Saturday, 12 November 2016
Who would have guessed that when the Twin Towers collapsed on September 11th 2001 that we were actually witnessing the complete and utter defeat of the Western world and that militant Islam had already won? How could this have happened despite all of our military hardware, all the bombing and invasions and after all the years we had spent patting ourselves on the back for defeating Communism? How could such a resounding victory have been so easily achieved? The answer is quite simple. Our enemies simply knew what buttons to push because they understood how fragile our democratic institutions and how threadbare our high-sounding democratic principles actually were. They knew that despite our overweening pride in ourselves our feet were made of clay. All it took was a few years of low-level terrorist attacks, a gentle push and we toppled over. Who would have believed just a few years ago that a British government would be able to punish the poor, the disabled and the homeless simply for being poor, disabled and homeless? Who would have believed that in a country seemingly dedicated to family values that a billionaire tax-avoiding misogynistic serial philanderer and well-known bully could possibly be elected into the White House? Al-Qaeda and its latest offshoot ISIS obviously did and they have roundly and completely defeated us simply by standing by and watching us tear each other to pieces. Looking back over the last 30 years it's easy to see how we connived in our own demise. We allowed our politicians to wreck our economy with neoliberal mumbo-jumbo and create a unequal society ripe for revolution. We allowed those same politicians to blame the innocent victims of this inequality and punish them simply for existing. We stifled debate by making some subjects such as immigration unmentionable and effectively outlawed free speech. We allowed our media to fall into the hands of right-wing crazies who hate everyone except themselves. We allowed our enemies to separate us from our real friends simply because they too were foreigners. What was once our democracy, the democracy of Roosevelt's New Deal and Atlee's Welfare State, has now been so completely subverted that people actually believe that buffoons like Donald Trump and Boris Johnson are our only hope. Once we reached that stage we really were lost.
Friday, 11 November 2016
How did this happen? How did this utter idiot become President of the most powerful planet on Earth? It wasn't because he's the most popular man in the USA since he failed to gain a majority in the popular vote. The Presidency was delivered to him by the arcane electoral college system which has, once again, handed victory to the loser. Trump did, however, poll just under 50% and the question arises as to why so many people would vote for a bombastic egocentric racist bully after the eight years of a Barak Obama Presidency. How could the USA go from the grace and decency of Barak Obama to the utter ignorance and prejudice of a man like Donald Trump? Frustration would seem to the the answer. Frustration that Obama could not deliver the change that he promised. Yet that frustration was caused by the obstructionism and cynicism of the Republican dominated Republican Houses of Congress - the very party that has now been propelled into the White House. Some say that Trump isn't a real Republican and that they never really accepted him as their leader in this Presidential campaign. There is some truth in that but, nevertheless, Trump voices many of the brain-dead nonsense that the Republican party is often reluctant to say openly and in public. He dared to say the things that they were thinking and won. Trump is nothing more than a demagogue, voicing the prejudices of Americans and promising whatever simplistic solutions were needed to gain the White House. Trump has promised to break international agreements, ignore the threats to the environment and to commit criminal acts to assuage the fears of the largely ignorant and bible-thumping electorate that put him into the Oval Office. This is the triumph of ignorance over reason, of prejudice over reality, of irrationality over rationality and it might just mark the end of western democracy as we have understood it.
Sunday, 28 August 2016
Two months on and how is Brexit fairing? Well, the Tory party is still tearing itself apart over Europe, torn now between those who know that Brexit is a bloody stupid idea and those who are too stupid to know its a stupid idea. The grandees of the Tory party are circling around Article 50 like sharks trying to make up their minds if it will bite back - not one willing to start the process when their careers are at stake. The lies about all the foreigners leaving the country overnight and the £350 million per week for the NHS are now exposed for what they were while the "sunny uplands"of "independence" from Europe no longer look so sunny and the uplands look more like dark and deep chasms of economic doom. Theresa May has handed over Britain's economic future to Liam Fox and Boris Johnson with instructions for them to go abroad and put their money where their mouths are. Characteristically Fox and Johnson immediately started a turf war, more concerned about themselves than the country they profess to love. Meanwhile, in political terms, the whole thing is turning out to be a bit of an embarrassment. Britain's membership of the EU represents a huge amount of law that must now be unpicked and repealed in the only institution where such unpicking and repealing can be done - Parliament. Unfortunately most MP's are not too keen on the hard work needed for such a task, while most of them were against the idea in the first place. How many Parliamentary votes does it take for Britain to leave the EU? None, if you're a Brexiteer, because the Parliamentary democratic process will almost certainly fail to deliver the desired result. None, if you want to "Remain", because no MP in their right mind wants to wreck the economy and make stuffing their offshore bank accounts with taxpayers money even more difficult than it already is. Democracy, the thing that delivered Brexit in the first place, is becoming increasingly difficult for those in power, who never liked it much in any case, to handle, while their utter incompetence and unsuitability for the job is now glaringly obvious. Brexit is not a case of the blind leading the blind, but of the stupid leading the stupid.
Tuesday, 12 July 2016
The Parliamentary Labour Party is in turmoil tonight after the National Executive ruled that Jeremy Corbyn will be allowed to stand once again for the leadership of the party. We asked a Tory Lite Labour MP for his reaction to tonight's news. "This is disastrous," he told our reporter. "We've worked so hard to stamp out democracy since the blessed Margaret Thatcher became the spiritual head of the Labour party in 1979 and now it's broken out all over again. When will voters in this country understand that we - the establishment - knows what's best for them and that democracy has no place in our brave new world? If voting continues to make a difference like this we'll have no choice but to abolish it." Puzzled by this reaction our reporter asked about the Brexit vote. "We have to bow to the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the people who voted for it. It's refreshing when the public vote for something that we in the establishment have longed for. Now we can ignore Johnny Foreigner, make up the rules for ourselves and vote ourselves the tax cuts and the unlimited expense accounts that we deserve." We asked if the Labour party would now split. "Split? What are you talking about, split? I have been and always will be a proud member of the very slightly left-wing of the Tory party. Why would we split when our leader, Theresa May, will win the next election? That's the trouble with you people, you actually think that British democracy should have some choice in it. Politics is not about choice, its about maintaining the status quo or, failing that, managing change so that people like me come out on top."
Saturday, 9 July 2016
Britain is about to get an unelected Prime Minister - again. The myth of Britain's parliamentary democracy is that we elect our MP's individually as the representative of a majority of the electorate in a constituency and that it is the choice of that representative as to which party they belong. If enough MP's form themselves into a party with a majority in the House of Commons then it is that party that forms the government and chooses a leader who is primus inter pares (first among equals). Of course none of this is true. MP's are selected to stand for election by already existing political parties and, in effect, the electorate vote for a party. The leaders of the parties are already known and are only primus inter pares until someone decides that they rather fancy the title of Prime Minister themselves. In fact Britain is an elective dictatorship in which a Prime Minister can pretty well do anything they like as long as the party will go along with it. And if the party is a little lukewarm then they can be "whipped" into agreement. So we now have the strange situation in which a small number of Tory party members can choose who the next dictator of Britain will be from a list of two presented to them by the Parliamentary party. The Labour party was pretty well run along the same lines until Ed Milliband decided that it needed a bit more democracy and that the leader in Parliament such be chosen from a list unlimited in number by all party members. The Parliamentary Labour Party now has a leader it doesn't want and believes is unelectable but has the support of the rest of the party. Milliband's attempt to inject more democracy into the Labour party came about because he saw that Parliament was a cosy club in which a political elite were far more interested in themselves than they were in the rest of the country. The revolt of the Parliamentary Labour party against Jeremy Corbyn would seem to indicate that he was probably right since they are obviously putting their own interests before the interests of their party and the country at large. The problem with democracy is that it often delivers answers that political elites don't like - which is why professional politicians don't like it much. This problem is exacerbated when the electorate are largely ignorant of the issues involved in pretty much any question they are asked and are largely unqualified to make any kind of sensible judgement. Which is why democracy is the worst kind of government except for all the rest. Essentially Parliamentary democracy in Britain is based more on myth than reality, has become increasingly unconnected with the rest of the country and is probably too unwieldy for the 21st century.
Monday, 4 July 2016
All of the contenders in the race for the leadership of the Tory party have now made it plain that, as far as Brexit is concerned, there is no going back. There is no further argument to be heard amongst them even if, as seems likely, much of the electorate who voted leave have now changed their minds. The reason is because, leavers or remainers, the Tories have realised they have an historic opportunity within their grasp. Suddenly the Tories finally have a plan for Brexit and, if you have any sense at all, you won't like it. Using what has been dubbed "Disaster Capitalism" they intend to use the confusion and chaos caused by Brexit to completely reconfigure Britain. When we say "reconfigure" we mean that the Tories intend to steal everything that isn't nailed down, especially the NHS which will be privatised as soon as possible. The NHS represents billions of pounds of taxpayers money invested in expertise and fixed assets all of which will now be handed over to private companies at bargain basement prices. The Tories will use the money thus raised to award themselves and their rich mates new tax cuts while the sick and disabled will be bled white to provide the necessary profits. This will be accompanied by a scrapping of the Convention on Human Rights and a new set of "rights" written for us by the Tories. You will have the right to a minimum wage, but no more than that. You will have the "right" to have a zero-hour contract of employment. You will have the "right" to pay exhorbitant rents for a moldering ruins unfit for human habitation. You will have the "right" to touch the forelock as the hunt rides by. The Tories have always considered the British population to be lower than vermin and they now intend to make that consideration an actuality. We have placed ourselves into the hands of a bunch of psychopaths and they fully intend to indulge their most gruesome fantasies.
Thursday, 30 June 2016
Like David Cameron before him Boris Johnson has now ducked responsibility for the disaster that Brexit represents. Like all Tories when the going gets tough they bug off to protect their own reputations. But let's get this straight from the very beginning, it was David Cameron, the worse bungler this country has ever known, who started this idiocy. He did so to shut up his back benchers and cabinet colleagues in his own party and assure his position as leader of the Tories. He has succeeded in doing neither. At the same time he has threatened the very existence of the United Kingdom and of its economic well-being. Now, in true Tory style, Boris Johnson has ducked his responsibility in all this. Having thrown his weight into the Brexit campaign with his eye on the top job he has failed to secure that for himself. Two men, once friends, now united again in abject failure. Neither of them, despite their assurances, have the stomach for invoking Article 50 or for what will come afterwards. They have failed the country which has been sacrificed on the altar of their egos and ambition and don't have the courage to pick up the pieces. Now it will be left to either Theresa May, who doesn't believe in Brexit and voted to remain or Michael Gove who thinks that the problems of education in Britain can be solved by privatisation and sending each school a copy of the King James Bible (printed in Germany). The blame for what follows will sit squarely with the Tories though, without doubt, the Murdoch press is already cooking up stories to place the blame for this mess at Jeremy Corbyn's door.
Wednesday, 29 June 2016
Nearly a week after the triumphant Brexit campaign many Leave voters have been voicing their disappointment. "I just understand why it's not 1959 again," one voter told our reporter. "Why have all these black, brown and eastern European people not left already?" Another asked, "Where is Margaret Thatcher or, better still, Winston Churchill? Once they return from the grave we'll show these Johnny Foreigners what's for. Have they been deliberately hidden away from us by Parliamentary Remain campaigners? Without them how will we ever mount another D-Day invasion of the Continent to save the miserable people of Europe from themselves?" Meanwhile desperate Remain voters have been tossing bottles into the Channel (now definitely the English Channel once more) begging for help. The messages seem to be more or less the same; "Help! I am trapped on a cold rainy and windswept island in the North Atlantic where 52% of the population are clinically insane and government is non-existent." Still, the latest round of news should cheer them up as George Osborne, the only Tory politician still working it seems, plans to raise taxes (for working people, not the hard-pressed rich) and announces that the NHS is no longer affordable and spending on it must be cut as soon as possible. In further good news for Leave voters the EU has just announced that British banks will no longer be able to trade in Europe along with all other service industries in what was once the UK. As Nigel Farage said only a couple of days ago, "You're not laughing now are you?"
Monday, 27 June 2016
Boris Johnson, following his triumph on the cricket field this weekend, finally came up with an EU exit plan today. He would saunter over to Europe when he felt like it, tell the EU what he wants and then watch as Johnny Foreigner falls to his knees and begs him to accept everything he wants. With full access to the single market Britain would have to pay nothing to the EU while the free movement of people across Europe would be a thing of the past. And, if this didn't come to pass, then Boris could saunter back to Britain with Article 50 safely put away in a box until he does get what he wants. "Give me what I want or I won't invoke Article 50 and leave you dangling." Unfortunately Boris didn't count on Johnny Foreigner, or rather Angela Merkel, being rather more clever that the average British voter. She has said "Nein". There will be no negotiations before Article 50 is invoked and, if Britain wants access to the single market, it will have to contribute money for the privilege and accept the free movement of people. In other words we will have all the "disadvantages" of EU membership without, at the same time, having any voice. Now where did we hear that before? Oh yes, that's right, it was voiced by the Remain campaign. So none of the advantages promised by the Leave Campaign but all of the disadvantages pointed out by the Remain Campaign. So where is our "strong" negotiating position now? Like most things about the Leave Campaign it now proves to have been an illusion.
So who will push the button and invoke Article 50? Not David Cameron obviously since he's resigning and has left it to the Brexiters. So it's down to Boris isn't it? Except that Boris is not keen to do so. Nor is Michael Gove who has decided to take a back seat and push Boris into the hot seat. So what's going on? Leadership of the Tory party is now toxic while the man who pushes the button will have to take responsibility for what comes next. Boris' solution is to negotiate a deal with the EU which will basically make no changes to the UK's position - a Brexit with no Brexit in it. The only ones urging that something must now happen are those who have absolutely no intention of taking responsibility for it like Nigel Farage and Liam Fox. It's easy to urge action when its not you who has to go over the top and capture no man's land. All that is clear is that the Tory party's civil war over the EU has spilled out into the country at large and they have led us into a blind ally with no exits, including exit from the EU, in sight. The UK is in imminent danger of ceasing to exist as Scotland now looks set to leave and with Northern Ireland also in danger of following suit. The economy is continuing its slide towards oblivion with more money being lost on the stock exchange in three days than the UK would give to the EU in 20 years. The Pound is also sliding remorselessly downwards against every currency in the world. Meanwhile thugs are appearing on streets throughout the country yelling at any foreigner they can find, "We won, now get out of our country". This is not simply a political crisis, it is also an economic and social crisis and the genie is well and truly out of the bottle. Whether we leave the EU or not there is no going back. Britain has now seen itself in the mirror and the reflected image is not a pretty one. Bigoted, isolated and increasingly irrelevant in world terms where do we go from here?