It is currently Wed Jan 22, 2020 1:57 am

All times are UTC+01:00




Post new topic  Reply to topic  [ 163 posts ]  Go to page Previous 13 4 5 6 7
Author Message
 Post subject: Re: UK Election 2015
PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2015 6:46 pm 
Offline
Lieutenant-Colonel
Lieutenant-Colonel
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jun 01, 2006 3:40 pm
Posts: 17637
Slacks wrote:
Nobody is ashamed of being conservative, and the press isn't particularly left wing. You should have seen the papers the day before the elections. One of the Main tabloids had a pic of Miliband awkwardly eating a bacon sandwich with a headline of "Don't let this man make a pigs ears of the country too".

I think people voted Conservative because there was a perceived lack of genuine alternatives, and there's definitely a sense of a "better the devil you know" feel about the whole thing.


Tabloids are one thing. But I heard what seemed like palpable crying on some of the BBC coverage I caught over the weekend.

Any idea why the polls failed to predict the results?

Recent polling also failed to predict Likud's win in Israel and the size of the massive Republican wave during last year's mid-term elections.


Top
   
 Post subject: Re: UK Election 2015
PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2015 11:17 pm 
Offline
Sergeant
Sergeant
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2005 12:00 pm
Posts: 1021
People in England got scared of the SNP calling the shots. That's pretty much it. Gonna be interesting to see what happens with the EU referendum. I see there are calls for all 4 member states of the UK to vote if we stay in or not. A sensible option and one Cameron, who seems to be pro EU may go for. Scotland is pro EU I think. England's full of xenophobic people and Poles.

_________________
Formally known as Silentbob2000


Top
   
 Post subject: Re: UK Election 2015
PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2015 12:02 am 
Online
Brigadier General
Brigadier General
User avatar

Joined: Mon Mar 01, 2004 9:42 am
Posts: 26922
Lofarl wrote:
People in England got scared of the SNP calling the shots. That's pretty much it. Gonna be interesting to see what happens with the EU referendum. I see there are calls for all 4 member states of the UK to vote if we stay in or not. A sensible option and one Cameron, who seems to be pro EU may go for. Scotland is pro EU I think. England's full of xenophobic people and Poles.





Oi oi oi!


There's nothing wrong with the Poles 95% are hard working fuckers.

_________________
Empir immoto


Top
   
 Post subject: Re: UK Election 2015
PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2015 9:11 am 
Offline
Holyman
Holyman
User avatar

Joined: Sat Jun 04, 2005 1:00 pm
Posts: 17585
Location: Earth
Foota wrote:
Any idea why the polls failed to predict the results?


It has thrown the Pollsters into a spin. It's a repeat of exactly what happened in the 1992 General Election.

The polls got it exactly right in Scotland, and in Northern Ireland. It was only in England and Wales where the pre-Election polls were so wide of the mark.

Of course, there's a great Post-Mortem now underway, primarily I guess, to prop up the fees that the pollsters will still be trying to charge for their services...

The "Shy Tory" effect seems to be at the heart of it. When asked prior to the Election, many respondents aspirationally gave an answer other than Conservative... But when it came to the actual crunch...

My theory, for what it's worth:

Most people in the U.K. are really struggling financially. Something like 75% of households are living from paycheck-to-paycheck - i.e. they have no savings and could not afford to miss a single month's pay-packet. The percentage of non-Mortgaged debt is also something like 150% of *NET* household income, on average - i.e. if there is £50k coming into the household (which is above average), then that household owes £75k on credit cards, unsecured loans, hire-purchase agreements &c. And it is estimated that this percentage will only rise in the coming years: http://touchstoneblog.org.uk/2015/02/uk ... the-world/

There is still a very high level of insecurity in the U.K. job market; a high degree of social uncertainty; and Brits are generally starting to feel like pelicans (everywhere they look, there is a giant bill in front of their face...).

Against this backdrop, I think the old Class Conditioning kicked in when it came to pressing the Button on Polling Day.

People asked themselves if, given all the above, they would rather have an uninspiring (though doubtlessly well-meaning) leader of the Labour Party as Prime Minister; or an Eton-educated, paternalistic, Establishment figure.

Personal and National Finances are fucked: Brits asked themselves if they would rather have as Prime Minister, someone who looks like just another bewildered Bank customer; or someone who looks and sounds like a Bank Manager.

In other words then, the result reflected personal priorities and insecurities; whereas the pre-Election polls reflected personal aspirations and moral priorities.

But again, let's be very clear here:

The "Swing" was ever-so-slightly to Labour in England and Wales; and *MASSIVELY* to the Left-Wing SNP in Scotland.

The only reason that the Election Result is being marketed as a Conservative Triumph, is *BECAUSE* of the disparity between the pre-Election Polls, and the eventual result.

:-??

_________________
Image

"We are moving into an era where authority cannot be the Truth.

Only the Truth shall be the Authority in coming times, as the sanctity of all authorities will be questioned."
- Sadhguru


Top
   
 Post subject: Re: UK Election 2015
PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2015 9:15 am 
Offline
Major General
Major General
User avatar

Joined: Fri Oct 01, 2004 12:00 pm
Posts: 34571
Lofarl wrote:
Scotland is pro EU I think.


It would be slightly odd if Scotland left the UK but remained part of the EU.

_________________
Norks


Top
   
 Post subject: Re: UK Election 2015
PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2015 9:51 am 
Offline
Holyman
Holyman
User avatar

Joined: Sat Jun 04, 2005 1:00 pm
Posts: 17585
Location: Earth
Foota wrote:
I am also intrigued at the dichotomy of the SNP wanting independence from Britain.........yet they want to stay in the EU.


No, no dichotomy here.

The European Union is not a Sovereign State. Scotland being a member of the E.U. in its own right, as an independent state in and of itself, is no more dichotomous than if it wanted a seat at the United Nations, or wanted to join N.A.T.O.

For the last 300 years or so, Scotland has been ruled as a region of Great Britain by political leaders in London. If Scotland becomes independent of England, and joins the European Union as a Member State, it will not be ruled by political leaders in Brussels.

You should bear in mind that the European Union is primarily an Economic Union, rather than a political one. N.A.T.O. is more of a political union than the E.U. is.

There are, of course, several initiatives to try and elevate the European Union to a Political Union (more of that shortly, in my response to Slacks...); but for now, it exists purely to ensure that there are no barriers to trade between the E.U. Member States.

:-bd

_________________
Image

"We are moving into an era where authority cannot be the Truth.

Only the Truth shall be the Authority in coming times, as the sanctity of all authorities will be questioned."
- Sadhguru


Top
   
 Post subject: Re: UK Election 2015
PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2015 10:19 am 
Offline
Holyman
Holyman
User avatar

Joined: Sat Jun 04, 2005 1:00 pm
Posts: 17585
Location: Earth
Slacks wrote:
holyman - you're sounding distinctly pro-EU!


Actually, I wouldn’t say I was pro the European Union in its current form.

I am – as is well documented – very much pro-World.

Best as I can tell, Human Society expends and wastes enormous quantities of wealth and resources, squabbling amongst itself. And all that, because of some imaginary divisions they’ve established between themselves, in the form of “National Borders”.

10,000 years ago, the Human Race lived in defensible, obviously demarcated, tribal regions, usually centred around one or more key settlements. The “Enemy” was anyone and everyone from neighbouring settlements declared to be another tribal region.

2,000 years ago, most if not all of these tribal regions were gathered together under Emperors and “Empires” – Greek, Roman, Persian, Chinese &c. But those “Empires” always managed to collapse under their own weight, never achieving anything like longevity… Except the Chinese, of course.

Then, after all the major Empires (except the Chinese) had collapsed, it was back to Tribal Regions.

But about 1,500 years ago – perhaps having learned the lesson from Imperial Subjugation – Humans acknowledged the sense of Safety in Numbers, and started coming together in larger tribal groupings, usually called “Kingdoms”.

About 500 years ago, several “Kingdoms” became dominant, and the “Nations” that we know today started to take shape.

About 300 years ago, the foremost European “Nations” set about resurrecting the idea of “Empire”, colonising and conquering large areas of the World and “uniting” (or subjugating) those areas under a single Imperial Identity.

A century ago, most of those European Empires clashed, really quite horribly and self-destructively. And 50 years ago, with the “De-Colonisation” process, those “Empires” disintegrated, and we were back to Nations.

At about the same time, the concept of “Continental Trading Blocs” started to form, primarily in Europe. And the first of the Continental Unions was formed – the European Economic Community. The E.E.C./E.U. was followed by the African Union, the Arab League, the Mercosur (South America), and the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation.

And now, we have the Eurasian Economic Union, which brings Russia and China together, and all points in-between.

So what we are seeing is a coagulation of all those (once) disparate tribes, into greater and greater economic unions, paving the way for political unions.

At the same time, we also have the Elite Strata of Human Society (the “1%”, if you like) already behaving in a Trans-National Way. The Ultra-Wealthy – usually for tax reasons – are reluctant to declare themselves domiciled in any single one of the quaint “Nations” that children are still taught about in school. And Global Corporations – definitely for tax reasons – behave in the same way.

So when I’m proselytising about a Global Human Union, and people say, “Yeah, yeah, dream on.”; I have to respond that I’m not dreaming, I’m just pointing out the inevitable (and approaching much faster than many people think…) end-state of Human Society.

Forget Moral Purpose; forget Political Expediency; forget Conservative Intransigence: this is simple Sociological Darwinism at work.

The United States is doing its level best to try and retard the process, because it cannot bear the thought of not being the Number One “Exceptional” Nation. But it stands no more chance of halting this process than the tribal King Canute had of turning back the tides.

It is so obviously the most practical and beneficial move for Human Beings as a whole, that even though many may be reluctant to admit it is what they hope for, it is precisely what they will get.

The U.S. spends 1 trillion dollars a year (and more), militarily opposing “non-Americans”. The Rest of the World combined usually aims to match that figure.

No more National Borders: no more Military Expenditure. And the Human Race could sure do a lot with a spare $2 trillion a year…

It will happen. It is happening. It is the only outcome that can endure. There is no alternative.

And the process will go much more smoothly and rapidly, when people give up trying to avoid the inevitable outcome.

:-??

_________________
Image

"We are moving into an era where authority cannot be the Truth.

Only the Truth shall be the Authority in coming times, as the sanctity of all authorities will be questioned."
- Sadhguru


Top
   
 Post subject: Re: UK Election 2015
PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2015 6:58 pm 
Offline
First Sergeant
First Sergeant
User avatar

Joined: Sat Jul 02, 2005 12:00 am
Posts: 6123
Location: Vancouver BC
well technically it was Scotland that took over England since it was James 1 the king of Scotland who gained control of the crown of England and merged the 2 kingdoms together - hence the term United Kingdom.

so really this whole independence thing is a bit of a misnomer. really we should be looking at it like Scotland giving freedom to their southern colonies.


Top
   
 Post subject: Re: UK Election 2015
PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2015 7:56 pm 
Offline
Major General
Major General
User avatar

Joined: Fri Oct 01, 2004 12:00 pm
Posts: 34571
geronimo95 wrote:
well technically it was Scotland that took over England since it was James 1 the king of Scotland who gained control of the crown of England


What? WHAT?

Right that's it, I demand a referendum for English independence.

_________________
Norks


Top
   
 Post subject: Re: UK Election 2015
PostPosted: Thu Jun 04, 2015 1:12 pm 
Offline
Holyman
Holyman
User avatar

Joined: Sat Jun 04, 2005 1:00 pm
Posts: 17585
Location: Earth
JUNE 03, 2015

Chinese Students Learn That British Democracy isn't all They Thought It Was

UK Election: the View from China

by BEN KEEGAN


As an English teacher working in a Chinese university, I took the opportunity following the recent UK election to introduce my students to a little something called democracy. They didn’t relish this as much as you may think, as many of them have been successfully conditioned into believing that one-party government is the best way. However, they did enjoy the opportunity to learn more about the British system, as all of them will be travelling overseas to work or study, many of them to Britain. I have three cohorts of students: university foundation course students destined to join British universities; local government workers being sent to study in British universities; and Chinese professors planning to go overseas, mostly to America, as visiting scholars.

Socioeconomically these groups are quite divergent. The university students are largely from wealthy families who can afford to pay the high fees that British universities charge overseas students. Conversely, many of the university professors hail from very poor backgrounds, although having fought their way to the upper echelons of Chinese society, they can now gain lucrative work on government projects that can substantially boost their relatively meagre teaching wages. The local government workers are probably the most middle class of the three cohorts, although they would insist they aren’t because most Chinese people consider themselves comfortably off only when they are rich.

During my week of classes I gave the students in each of my classes (totalling around 180 students) a brief overview of the election pledges of the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, the Greens and UKIP. As a class we then went through the overview together while I explained difficult words (and ideas) such as referendum where necessary, being careful not to sway their decision-making process by offering any of my own views on the five parties. Once they understood what each of the five parties were offering I gave them ten minutes to make a decision and allowed them to discuss openly amongst themselves.

Then came the voting. This required two or three attempts with most classes, as Chinese students of any age don’t like to vote on anything. This may not, however, be due to unfamiliarity with the act, but rather because they are mortally afraid of ‘losing face’, by saying or doing the wrong thing in front of their peers. In English classes this situation is likely more pronounced. Once all votes had been successfully registered, I found that their choices were markedly different to the UK electorate’s.

In every class the Greens were the winners, usually by a landslide, with the students telling me (with varying degrees of fluency) that they liked the ten- pound per hour living wage paid for by taxing large firms. They also thought the environment should play a big role in government decision-making. I had somewhat expected this amongst the eighteen-year-old university students but was more surprised to find the older, more sophisticated professors and government workers agreeing with them. The three parties that alternated in coming a distant second in different classes were Labour, the Liberal Democrats and UKIP. Among them, policies the students liked were Labour’s eight-pound per hour minimum wage (which some saw as more realistic than a living wage), the Liberal Democrats’ pro-European stance and UKIP’s plan to lower income tax but raise corporation tax.

The party who resonated least with the students were the Conservatives, although those who voted for them liked their plan to increase apprenticeships and help start-up businesses. Entirely of their own accord they seemed to have come to the same conclusion as many in Britain: that they are the ‘nasty party’. This was odd considering that I did let slip that UKIP aren’t too enamoured with foreigners. And it was even odder given that the source of my election primer (the simplest one I could find) was www.bridalbuyer.com, not exactly a hotbed for anti-Conservatism judging by their advertisers, articles and the omission of the SNP from their primer.

Once votes had been registered we then got to the fun part: the real result. Many of the students knew that the Conservatives had won, but they didn’t realise how that result had come about and what it meant. So on the board I showed them the percentage of votes that each of the main parties had gained in the UK election. They were mightily surprised to see that the Greens had fared so badly. However they were more surprised when I showed them the parliamentary seats each party had won.

Once they saw that the Conservatives had translated 36.9% of the popular vote into 331 seats, yet Labour’s 30.4% equated to only 232 seats, the more observant students saw that something didn’t quite add up. For the rest it was left to the apparently third-placed party to really let the absurdity of the British voting system sink in, as 12.6% of the vote had translated into only one parliamentary seat: a good thing for them, I assured them, but not for the idea of democracy. That the ‘fourth-placed’ party had gained eight times that number of seats turned many shocked expressions into bemused ones. And that the Greens had won just one seat, seemed to sadden many. I further deflated them by letting them know that the voter turnout of 66% meant that only about 25% of the voting-age UK population had voted for the ‘nasty party’, but that they now enjoy a clear parliamentary majority. And so the unwitting lesson in British democracy ended on a sour note and, I’m sure, most of the students went back to the Chinese world about them filled not with the hope of one day achieving democracy, but rather with the determination of staving it off.

Ben Keegan is an English teacher in China. Born in Ireland, Keegan is writing a book on the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

_________________
Image

"We are moving into an era where authority cannot be the Truth.

Only the Truth shall be the Authority in coming times, as the sanctity of all authorities will be questioned."
- Sadhguru


Top
   
 Post subject: Re: UK Election 2015
PostPosted: Mon Aug 03, 2015 11:18 am 
Offline
Holyman
Holyman
User avatar

Joined: Sat Jun 04, 2005 1:00 pm
Posts: 17585
Location: Earth
AUGUST 3, 2015

What’s Happening in Britain: Jeremy Corbyn and the Future of the Labour Party

by SUHAYB AHMED


Picture 15th June 2015. At 12 noon the deadline would expire for new entries to the leadership race for the British Labour Party, a leadership race paramount to the future of the party given it’s humiliating election defeat to the more right-wing Conservative Party just weeks before. That defeat prompted the resignation of leader Ed Miliband, a leader often portrayed by the British media as some sort of radical left-wing renegade, in a rather ironic twist of fate considering the fact that the vast majority of his policies followed the establishment line, bar a few very watered down policies leaning towards a more socialist mandate such as a price freeze on the largely out of control and poorly regulated public utilities giants who had held the British public to ransom for years on end.

Following the crushing defeat, senior members within the party vociferously turned on these supposedly left-wing, ‘anti-business’ policies of Miliband and demanded a return to ‘Blairism’, the centre-right ideology of Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair, which had greatly contributed to the Financial Crisis of 2008 and which led to the spilling of blood of more than half a million Iraqi men, women and children, not to mention the thousands of coalition soldiers whose lives were lost in the process.

Up until now, this leadership race had comprised of candidates essentially mirroring this desire for a return to the “center ground” and to a more Blairist popular mandate; all three candidates had vehemently supported austerity, all three had previously served as loyal worker-bees of Tony Blair, and pretty much all three had discarded Jeremy Corbyn, the fourth Labour candidate who had not yet secured a place on the ballot paper due to an insufficient number of nominations by fellow members of parliament, as a joke. In fact, even the bookmakers had placed Corbyn winning the leadership election at odds of 100/1.

However, with 15 minutes to go until the noon deadline, Corbyn found himself just enough nominations, albeit from MPs who did not actually support his policies but instead were urged to nominate him to broaden the debate on the party’s future. He had made it. Now, those MPs who nominated Corbyn to simply broaden debate have since been described as ‘morons’ by John McTernan, Tony Blair’s former advisor, and more than half of the MPs who originally ‘gave’ Corbyn their nomination have now ended up deserting him; this joke candidate, a 66 year old veteran Labour MP and ardent socialist, is now the bookmakers’ favourite to win.

In a post-Thatcher and post-Reagan society, deterring away from the neoliberal line has been seen as political suicide; those who actively rebuke it are butchered by the mass media, such as the former British MP George Galloway, and this is so widespread and visible a phenomenon that any aspiring politician wanting to go far in politics, or in other words, any ‘career politician’, knows not to push certain boundaries or press certain buttons.

But perhaps that’s the reason for Corbyn’s success in Britain, and – to a lesser extent – the success of Bernie Sanders in the US – he is well past what many would assume to be his ‘political prime’; in other words, perhaps his age gives him a sense of security; even if he sticks to his principles and the media absolutely eviscerates him, he has absolutely nothing to lose; Corbyn has never been a member in Cabinet and has always confined himself to the backbenches in British politics. If this all goes hopelessly wrong, he can simply return back to those backbenches with the knowledge that he tried his best, or even just leave completely and retire on a very comfortable MP’s pension.

The truth is, irrespective of whether or not the Blairites want to admit it, Corbyn’s campaign is gaining momentum – and fast. He has now been backed by the three biggest trade unions in the UK – organizations previously deemed irrelevant under the Thatcher years and – by logical extension – the Blairite years, and is now looking very likely to win the leadership contest to Britain’s second largest party outright. His vocal opposition to austerity and his adamant demands for wealth and gender equality have resonated with the great majority of ordinary, British people, and his socialist demands of re-nationalising utility and railway companies have struck a chord with the great majority of British people from all social classes alike; high energy prices and poor transport services are issues we all face.

However, watching Corbyn speak, it becomes very clear that he has no exceptional charisma or oratory skills; he often mumbles and his choice of vocabulary is by no means eloquent. But perhaps there’s a point here: perhaps there’s nothing inherently special in Jeremy Corbyn to warrant this huge surge in popularity; perhaps all Jeremy Corbyn is doing is exploiting a deeply ingrained belief we all have hidden away: perhaps we are all socialists at heart. The successes of Syriza in Greece, Podemos in Spain and now Corbyn in Britain could point to something meaningful: perhaps a revolution is in the works; perhaps what was previously as the political mainstream is shifting, and perhaps we are getting one step closer to more equal societies.

Admittedly, Corbyn may not win. In fact, it is very possible he won’t win, especially with a voting system which factors in second preference votes. However, what we’ve seen with the huge surge in support for the Corbyn campaign suggests that, despite the media’s best efforts to paint anything outside the political mainstream as ludicrous or insane, there is a real hunger for socialism among ordinary British people, and, whether Corbyn wins or not, that hunger will certainly not go away.

Suhayb Ahmed lives in London. He can be reached at suhayb.ahmed@outlook.com.

_________________
Image

"We are moving into an era where authority cannot be the Truth.

Only the Truth shall be the Authority in coming times, as the sanctity of all authorities will be questioned."
- Sadhguru


Top
   
 Post subject: Re: UK Election 2015
PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2015 10:40 am 
Offline
Holyman
Holyman
User avatar

Joined: Sat Jun 04, 2005 1:00 pm
Posts: 17585
Location: Earth
AUGUST 6, 2015

Jeremy Corbyn’s Moment: Can He Salvage the Labour Party?

by JOHN WIGHT


For far too long we have been accustomed in the West to a political culture shorn of compassion, decency, and solidarity. We’re all familiar with the script: a leader, or prospective leader, is someone who isn’t afraid to ‘make the tough choices’, ‘tell us how it is’, ‘be unpopular’, ‘take the hard rather than the easy decisions’, etc.

We are also by now well acquainted with the real message being delivered in these over-used and cliched soundbites – namely that if elected I will govern in the interests of a tiny economic minority at the expense of the majority and pledge to demonise, attack, hound, and hurt the poor and most vulnerable among us more than my competitors at every opportunity in order to do so.

It is a narrative, a discourse, tantamount to the equating of political power with callous indifference to human suffering, transforming cynicism and cruelty from vice into virtue, while pretending that there is no alternative. In the same inverted morality words such as compassion and decency are equated with weakness and idealism, the last qualities we should expect in a politician who is serious about governing the country or occupying any position of influence within the political mainstream.

Jeremy Corbyn, with his campaign for the leader of the Labour Party in the UK, has rapidly become the antidote to this lie: this Daily Mail/Tory/New Labour/City of London/benefit sanctioning/foodbank proliferating/migrant bashing/minority ‘othering’ conception of what a successful and rational society should look like.

Not that Corbyn is Ghandi in a beige jacket – far from it. In fact what he represents connotes real strength and grit, the sort needed to be able to swim against the prevailing tide to mount a serious challenge to the Thatcherite, neoliberal juggernaut that has decimated the lives and communities of far too many.

Over the past month this man has come to symbolise everything we’ve been missing in our politics, a candidate for leadership who is as unassuming as he is humble, who lacks vanity, ego, and who refuses to be anything other than himself. This, as much as the message he is delivering to packed audiences up and down the country, is why he has shone so brightly and why despite the welter of column inches to the contrary, they fear him.

At a time when we have a government that sends sniffer dogs and policemen to Calais rather than doctors and nurses to deal with desperate human beings fleeing war, persecution, and unimaginable privation in countries we have helped to destabilise and destroy, we need an alternative.

At a time when we have people living in disgusting ostentation while all around us homelessness, destitution, and poverty is growing exponentially, we need an alternative.

And in a country that places a priority on spending billions on replacing weapons of mass destruction in the form of Trident rather than spending it on building affordable homes, investing in the NHS, schools, and on making sure that everyone who works receives a wage commensurate with a decent quality of life, we obviously and desperately need change.

Those, particularly within the Labour Party, who’ve issued warnings over the dangers of ‘lurching to the left’ behind Corbyn are standing on the shoulders of the siren voices who warned Clement Attlee and the men and women who helped transform British society after the Second World War that the creation of a national health service was a utopian pipe dream – unaffordable, unworkable, and delusional.

They are standing in the tradition of those who warned that the goal of full employment as the key objective of economic and social policy was contrary free market doctrine and guaranteed to end in disaster.

Indeed, whether they know it or now, they are the modern incarnation of those who preferred a society divided between the deserving rich and undeserving poor, fueled by the belief that individual wealth is evidence of moral virtue while poverty is due to moral degeneracy, the former rightfully rewarded and the latter justly punished.

We’ve had enough of these Cassandras in our political culture, just as we’ve had enough of being told that the summit of human happiness and fulfillment is a massive salary and the ability to buy anything we want whenever we want it. We’ve had enough of happiness being confused with excitement, of being assured that competition is more compatible with our nature than cooperation, and that the poor man who steals a loaf of bread from a supermarket belongs in jail, while the rich man who closes a supermarket because it is no longer profitable, thereby consigning hundreds of people to poverty, belongs in the House of Lords.

What they don’t get is that Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign is not driven by what ‘can’ be done but by what ‘must’ be done, by the necessity of reintroducing sanity and humanity into a political culture that has become captive to the needs of the rich and big business.

It is this cult of business that has so distorted and perverted our understanding of what constitutes a viable and sustainable economy.

To put it another way, no business or businessman or woman has ever created a job in this country. Not one. It is not businesses that create jobs it is consumers who create jobs, by spending money to create the demand for goods and services to which businesses respond by expanding their existing business or in the form of new businesses being created and with them employment.

And when it comes to this creation of demand, it is an empirical fact that people on lower incomes will spend more of any extra money they receive than people on higher incomes, as their needs are correspondingly greater.

So rather than focusing on cutting benefits and incomes, we should be talking about raising benefits and incomes. And rather than listening to those who tell us that businesses can’t afford to pay their employees a living wage, we should be telling them that any business than cannot afford to pay a living wage is not a viable business and has no business being in business in the first place. We need, in other words, to reassert the primacy of the state and government over the economic forces that are in truth the real government under the status quo, a government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich.

The ideas and vision that Jeremy Corbyn represents, for so long buried beneath a ton weight of Thatcherite ideology, have risen from their slumber and are now part of the mainstream political discourse again, breathed new life by thousands of young people who demand a real and humane alternative to the thin gruel that passes for reality today.

It is why when they those same siren voices continually shriek that Jeremy cannot possibly win, what they don’t realise is that he already has.

John Wight is the author of a politically incorrect and irreverent Hollywood memoir – Dreams That Die – published by Zero Books. He’s also written five novels, which are available as Kindle eBooks. You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnWight1

_________________
Image

"We are moving into an era where authority cannot be the Truth.

Only the Truth shall be the Authority in coming times, as the sanctity of all authorities will be questioned."
- Sadhguru


Top
   
 Post subject: Re: UK Election 2015
PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2015 12:52 pm 
Offline
Holyman
Holyman
User avatar

Joined: Sat Jun 04, 2005 1:00 pm
Posts: 17585
Location: Earth
AUGUST 19, 2015

The Return of British Social Democracy? Jeremy Corbyn and the Revolt of the Excluded

by GRAHAM MACPHEE


There is a profound shift going on in British politics that mirrors the wider collapse of legitimacy suffered by political elites in the West. But whereas Occupy fizzled out without an organizational structure and the political revolt in Greece has been ruthlessly suppressed by the EU, the economic size of Britain and the strength of its social democratic tradition means this insurgency may have greater potential.

The occasion of this latest democratic revolt is the election for next leader of the Labour Party, the traditionally social democratic party that after 1997 lurched towards full-blown neoliberalism. As ground zero for neoliberalism’s social democratic putsch, “New Labour” led the way for former social democratic parties across Europe with its polished PR, scripted sound bites, and a breathtaking political cynicism that would justify wars of aggression abroad and corporate handouts at home in the language of “responsibility,” “humanity,” and “fairness.” It is to everyone’s surprise, then, that the frontrunner in the current leadership race is Jeremy Corbyn, a softly spoken, socialist, and antiwar backbench MP who is known for his political integrity and personal decency. Not only does Corbyn reject the trappings of office by traveling on mass transit and making his own sandwiches, but it’s said he prepares a couple extra in case any of his companions are without lunch.

Initially patronized and dismissed by party bigwigs and media opinion formers, Corbyn’s leadership campaign has sparked a national movement that is in a number of ways reminiscent of Occupy. The rise of Corbyn’s campaign has been both unexpected and meteoric because it draws support from those excluded from the political calculus of the elites. Some of that support hails from traditional constituencies that have been taken for granted by “New Labour”: trade unionists and public sector workers, those opposed to war and neo-imperialism, and those concerned with the moral decay of British society and the neoliberal evacuation of any social and collective ethos beyond xenophobia and the new culturalist racism. But Corbyn’s campaign also speaks to young people excluded from housing and job opportunities, students saddled with unsupportable debt, and the “precariat” more widely: those working on short-term or zero-hour contracts often in the newly privatized social services, the former local government sector, or in low paid and insecure jobs in the service industries.

Image

Corbyn’s policies have been relentlessly attacked by mainstream politicians and media pundits, not only from the right but even more vociferously from the self-proclaimed “center left.” Time and again the charge is that Corbyn’s ideas are dangerously extreme and unworkable, out of kilter with public opinion, and hopelessly behind the times. However, it looks like the scare tactics that were employed to such effect only recently in the Scottish independence referendum may not work this time.

In fact, far from being “extreme” or unworkable, Corbyn’s policy proposals are moderate, commonsense measures that would mitigate some of the economic damage done since the 2008 crash, rebalance social provision away from corporate welfare, and restore an element of security for many of those marginalized by a neoliberal project that has been running at full throttle since the rise of Thatcherism in 1979. Corbyn’s economic program is comparable to Obama’s 2009 stimulus package, while his commitment to raise taxes on corporations and high-income earners is basic math for anyone really interested in reducing budget deficits rather than just “starving the beast.” His proposals for rent controls (once standard in England and Wales, and still in force to some degree in Scotland) have a huge resonance in the UK, where a super-inflated property market makes livable rent a necessary complement for a living wage. Renationalization of the railways would end the disastrous financial drain and byzantine bureaucracy of rail privatization, while investment in public education and free university tuition would bring enormous social benefits, not least economically.

Nor are Corbyn’s policies unpopular or out of step with public opinion. Indeed, his anti-austerity message reflects majority social attitudes: 71% of voters see economic inequality as a major social ill, 62% prioritize social justice, and 85% believe corporate greed is a significant problem. A recent poll by Survation found that Corbyn is not only the choice of Labour activists but is popular with the general public.

Why then the panic on the “center left”? What accounts for the hysterical attacks, name-calling, vilification, and smear tactics that have been unleashed against Corbyn and those likely to vote for him?

There are two answers to this question which taken together also give a broader insight into the value and meaning of social democracy within the contemporary moment.

The first answer relates to the very popularity of Corbyn’s platform: like the extraordinary popular mobilization for Scottish independence last year (which in certain ways stands behind current events), Corbyn’s leadership bid appeals to the wrong kind of voters. That is, it appeals to those who have already been excluded from the political calculus of the elites, which in the UK is rigidly focused on what’s called “middle England,” a notional population of “centrist” floating voters who are securely employed, can comfortably pay the mortgage, and who are said to dislike foreigners and the “work shy.”

The irony of the so-called “big tent” politics of New Labour is that in reality it works by drastically reducing the population addressed by party politics since its concentration on the “center ground” disenfranchises whole social strata, and indeed entire national populations (its holy grail is “middle England” after all, not middle Scotland or middle Wales). Labour’s abandonment of social democracy means that a series of nearly identical political parties—all closely aligned with the corporate agenda—are offered to the electorate, and those who can’t find their vision or concerns reflected there are simply excluded. Or in the case of Labour Party supporters, told to keep voting for policies that actively privilege corporate profit over human development, debilitate working class communities, increase social inequality, undermine civil liberties and human rights, and weaken the democratic process.

The second answer relates to the practicality of Corbyn’s proposals. The neoliberal project weathered the massive global recession it created in 2008 because it has managed to convince not only elites but large sections of the population in the US and Europe that there is no alternative, a dictum promulgated so successively in Britain by Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair. Corbyn’s modest proposals to boost economic activity and raise living standards by curbing austerity are deeply practical and pragmatic: it is austerity itself that has prolonged the recession, providing a cover for the dismantling of social provision and the rerouting of taxpayer funding to subsidize corporate profits.

Just as in Greece, the prospect of a return to a workable and broadly beneficial social democratic program is not simply a local issue but has global implications. Which is why Greece has been so brutally punished for Syriza’s temerity in suggesting that democratic politics might have a role in the economy. And it is why British political elites—inside the Labour Party as well as outside it—and the corporate media to which they are aligned will not stop fighting Jeremy Corbyn or the popular social democratic politics he represents.

This hostility to popular participation and political plurality tells us something very important about the social democracy that developed in Europe in the postwar period. European social democracy was by no means perfect: it was built on the privileged position in the global economy bequeathed by empire, and was conceived geopolitically as a Cold War strategy to inoculate Western Europe from calls for more radical social and political change in the wake of the devastation of World War II. But as it’s now possible to see, it allowed for a level of autonomous politics and democratic participation that far exceeds the pseudo-democratic rhetoric of the current neoliberal world order.

While Max Weber famously characterized the modern state as holding a monopoly of lethal violence within society, what’s often forgotten is that there is no such monopoly of social coercion in the nonlethal, more diffuse sense.1 For example, employers can pressurize their workforce by worsening conditions, reducing wages, or by withdrawing employment altogether; or they can exert broader political influence by relocating their operations or withholding investment—or indeed, simply by threatening to do so. Popular groups—whether trade unions or other political associations—have developed alternative modes of coercion, such as strikes, pickets, boycotts, secondary industrial action, etc., to counter such extra-political social power. The political impact of social democracy’s economic compromise was a rebalancing of the ratio of social coercion between corporations and populations, a renegotiation that accorded a historically unprecedented legitimacy to popular modes.

This rebalancing of legitimate social coercion enabled the revitalization of public spaces and social institutions by shielding them from direct subordination to corporate power—universities and adult education programs, public broadcast media, and cultural institutions at the macro level, but just as importantly more informal and micro-level networks, such as tenants’ associations, community organizations, and campaign groups. The economic architecture of social democracy was thus able to scaffold a political space that could sustain popular democratic participation relatively free from corporate social coercion. The political sphere engendered by social democracy therefore had a potential that reached beyond its economic limits; but this insight has been obscured by the reductive opposition of “reform or revolution” long common on the left, and more recently by undifferentiated accounts of “governmentality” and blanket ascriptions of the ubiquity of power so widely favored by contemporary intellectuals.

Faced with the insurgency of the excluded, the Labour party hierarchy may well intervene, either by suspending the election altogether or by disallowing sufficient pro-Corbyn votes to hand the leadership to one of the other candidates. But however Jeremy Corbyn’s bid for the Labour leadership turns out, the popular optimism and elite hostility it has engendered points to the political potential of social democracy and thereby also the stakes involved.

Corporate media and establishment politicians are playing a reckless and dangerous game in seeking to suppress political plurality and set in stone parameters of exclusion that deny popular democratic participation. For if the excluded are not granted political participation through social democracy, they will turn to other political forms and movements to overcome their exclusion. In England, the beneficiaries will be the xenophobic and pro-corporate UK Independence Party (UKIP) and other ultra-nationalist currents; while in Greece it will be the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn.

Note.

1. Strictly speaking such coercion is by no means “nonlethal”; it is rather that its lethal impacts tend to take effect over longer periods and through diffuse and indirect mechanisms, such as poverty, lack of resources, diminished opportunities, and social disintegration. This terminological difficulty points to major problems in the modern political lexicon of violence.

Graham MacPhee is Professor of English at West Chester University and the author most recently of Postwar British Literature and Postcolonial Studies.

_________________
Image

"We are moving into an era where authority cannot be the Truth.

Only the Truth shall be the Authority in coming times, as the sanctity of all authorities will be questioned."
- Sadhguru


Top
   
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic  Reply to topic  [ 163 posts ]  Go to page Previous 13 4 5 6 7

All times are UTC+01:00


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: barcelona, PBFMullethunter and 8 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Limited