Demagogues as Leaders

Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn and Donald Trump are all part of the same phenomenon, the disruption of the status quo. The number of  voters who are unsatisfied with the way they are treated by the system has reached a critical mass and the result has confounded pollsters and pundits alike.

It is unfortunate that the people who have exploited this revolution have proved to be inadequate at least and in the some cases demagogues of the worst kind.

Austerity

It is perhaps not surprising given the power and reach of the Neoliberal uber-rich that in the UK, the EU and USA Austerity has become the orthodoxy.  In the UK it is taking on an extreme form in our political life.  So much so that the neoliberal Tories are regarded by many voters as a centre party. They have been bamboozled by the idea that the finances of a country are best managed like a household budget. Margaret Thatcher famously started the idea but George Osborne and Cameron are the real practitioners. Prof Steve Keen in an interview explains the absurdity of such theories. It is not surprising that his views and similar views of other serious economists are hidden under a blizzard of spin and invective by the powerful uber-rich who stand to lose if austerity is abandoned.

This has resulted in Labour becoming a right of centre party also enamoured of austerity which they dare not refute. That is the case with all their leadership nominees apart from Jeremy Corbyn. He is being taken apart by the neoliberal main stream media, not surprising in view of who owns them, and there is a desperate campaign to stop his bid for the labour Party leadership.

However, there are growing signs of at least some of the electorate realising the fact that they have been hoodwinked. Jeremy Corbyn is the popular candidate of the grassroots of the party, Greece elected a left wing party, Syriza, and there are movements in Spain and Italy.

Prof Steen mentioned the economic policy of the SNP in Scotland as going in the right direction.

The State of the Parties

I am amazed at the shambles of the Labour Party. Surely losing Scotland should have been a wake-up call. However what is happening does probably fit a wider picture. Neoliberals have taken over the lunatic asylum. The Labour Party would do well to read Richard Murphy’s book the Courageous State which can be ordered through the blog. There is an alternative to Austerity. More and more respected economists and financial institutions including the IMF have come to that conclusion.

Jeremy Corbyn could win a general election. That is why the neoliberal elite have mounted such a fierce, violent and scurrilous attack, going to the extent of calling in Tony Blair. It smacks of Gordon Brown’s intervention in the Scottish referendum. Except that up to that point Gordon did at least have some credibility. The present anti-left campaign within the parliamentary Labour Party has the same provenance as the anti SNP campaign which incidentally shows no sign of abating. It is the deadly dread that the English electorate might wake from its slumbers as happened in Scotland and actually realise that, in spite of the rhetoric about the working people, the Tories are totally focused on furthering their neoliberal objectives. And it would seem there are enough fellow travellers in the parliamentary Labour ranks especially amongst the leadership contenders to make sure that no alternative economic plan is given credence.

The upshot is a parliament which is made up of two major neoliberal parties. In some countries both parties would be regarded as right wing. This leaves the SNP’s 56 MPs as the only substantial party with opposing views. And they will be vilified at every turn.

We are in five years of neoliberal mayhem and major negative campaigns against any alternatives.

GE15 Election Myths and Misinformation

The main political parties are all in the business of frightening voters about the dire consequences in post election Britain which will result from a vote for another party.

If the Tories form the government they will continue their ideological mission to downsize the public sector and allow the private sector free reign to milk the public finances. They are the party of neo-lib policies based on the free market model of the Chicago School of Economics as highlighted by Naomi Klein in her book, The Shock Doctrine (2007). Ann Pettifor in Just Money refers to our present financial elite as “robber barons” and they are the ones manipulating the finger puppets within the Tory party. They are however really worried by the SNP and the effect they are having on the campaign, hence the several headless chicken scenarios going on.

If Labour forms a minority administration on a “confidence and supply” basis with the smaller parties one would hope for an orderly conduct of business over the next five years. Trident should be at least maintained with Conservative assistance while a budget compromise with some slackening of austerity is on the cards. The UK debt and deficit is being blown up as a scare tactic. National good housekeeping is not the same as your average family’s. Tweeter @buddy_hell explains the fallacy well. So whether we have a small continuing deficit or a small surplus at the end of the parliament is neither here not there in terms of a trillion pound total debt. Better economic management of money could well reduce the percentage deficit faster than the austerity model of deficit management.

However I fear the worst. The present Tories will stop at nothing to get back into power. They will never support a Labour government vote even to save Trident but will pursue every means fair or foul to bring down the government at the earliest opportunity. In this they will have the whole of the right wing press to help. The blatant scaremongering in the election campaign will be as nothing. If it damages the country’s credit rating so much the better; the quicker the Labour government will collapse. Why do this? Because in the immediate aftermath of the election only the Tories will have the money to fight another election and they will do anything to seize that chance.

And what of the Union? Pushed into another referendum with that sort of turmoil in Westminster, the Scots will almost certainly vote for independence. So much for all the smarm pre last year’s Independence vote about how much Scotland means to Tory hearts. Not as much as the riches of Croesus.

Who to Vote For in Election 2015

This general election 2015 is being fought by two major parties on spurious grounds because it is not in either’s interest to speak of the real issues. Superficially Labour and Conservatives seem to have only marginal differences in policy and plans.

The electorate should be focusing on an entirely different and ideological difference between them. The current Tory hierarchy are firmly in the Chicago, Milton Friedman, School of economics. They are not pursuing austerity as a means of reducing the deficit. They are intent on rolling back the state and public sector and passing as much public provision of services into private ownership as possible. Naomi Klein in her book, The Shock Doctrine (2007) documents many instances of this ideological takeover of the public sector from South America to South Africa. One characteristic is that the Chicago School often take advantage of catastrophic events to move in; hence the excuse of the2007-8 financial crash was an absolute godsend to the Tories. Against that background the austerity is immaterial. What matters is privatising the state and reducing state funding of benefits and handouts. The squeeze on benefits by the present Department of Work and Pensions ministers will not be relaxed by them if they are still in power after the election even if there is an economic upturn. We are also largely ignorant of the true nature of TTIP and the dispute resolution mechanism. The present Conservative administration would never obstruct any piece of this Treaty that impeded the easy takeover of UK services by American and other foreign global corporations. The ultimate prize is the NHS in England, Wales and Scotland. Privatisation is of course well under way in England and Wales.

What does surprise me is that the Civil Service appear to be aiding and abetting this process as if they do not realise that their own jobs are already on the privatising list. It may be a bit farfetched but our armed forces could readily fit a privatised model much as private security companies came to dominate Iraq. The new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elisabeth could become HMS Serco Queen Elisabeth.

So a vote for Conservatives in May is a vote to hand Britain into the laps of the global corporations.

What of Labour? Well they should be socialist, even if only with a lower case s but their record when last in government was almost anything but. It was much more a continuation of the Thatcher years than the John Major interregnum. Both Blair and Brown played to the corporate gallery more than the working class stalls. Ed Balls has promised if he becomes Chancellor of the Exchequer to honour the recent Osbourne budget. What a contrast with the new Greek government who would sweep austerity away. It should be remembered that some of the elements of Tory austerity such as a clamp down on benefits, the laissez faire attitude to the financial sector, privatisation of some NHS services and the encouragement of the private sector generally were all started under Gordon Brown’s Chancellorship and of course Ed Balls was then his right-hand man. It could be that Ed Milliband is really much more of a socialist than New Labour but so far there is not much evidence of this. At best a vote for Labour might be a vote for Tory Lite.

So for Scots to vote for either main party might land them with a government which goes against the grain of Scottish ideas of a fair and caring society. While many voters might not agree with SNP aspirations and ambitions, they could be the only party to take cognisance of Scottish concerns and interests when voting in the Westminster parliament. So the bigger the bloc of SNP MPs the better will the Scottish perspective be kept on the agenda. For many English voters unaware of the true nature of the main parties a moderate left party with the people of Scotland as their main focus might also rescue English politics from the current Neoliberalism.

That the SNP tail might wag the English dog is of course pure scaremongering. Both Labour and the Conservatives saw how effective this tactic was in securing a No vote in the September referendum and so are using the same weapon again. The Liberal Democrats had but a marginal effect on the Tory juggernaut during the Coalition years. If Alex Salmond were the leader of an SNP bloc he would be more effective than Nick Clegg but he would wise to bend with the wind in many negotiations. At best he would be able to modify any extreme policies to protect Scottish interests. Jim Murphy on Politics Now (BBC 22nd March) told Andrew Neil that the SNP might oppose their policies eliminating zero hours contracts, an increase in the minimum wage etc. That was a ludicrous desperate suggestion. And don’t for one minute think that either main party would not get into bed with a big enough SNP bloc. In spite of what the leaders may now say they will understand that real politik will create strange bedfellows. They have to at least be seen to make a genuine attempt to run a 5 year parliament. The party that calls a very early election by rescinding the Five Year legislation will be slaughtered at the polls That piece of bravado might yet come back to bite David Cameron.

With the possibility of a hung parliament and looking at the present manifestoes of the main parties it is very much in Scottish interests to vote for SNP. There is a likelihood of this leading to Independence but, if Westminster politics does not change, that may happen with or without SNP help. There is much more of an appetite for Independence in Scotland than just within the SNP ranks. The Unionist parties did more to hasten that during the referendum campaign than anything the SNP did. Their actions brought home to many people quite how perfidious the political spin and in some cases downright lies and scaremongering has become. Many politicians seem to have no morals when it comes to saving their own skins.

English Votes for English Laws

Amazing, the Tories have done it again – produced a poisoned chalice. William Hague on the Radio 4 Today Programme announce their proposal for EV EL. The Committee stages of an English only Bill would be voted on by just English MPs but the final 3rd Reading vote would be open to all MPs.

He stressed that this would give English MPs the power of veto over English only legislation. He never mentioned that non-English MPs might have a similar veto at 3rd Reading. What great spin. But also what a waste of time if a Bill were to fall at the last hurdle. So there would be great pressure and  massive negative publicity if a Bill were to be voted down. Hence the poisoned chalice. What is more Hague never mentioned the House of Lords nor what would happen to a Bill which with some amendment might have passed into law.

It is quite possible after GE15 that Labour will be able to govern with the help of non-English MPs. If English MPs have a Tory majority then they could amend English legislation as it went through the committee stage so that it was unacceptable to Labour. What then? Effectively the Labour government would have no jurisdiction over English law making. What a nonsense.

Why can no politician have the guts or the vision to see that a federal solution is now the only solution as an alternative to Scottish Independence.. 

BBC Omissions

I have been prompted to write this by a Twitter person I follow, @reddeviljp or jaydeepee, http://t.co/gLmaK7s7S7. He has started a list of topics which the BBC does not, in his and many others opinion cover adequately. That led me to thinking about how badly skewed the political and social debate is in our country, not just by the BBC but by the media in general. Badly misinformed or deliberately misled, the general populace is unaware of what should really give them sleepless nights.

As I understand it, but I could also have been misled by the lack of proper information, the NHS in England and Wales is being steadily privatised. The USA and  EU are in the process of drawing up a far reaching trade deal. As the NHS will in future rely on private suppliers, it cannot be exempt from the provisions of that agreement.  This agreement will effectively remove the sovereign right of governments to protect their own economic and social environment from private companies of a foreign country party to the trade agreement. In other words the NHS will be wide open to take-over by private American health providers. As far as I am aware the BBC has been totally silent on this issue.

My contribution to jaydeepee’s list was “NHS sell off, democratic deficit, tax avoidance, bank level of toxic debt, voting records of MPs, real level of NHS funding,”.

My example above connects to NHS sell off and also Democratic Deficit. At the last election, nobody was aware that we were voting about the wholesale privatisation of not only the NHS but many other government functions. No doubt there are Tory voters who are happy with events but I doubt that many Lib Dem voters were voting to get rid of the NHS as we know it. And yet for the sake of what they call “power” their MPs are prepared to condone it. Labour are hardly any better. They should never let a day go by without a protest of some sort about this  issue if they were really fulfilling their democratic mandate.

Both our politicians and the media ignore the democratic voice of the electorate. We are rapidly descending from a democracy to an oligarchy.