Thursday, 24 March 2011

The revolution will not be for everyone

I want to move on from the puerile nature of my last post, but damn it, they make it hard. I see these Muppets all the time and all I hear is the same tired ****. I do try, but…

There they are...

The likes of the UK Uncut movement seem to think it’s reasonable to compare their protests against corporate tax avoidance and Government cuts in the UK to the current upheaval in the Arab world. In simply stating that, I have already entertained the notion more than enough and given them too much credence.

Jesus wept...

The few vague similarities aren’t even worth stating, but it’s easy enough to see why the confusion occurs and of course, why they would want to make the comparison.

The UK protesters want to be seen as a popular movement against ‘oppression’ and garner support, but in terms of what appears to be genuine delusion, I think some of these people look around and see others like them in their social circles (internet included) and so confuse this with a movement that permeates throughout society. Students, public sector workers and the city-based media-wise Liberal Left.

There were a lot of students complaining about the money they might have to ultimately pay for a second rate education, the public sector fear job losses and the erosion of very agreeable benefits and conditions. The students have the time and motivation, the public sector has in addition Union power and they all have the internet.

Well apparently we will very soon see the extent of the anger in this country and see how far it permeates. There is a march on Saturday 26th March in London to protest against the cuts and it will be interesting to see firstly, the overall numbers and secondly, the cross-section involved.

There may well be a quite a few there; many are already highly mobilised and along with the groups I have already mentioned (people with a lot of time on their hands), they can effectively use the uniting power of the internet and it is a movement that ultimately has been made to appear on the side of ‘the people’ and morally good. It’s completely misguided and in many ways basically a con, but it will potentially garner support from those not in the self-interested groups. The unemployed and those claiming benefits may well feel motivated to join in; it appears so from Twitter to some extent.

I do wonder about the cohesion between some of the groups that might be involved and therefore how representative the protests as a whole will be? Of course the whole thing will be spun as a show of unity, but just for one example there may well be people who want to protect the NHS from privatisation, but still see the need for wider public sector reform.

And let’s face it, have the students really thought about their long terms aims? They will be marching alongside public sector workers, but do they realise that if their combined efforts are successful (and they also manage to get a job) they will be working to pay for their public servant comrades’ pensions until the sweet release of death..?

I’m sure many of those that turn up will be mighty angry, but the groundswell of a revolution akin to the uprisings in the Middle East? Well, then large sections of society are still keeping it mighty quiet... We only need look at the examples of recent voting to question the underlying feeling in this country. In the Barnsley Central by-election for instance; yes the Liberal Democrats did poorly, but this was a Labour heartland likely to be severely affected by the cuts and Labour’s share of the vote was roughly the same as in 2005, around 60%. But importantly this was on a 37% turnout, so barely a quarter of the electorate voted for Labour.

Hardly an outpouring of anger at the Coalition government, or had the population forgotten about their democratic rights, maybe they were busy preparing their banners, waiting for the protest on the 26th March..? Perhaps they see that as a more effective way to get their voices heard? They’re more likely to get on the telly…

The real story of the by-election is not the anger of the electorate but the obvious and worsening apathy. If there was a ‘none of the above’ (or to appeal I’d suggest a ‘I don’t trust any of these grabbing c***s’) option would there be more interest? Would there be more with the Alternative Vote?

Looking at the recent LibDem vote, in the 2010 election their share was little more than in 2005, so is a drop really significant? And the right wing share amounted to over a quarter of the vote. In the light of all of this, can Labour seriously claim to be at the forefront of a popular and united movement against the coalition?

Well they’ll claim whatever they think gets them ahead.

A similar by-election result was seen in another Labour heartland, Oldham East
and Saddleworth
, again the turnout is the most significant aspect. Larger numbers on that occasion, but combined with a smaller proportion voting for Labour.
(article including 2010 result for the swindling Labour man, Woolas)

This is not a revolution. There are lots of disgruntled people, but aren’t there always? There were when Labour chose to take us into an unjust war but no-one listened to them.

The fact is there has already been a 'revolution'; Labour had theirs in 1997 and look what happened. Now they want it all over again? It must be the same revolution, because I hear nothing new.

I won’t go into the many observations that have been made about revolutions throughout history and the subsequent political orders. You only need look at the most famous works of George Orwell to see some fundamental truths, behind every new rising.

If you were on the right side of New Labour you did very well; the party itself, the public sector and many individuals, were able to profit from their handling of government and the economy (the rich did very well). With the extension of benefits (whether or not you ultimately paid somewhere else), they even managed to bribe many more sections of society into believing that they were the party of 'the people'. If you missed out altogether, then tough s**t, couldn’t you see what a wonderful society they had created???

Those that benefited from the revolution, or believed that they did, were certainly approaching a majority of the active electorate. Now after the abject failure of Labour’s economic policy and their eventual removal from power, the polls are showing how many people want their return and one can only imagine; a return to the heady days that followed their revolution.

The people of the North Africa and Middle East are seeking freedom, in the case of Libya from a socialist 'revolutionary' leader, and who knows how the resultant regimes will develop, but the desire of a significant number of the people is for freedom from genuine oppression. The protesters in the UK just want the return of the previous regime and the benefits entailed!

This revolution is for a return to the former status quo.

Gadaffi hasn’t yet been deposed but he is fighting back, I think I can see some more appropriate parallels with the UK now…

The fightback is in safe hands...

I have moved away from the Muppet/Sesame Street name calling, not quite so puerile, but too often I find ridiculous and puerile commentary in the political arena, so it is impossible to avoid descending to that level (that’s the excuse anyway).

This is from the Left and the Right, but after the failure from 13 years of a Labour government, the sustained arrogance from the Left is too galling. Their view of the world and its inhabitants is simplistic and patronising, and it seems to ultimately come down to whether you’re on side or immoral.

My view of the Left as a whole has in turn become simplistic. I tend to focus on them as they are the source of my current dissatisfaction with British politics; the incompetence and failure of the Labour party, combined with the continued self-righteousness of the Liberal-Left and not to forget the incompetence and inefficiency of public authorities, further empowered by Labour.

It is not about supporting the Conservative party or the Coalition, simply trying to highlight Labour’s significant failings. Failings that are being overlooked in so many quarters and despite them, they may still be returned to power if the coalition collapses, without having had to learn the lessons from these substantial failures.

With the unpopular decisions being made by the current Government; the white noise from the combined output of all media and the Left’s significant presence on the internet have allowed the Labour party to avoid the full extent of criticism they deserve.

I should feel no shame in highlighting Labour’s inept Leadership, even if done so with Sesame Street comparisons, when there is so much banal to ridiculous nonsense constantly spouted from the Left (and Right) on every level of political discourse. From Gordon Brown to John Prescott, past the many Union mouthpieces, all the way down to these protesters on the streets.

And isn’t it all brilliantly represented on Twitter?

John Prescott has really taken to Twitter.

Man of the people?

'The People?'

What the f**k do they know?

I think Twitter is great for political engagement, it’s fantastic for those with a short attention span and it can throw up a lot of interesting and surprising political content and links. But pointing out that Miliband and Balls look and talk like a couple of Muppets seems positively high-brow when you compare it to such things as the argumentative and abusive comments contributed with little or no consideration and the unashamedly basic partisan standpoints of some the site’s most prolific users.

Need I say more..? (The background says everything you need to know about that little propaganda tool…)

Following a recent tweet during a BBC Question Time hosted in Newport, on the state of the Welsh economy and Labour’s contribution to its development, an individual suggested that my severely truncated opinion was both untrue and ill-informed. I have many more examples but this one springs to mind as I have written about Newport, I’m from the town and I am acutely aware of the Labour party and governance in Wales. There was no indication at all that this individual had ever lived in Wales nor had anything close to an in-depth knowledge of Welsh society and politics. I merely pointed that Labour had not developed the Welsh economy while in power; they had simply given the country an ineffective and expensive assembly, an over-inflated public sector and maintained those on welfare. It’s a simplistic statement, I only had 140 characters and I admit I did not ask this individual to provide evidence to the contrary, but I can back up my opinion with explanation and details. The person does not seem unreasonable but the comment was simply defensive and meaningless.

And I will be writing more about Wales, as I see a lot of the problems that exist throughout the UK, amplified in South Wales. For instance in no small part; the failure of the Labour party in government and the immediate effective pardoning of their significant inadequacies.

Similarly to the by-elections mentioned above the recent referendum on powers for the Welsh Assembly highlighted voter apathy, with a turnout of 35%. But of course this wasn’t how it was simplified for propaganda purposes.

Another recent comment I made on Twitter about BBC Question Time suggesting (in 140 character joke form) that there might be some bias in the programme's production, brought an apparently angry response from someone who thought the suggestion was incredibly stupid. I did point out amongst other things that I had exaggerated for effect and questioned the individual’s familiarity with the Twitter format, but when I see the BBC making statements such as “Wales has said a resounding Yes in the referendum on direct law-making powers for the assembly” when barely a fifth of the electorate voted Yes and in Newport the figure was as low as 15%, I don’t think the implication of bias seems so ridiculous. I see ridiculously simplistic political journalism.

There are accusations from Left and Right about the BBC (though the majority do come from the Right) and it seemed the angry Twitter user was taking umbrage with the weekly flow of tweets. However, as far as I see it now, no matter how hard the corporation tries to be unbiased, it is a public institution and its employees are human beings and we all know what they say about opinions…

And everyone can easily state their opinion on Twitter; it’s great, it’s laughable at times, though sometimes concerning, if it is at all indicative.

There are too many to list and I can’t remember them all but some great recent one-eyed nonsense from the Left side of Twitter has including such sweeping generalisations as the suggestion that if you benefit from or do not mind the current Government you must be rich and privileged. That appears to be a commonly held belief. Forgetting the VAT increase as that effects everyone in proportion to spending, how many groups does this firm belief take into consideration? For instance, single private sector workers?

You need only look at the #condem hashtag to find examples. With the recent news about public sector pension reform, more simplistic generalised observations were stated as common facts. I particularly liked a comment about how 'private sector workers' had taken their money out of pensions and lost it in property, implying that private sector workers only had themselves to blame for the massive inequality in pension provision. How many people was this person referring to, or more importantly, what percentage of workers?

Within the public sector reform debate the same tired old arguments are resurrected every time; that public servants are low paid and they accept this in return for final salary pensions. Well there is plenty of debate about the first part of that argument and the second part suggests that it is then reasonable for them to retire early and the rest of us to pay handsomely for them until they die, whenever that might be… (and let’s not get bogged down in the old ‘nurses and teachers’ argument because we all know that’s only a fraction of the sector). I’d rather we pay them a bit more now and then they can sort themselves out, like the rest of us! What makes them so different?

I mean there are plenty of arguments being made that these pensions will in fact become more affordable in the coming years (the BBC also weighed in on this one, I'd have to say without any clear balance...), although that is following reform and I’m thinking they’re just saying ‘more affordable’, isn’t that just less unaffordable? Less expensive, but still expensive.

The Telegraph piece linked above does identify the unfairness of the situation and the fairness of it all is one of the key generalisations. On Twitter and in the media people comment about the low paid public sector workers and make the wild assumption that everyone (everyone!) in the private sector is paid more. This is fundamental to their simplistic defensive arguments and fundamentally wrong.

Recent statistics have shown the average wage in the public sector is now higher than that in the private sector. I believe this did include pension benefits, of course there will be problems with some data and always exceptions. However, one of the main arguments used in defending the public sector pay is that former low paid workers (such as cleaners) have been out-sourced to the private sector, so the new figures are ‘distorted’. Distorted?? Or the public sector figures are now clearer without the distortion of those low paid workers?

And the fact is the low paid workers are now in the private sector without the benefits and do these people actually think there were no low paid workers in the private sector before such privatisation??? And what of the distortion provided by incredibly high paid workers in the private sector? For instance, the bankers they so despise. They conveniently forget about them when discussing averages.

The fact is there is more homogeneity in public sector, the fact is they have final salary pensions, all contributions ultimately paid for by tax, and such schemes have virtually disappeared in the private sector. Because they have become unaffordable in a sector open to the harsh realities of the global economy.

These people seem to have no understanding of the private sector, appearing to only see bankers and estate agents. The private sector is massive and diverse and includes everyone from hospitality and catering workers to banker and lawyers and right back to factory workers and of course, cleaners. A dose of reality might bring greater appreciation and some objectivity from some people.

After a couple of initial successes with the minimum wage and holiday pay for temporary workers, Brown and his followers did nothing for the low paid in the private sector, while feathering the public sector bed. In the private sector low end wages stagnated and working conditions worsened, in the public sector wages continued to rise along with employment and conditions constantly improved.

As Labour said when they wanted to continue the revolution, 13 years after it started… They envisaged “a future fair for all”

But fairer for some than for others…

'That's right. Are you with me..?'

The revolution will not be for everyone.