Wednesday, 20 November 2019

It's Debatable


I didn’t watch the leaders’ ‘debate’ last night because I’ve already seen far more than I want to see of spin-doctored, spruced-up talking heads spouting garbage written by party apparatchiks and tutored by image consultants in how to avoid the pitfalls of the hit-and-miss pseudoscience of body language. A dismal platoon of ‘experts’ will be on parade during the day to earn their fees by regurgitating sixth form psychology about gestures, smiles, turns to camera and handshakes. None of it is at all relevant to the everyday politics that actually affects us.

I want to hear far more from candidates such as Lee Anderson, a former Labour councillor now standing for the Conservatives in Ashfield. I want to hear how Momentum so repulsed this former miner that he switched from tribal Labour to the hated Tories. I also want to hear more about his outspoken views on dealing with nuisance tenants. And I want to know how his views go down, not among the cognoscenti in Parliament, but among the beleaguered people who have to live alongside those tenants.

Because these issues, real issues that intrude on people’s actual lives, are repeatedly ducked by governments. Or, if solutions are proposed, they are attacked by the soft-bellied opposition parties banging on about human-bloody-rights. Already, Mr Anderson’s remarks have been condemned as ‘targeting the vulnerable’, entrenching division and showing a lack of empathy towards those he seeks to represent. Really? Has anybody asked them? I would suggest that were the voices of those he wants to represent ever heard they would be raised in a cheer for common sense.

There are some very real, very pressing issues driving a wedge through what I hesitate to call our society. We have violent crime, rampant disorder, a disrespect for the law and an arrogance in some that borders on insurrection. We have become uncivil, suspicious, cynical and angry at the toothless measures deployed. Ordinary working people, the vast majority of the population, don’t want to ‘reach out’ or understand, or show empathy for those who refuse to fit in. We want correction and punishment, swift and effective justice.

Instead we are lectured by amateur sociologists and social philosophers about what a wonderful, vibrant country we live in and if only we could all just embrace diversity and rejoice in difference, we would somehow evolve into the egalitarian society the chattering classes imagine we all want. Well, we all don’t. Unlike the indoctrinated drones of the parliamentary echo chamber we don’t hear reassuring voices about how throwing money at ‘studies’ will somehow reveal solutions. We simply experience the misery those 'solutions' inevitably create,

He lies? Don't they all?

The people already know the remedies, but the politician don’t have the guts for them. The people know that equality is a crock, but it is a holy grail to western leaders, hungry for the adoration of their own kind. The people want leadership, not a cosy consensus for yet more pandering to difference. The people know that diversity is often a weakness, not a strength as touted by those with the most to gain from the non-jobs it produces. The people want some honest, down-and-dirty, get-it-done politics. Not pretend fucking debates which just make us hate politicians even more.

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Politics as usual

Even as the poll ratings tumble, supporters of the Brexit Party are bravely clinging to the flotsam of their mantra: ‘change politics for good’. It’s a great idea, it is sorely needed. And it is never going to happen. The contest, such as it is, is between the two parties which have alternately held power throughout my lifetime. Two parties which currently seem to be trying their best to not get elected. Every manifesto announcement is palpably false; every pledge, every commitment undeliverable.

This is because politics as it has become is a centrist mêlée in which neither side can gain the upper hand and the country always loses. The pundits are saying different, that we have a choice between quite-right and extreme-left, but the reality is that all parties are courting a populist mandate and fighting for the votes of a people long cowed by the spectre of political correctness and afraid of offending. The few dissenting votes cast will go the likes of the Brexit Party and under the first-past-the-post system are likely to fall on fallow ground.

In years gone by we genuinely did have a choice between a socialist, Labour administration whose authoritarian ideals meant they would provide so long as we behaved ourselves and paid our taxes and a more laisse faire Conservatism where we would provide and the government would behave itself.. as long as we paid our taxes. The Liberals, later to morph into the Liberal Democrats would, as is their lot, be the natural repository for the lost votes of those without such strong tribal convictions.

Those who saw themselves bold and different would pledge for the BNP, Cornish separatists or the Monster Raving Loony Party and other fringe rebellions in the certain knowledge that they would never form a government and never influence government policy. But then came UKIP. Nigel Farage, a political force of nature, took a protest movement and brought it national credibility against a barrage of pretty foul play from the establishment to a position where it promised to challenge ‘politics as usual’. And had one elected MP.

This is now, I believe, the fate of The Brexit Party. As much as I and millions of others want to change our politics, we have no model of what that change looks like. For every couch rebel there is also a tribal Labour voter who will return to the socialist fold under Jeremy Corbyn. For every disenfranchised ex-Tory, like me, there will be two who will breathe a sigh of relief that Boris gives them hope of getting their party back.

So, my prediction, for all that it is worth, is a workable Conservative majority under a single elected term Prime Minister, which will muddle through with a form of Brexit that satisfies nobody and then oversee a slow economic recovery just enough to steady the ship. Shortly thereafter, business as usual will see the long knives out again, the EU will come back to savage the Tories and a watered down, post-Corbyn opposition will be all set to let go of the purse strings once more. And so the circle of British political life turns.

Viva la Revolución!

Nigel Farage deserves a peerage, a knighthood at least; what he has done is the closest anybody has ever done in my lifetime to change things. But the disunited might of the entrenched order has done what it always does. The establishment does not tolerate outsiders and one of the ways it quietens their voice is to bring them inside. A Lord Farage would be rendered toothless and regarded as a sell-out, so such an honour would be a poisoned chalice. So what would YOU do? And as for that single Brexit Party MP, it’s going to a cold, lonely few years.

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Free as a bird

The party manifestos which have been falling over each other to get airtime are, in the main, packs of unsubstantiated lies. Actually, scrub that; they are composed entirely of unsubstantiated lies. The best that can be said of most manifesto pledges is that they are fanciful and naïve wishful thinking and should be regarded in the light of the referendum, which asked if we wanted to remain in the EU or leave the EU without making it clear that only one choice would ever be acceptable to Parliament.

Political parties, for all their bluster, hate elections because they must knowingly trot out bigger and steamier piles of bullshit than their opponents as the truth is just not sexy enough. It is not sufficient to base claims on your track record in government because if you were a government of fiscal probity everybody hates you for not dishing out enough free stuff; and if you were a government of giveaways everybody hates you because you gave it all to the wrong people.

But who doesn’t like the promise of a better, cheaper tomorrow, even if you have a deep suspicion that tomorrow will never arrive? Labour’s free fibre broadband and internet offer may well be an elephant trap for the Tories – top that, Boris! – but it portends both horror and delight, depending on whether you have been watching the world for the last few decades or not. State-run access to everybody’s online interactions, round the clock, is a totalitarian administration’s wet dream, but, you know, free, right?

If that doesn’t conjure up dystopian visions of 1984 and every post-apocalyptic movie spawned since the dawn of cinema then look around at the world today. China and North Korea are great examples to study. But I’m sure Jeremy Corbyn’s magic free internet will be run on entirely kinder, gentler lines. For sure. Of course. No doubt. But wait, there’s more: Aaron Bastani yesterday opined that should Labour get into government and see a second term they also have ambitions for a publicly owned digital payments system. What could possibly go wrong there?

Then today we get free dentistry. I mean, what’s not to like? For what it’s worth I do believe the state has a role to play in protecting the public from the worst excesses of unrestrained capitalism, but we can’t just lurch from one extreme to the other. Everything has a price; everything has to be paid for somehow and we all know that the burden of payment falls hardest on those with the least. For those at the top it’s only money, but when you have no money the price is freedom. Every time.

People who are considering voting for ‘free stuff’ need to consider the value of choice. The Corbyn/McDonnell/Marx axis is offering a world where you can have any colour you like, as long as it is black. Where the state provides, shortages follow. So, for all their idle chatter about shoring up the rotting hulk of the NHS, waiting times would get longer, medicines would become scarcer and the bed count would shrink, as sure as night follows day. If the government was the only baker, every day we would run out of bread; not from any malign intent but through an ideological inability to allow independent enterprise to pick up the slack.

It's all free, I tell you! 

Likewise, the apparent gift of free access to the all the world’s information will inevitably become free access to some information; information which is deemed suitable and information which does not threaten the government. ‘Approved information’. Because free is not the same as freedom. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln: You can have it all or you can have it for free, but you can’t have it all for free.

Friday, 8 November 2019

Machine Politics

You may have noticed that the political parties (although they are all behaving more like children’s parties; expect jelly and balloons) have launched their manifestos and lo and behold, bribes. Back us and we will spend your children’s future taxes. No, back us and we will mortgage your grandchildren. Ah, but WE will spend so much it will make historians wince. It’s not ‘spending’, as such, it’s ‘investing’. What’s the use of money when there is no planet left to buy? And so on and so forth; it’s going to go for a few weeks.

Education, education and policing and justice and social justice and rights and righting wrongs; it’s the economy, stupid. Oh and Brexit; we will deal with it once and for all. Promise. Trust us; we will deliver. It always amuses me how every party promises to deliver on promises they made before and failed to make good on, often multiple times. The Tories have failed to control immigration, establish order and build a mighty economy. Labour has similarly failed – every time it has tried – to conjure up a land of milk and honey.

I forget quite what the LimpDems stand for, other than not what the country voted for. The Greens just seem to hate humanity in its entirety and if they are brutally honest they would probably start with a cull. (And if I’m honest I think they are onto something there) But in reality, if they can’t slaughter half the population they can at least promise to make all of us thoroughly miserable. Despite all of them we still have just six days to save the NHS, a situation which seems to have endured throughout my sentient life.

Northern Powerhouse, HS2, Bobbies on the beat, a free owl for every child… the cacophony of false hope echoes around the land and probably less than 5% of the electorate even hear it, let alone give a toss. The net result of the steady post-war decline in standards, expectations and trust in power is that nobody with the gift of independent thought believes a single word of what any politician says. They may as well set up stalls and tout for business selling miracle cures. Snake oil salesmen, the lot of them and some of them don’t even realise it, so much like brainwashed automatons have party apparatchiks become.

We need to face up to a simple, inescapable truth, which is that politics as we knew it is a busted flush. The people we vote for are powerless to effect change against the whims of the party machine and if the party abandons the very policies on which they were elected it renders the notion of a free vote equally invalid. If I vote for one party because of their stance on a particular pressing issue, but then that party chooses not to pursue the agenda which got them into power what is the point of democracy? A recurring Soviet joke about the stagnant state was that “they pretend to pay us and we pretend to work”.

Place your 'X' against the candidate of your choice...

When it comes to it, we are just voting machines for equally robotic vote machines which obey the directions of higher authorities. The decisions are not made from the ground up. We pretend to vote and they pretend to represent us. As a result more and more members of the population are detached from the levers of power and rely instead on their real friends and allies – the little people who live in their phones. So why don’t we cut out the middle men, the pointless mounds of quivering flesh who pose as politicians. They say we are entering the age of machines; I say bring on the robots!

Monday, 4 November 2019

Open Season

It’s an election, so it is Farage-bashing season once again. Like others I have had my doubts about the former leader of Ukip, now boss of The Brexit Party but despite part-time pretenders to the title, he is undoubtedly, indisputably Mister Brexit. Without his tenacity and courage we would never have had the binary in/out referendum in 2016. And yes, courage; ask yourself if you could even come close to putting up with the inestimable amounts of sheer bile directed at him.

He has been the butt of the entire leftist canon of comedy for well over a decade. He has been portrayed as a Nazi, a bigot, an islamophobe, a con-man, a fraud and a philanderer among many more equally slanderous and unfounded charges. He has been spat at, egged, milkshaked and threatened with far, far worse. His rallies have been disrupted by violent troublemakers – the knuckle-dragging thugs of Momentum and Antifa and others all too ready to jump to their leftist masters’ commands. His personal integrity has been impugned at every turn and still the man is there, backing what he believes.

The political and media world has been far too ready to take at face value the charges against his motives. He has rich backers; he is a tool of the global elite; he is a vainglorious attention-seeker. The latter may be true, after all a recent study shows narcissism on the increase, but in the absence of any leader with half his following he has some vindication for a certain level of self-validation. But that only makes him exactly the same as the majority of those who have sought office and probably puts him a long way behind Boris Johnson if narcissism were a contest.

Now Nigel has done the apparently unthinkable and has announced that he will not contest a seat in this election. Very wise, I’d say, given the opprobrium that would be heaped upon him, but this isn’t enough to deflect the critical flak. Some are even calling him a coward, saying he wants to wreck Brexit, saying that a vote for his party is a vote for Corbyn. This is the dark work election strategists do – frame your opponent as anything but what he really is. If he says it’s red, concoct a reason why that is in some way a condemnation of his very soul, even if, when you actually look, it really is red.

Use whatever fits your own narrative; attack the man, not the ball. It seems that nobody who is against him has the intellectual capacity to entertain for even a second that he is sincere, dedicated and true to his mission. Damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. If he stands he will be charged as pursuing personal ambition, not standing he is portrayed as running away. The big noise right now is that he is in some way acting against Brexit and some fantasists have suggested that this was the plan all along; that he has been bought off by shadowy forces.

Theories abound and dark conspiracies are being dreamed up and promulgated. The Russians, naturally have a hand in it, as do all the people accused of backing Farage over the years. Clandestine alliances have been formed, broken and reformed in a matter of hours. Every political pundit has an opinion and none of them are favourable. This election is about more than just Brexit, say the parties, but it isn’t. It isn’t at all.

Give the man some credit

It isn’t about the economy, nor the environment as Andrew Marr insisted yesterday. It isn’t about immigration, education or any of the things governments usually interfere in. This election is about one thing and one thing only and on this one issue, no matter what you think of the man himself, you have to, surely, give Farage credit for understanding the EU. If he wants to torpedo the PM’s withdrawal agreement, imagine for a second that he has good reason. And if you can’t bring yourself to see one honest thing in his actions; if you are so bound to your ideological programming, just ask yourself, would you trust Boris Johnson?