of the issues that ultimately have led to a Tory victory. Surely it's not in the national interest to have the left side of the political spectrum to be so shattered? Surely national interest should also apply to national politics? It has to be important because it's important to have diversity in everything.

Labour needs to do something I wouldn't have given house room last May had I contemplated defeat of that scale. It needs to ditch any of the Blair/Brown government from its shadow cabinet and more importantly it needs to elect a leader who cannot be associated with the former administration in any way than name. That'd be Jeremy Corbyn then.

If they can do this, then the most radical ideas might be to see if it can create a United Kingdom Nationalist party - a Labour party united with the SNP, Plaid and the SDLP could promote itself as the party that is fighting for the UK as independent political organisations united with a common goal. Have generally similar manifestos and a joint one that promotes growth and fairness as much as aspiration and wealth creation.

Be transparent. Be united. Have disagreements, like the Tories have all the time, but don't allow small differences to prevent moving forward. We've seen throughout history how putting aside differences and finding common ground has benefited mankind.

Labour have lost the pizazz they had in the late 90s and they discovered that peoples dislike of a party benefits the other even if they're not much better. Blair won three elections because people had long memories of Thatcher and what they remembered as the 'punitive right' punishing the poor - punishing the people who didn't vote for them. What Blair did was make labour less toxic for the right, in reality New Labour didn't win by virtue of policies and promises, it won because it wasn't the Tories.

If someone asked me (and they won't) what I'd do, I'd keep it simple. Go back to simple root and branch economics and social policies. Work out the long term affects of everything; don't take unnecessary risks with human lives.

... Now, I wrote this originally back at the start of June. I also wrote a companion piece to this about how the Conservatives play the 'long game' so much better than Labour because Thatcher stole the idea from one of Reagan's advisers - employing probability specialists to look at a multitude of possible outcomes to anything. I also wrote this at a time before Gideon's first budget, that looks extremely fair on the surface but may well come back to bite him and Dave on the arse before 2020. This was also written before the rise of the Economic Nazi party, or Germany as it is often referred to. In a world where banks are regularly bailed out by countries and other banks to the tune of TRILLIONS, best part of Europe want to crush the Greek people under their jackboot heels and effectively turn what is essentially a third world country on mainland Europe into a wasteland of human failure and misery. Alexis Tsipras is on the verge of being humiliated and crushed by the big boys of Europe; his country will face extreme punitive measures for 30 years, where almost everyone will be made to pay for their bankers excesses. That's what our European Union does now - it ruins people and places so that shareholders - the rich - get more.

This isn't the Europe I've supported for years. This is capitalist fascism with added cruelty and I think of myself as well schooled in politics and understanding Europe and how it all works and I have to tell you, on this simple issue alone, I'd vote for us to come out of Europe, because I don't want to be part of a club that has no regard for human life.