Sunday, 31 January 2010

The Joke that is British Politics.

"The class war is over. But the struggle for true equality has only just begun." Tony Blair

In the most literal sense, British politics is a joke, a sad joke with an ineffectual punch-line, that gets no laughs. Gordon Brown made it clear at the Labour Party Conference what choice the British people face at the next General Election. William Hague also patronisingly "confirmed", what we already knew, in an interview with Andrew Marr a few months ago. The choice the British people face is a choice between a dour one-eyed Scot and a potato-headed Etonian Toff. Essentially, the choice we face is between the New Tories and the Old Tories. We have no other option apparently, not even the Liberal Democrats. After such a site it's easy to fall into a pit of despair, it's even easier to emulate our American cousins by taking out a rifle and climbing Big Ben... though neither would be advisable. After Rupert Murdoch made it clear that he is "throwing in" with David Cameron, by using The Sun (the most popular toilet-paper in Britain) to publicly renounce New Labour, it looks like Labour's time is almost up. This is clear with Murdoch's "impressive record" for picking winners, Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher are two of them.

There is a certain sting that came with Labour's failures to the working-class, the people it is supposed to represent, and that the Conservatives have been declared the only other option. This is what has driven so many people to vote for marginal neo-fascists like the BNP and Little Englanders like UKIP. Under Labour we have seen the lowest voting turnouts since the establishment of universal voting - something that people fought for. Though, it was obvious from the outset that a Labour Party modelling itself on a Democratic Party, a party that was using old phrases from Eisenhower's campaign for President, was doomed to fail. It has been many years since Blair proclaimed, with his smarmy glee, that the class war had ended. Yet, over the last 12 years, wages for the working-class have increased by 45% and wages for the upper-class have risen by 300%. But that is partly a symptom of over 30 years of Thatcherism. The gap between rich and poor in Britain is now at its widest since 1968. One in five young people are denied employment. Labour is now not a party for the working-class or even of the working-class, much like the Conservative Party, it is a party of liars and war pigs.

Even a cursory glance at British history could tell an alien that the Conservative Party exists to fail the masses.
The Conservative Party is currently running to the General Election on a slogan of "Change", which is most definitely plagiarised from the Obama campaign last year. Though, it's a safe bet on the part of David Cameron, as a former-PR man I'm sure he's well aware that Obama's campaign won an award for the most successful marketing campaign of 2008. But this is not new, after all it was Labour that copied the "New Democrats" in their campaign for "Change" that launched Bill Clinton into the White House. This shows just how much "Change" our politicians contemplate and how much is actually "New" about the parties. The openly cynical approach Hague took with Marr, is a clear sign of the over-confidence of our dearly beloved Conservative Party. This over-confidence should be smashed into a million pieces, like the window of a known paedophile in the appropriate fashion as favoured by The Sun. Despite what the current incumbent claims, the Conservative Party does have a policy on the economy - subsidies to companies, the stated aim of which is "job creation", coupled with deregulation and cuts in public spending (on things the poor need).

In the year 2009 more people turned out to vote for Joe McElderry on X-Factor than they had done in 2005 to vote for Tony Blair. The General Election of 2010 will no doubt set a new low in British politics, barely anyone will vote and the Conservative Party will probably declare a "glorious victory". It is a shame that the right to vote is being given up in this way. Cynicism is not the answer to the political and economic woes of our country, it is determined engagement with the political structure that can resolve our problems and their is no other way forward. Suffrage is a civil right that women and men, of a working-class background, literally fought and died for. We should not just hand it back for that very reason. The cynics who see no point in voting are not radical free-thinkers who understand the system, they are the apathetic individuals who accept the system as it is and allow to reconstitute itself again and again. Even if a vote is meaningless in that it fails to make a difference, it means more than no vote at all.

Margaret Thatcher once said "There is no such thing as society, only individuals and their families." This quote exemplifies the neoliberal utopia championed by the Thatcherites in Britain. This "utopia" is completely fragmented, in which every individual is isolated and interested only in the satisfaction of desires which have been created by advertising. In pursuit of this utopia, the Thatcherites enacted legislation against trade unions, privatised national industries on mass and deregulated the markets. In economic terms, Thatcher brought this country out of Keynesian economics and into a new era of neoliberalism. In doing so, communities built around manufacturing, mining, factory work etc. were decimated in this country and the needs of the poor were ignored. Thatcherism is more a convergence of tendencies than a coherent ideology. As the Thatcherites were "liberating" the financial markets and crushing unions, they opposed Gay Rights and introduced regulations on the British video market - to stop people from watching video nasties. The Eurosceptic psychobabble and libertarian economics converges with an admiration of "Victorian values".

All of this talk about a "Broken Britain" is nothing more than the kind of "moralising rants" we often hear from the Right. But the people doing this "ranting" are impotent to deal with the problems in this society, as they are responsible for such problems in the first place. The best they can do is offer cheap reactionary "solutions" like bring back the death penalty, leave the European Union, ban the burka etc. Other "bright ideas" include: bring back caning, repatriation, stopping benefits. It is the hypocrisy of permitting bankers to do as they please to get rich, while expecting the "unruly masses" to live responsible and traditional lives, which has fragmented our society. There is a clear clash between the individualism espoused by libertarians and the traditional values of conservatives, but the Right does not see that. They think that they can mend things that they broke, so long as they go further than they did before. Perhaps, if the standard of education was improved in our country, as well as social and economic inequality, Britain would not be as "broken" as they claim. If people like Tony Blair were held to the same standards as the Nazis, the judicial system would be taken seriously as an institution. If a mainstream political party actually stood for change, electing politicians would mean more to people than voting for the stars of reality TV.

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