One week ago, in came the Election Results, even worse than the Exit Poll, Tories had won the election with a majority, for Labour a crashing defeat.
The Independent on Saturday a week ago had a front page headline and little else, The Strange Death of Liberal Britain.
They were wrong of course. It did not happen on 7 May 2015. We have to go back to VE DAY and the immediate aftermath of WWII.
Post-WWII, we saw the creation of the NHS and the Welfare State. There was a broad consensus across all political parties, that if we all worked together, helped those less fortunate, we were all better off.
And if you wish to see the contrast, look pre-WWII, where poor families wee on the breadline, always living on the edge, fearful if any member of the family fell ill, especially the breadwinner, as how could they pay for the doctor?
The swinging sixties. A steady period of growth through the 1950s and 1960s. Harold MacMillan told us we had never had it so good, and for many this was true. Harold Wilson looked to the future, Concorde, the world’s first supersonic civilian aircraft, the white heat of technology.
But dark forces were gathering, this (as they saw it) socialist, Keynesian society was not to everyone’s liking.
Far-right think tanks were established. They had a very simple and simplistic message, greed was good, we were all individuals.
What had been seen until then as the economic lunatic fringe, Ronald Reagan and Maggie Thatcher adopted the doctrines of the Chicago School, Milton Freedom their prophet, the state was bad, regulation was bad, the state was to be rolled back, privatised, outsourced, as Maggie Thatcher famously told us, there was no such thing as society, there was no alternative, the Lady was not for turning. Neo-liberalism was born.
If people were poor, there must be some deficiencies in their character.
Harald MacMillan criticised Thatcher for selling off the family silver.
Any economic political system is not set in stone, it is not a law of nature. It is writ and devised by man, and can be unwrit by man.
The neo-liberal agenda had run its course with the banking crisis. It was not working. The world economy was facing meltdown.
The banks were bailed out, reinforcing a dictum of Noam Chomsky, we have capitalism for the poor and socialism for the rich.
Ne-liberalism should have been confined to the margins of history, its proponents viewed in the same light as members of the Flat Earth Society. And yet this has not happened.
It has not happened, because powerful vested interests have a vested interest in retaining and maintaining neo-liberalism. It may be a failed project for society, but it is not a failed project for them. It has enabled them to accumulate vast amounts of wealth that would make even the eyes of Croesus (King of Lydia 560-547 BC) water.
These wealthy individuals and corporations are pouring unprecedented amounts of money into the think tanks to keep their project alive. An estimated $900 million per annum.
Democracy is for sale, politician are for sale.
The election that took place, no one could tell the difference, Tweedledee v Tweedledum.
Scaremongering by the Murdoch press aided and abetted by Lord Rothermere and the Barclay Brothers.
Vote labour and you would have Nicola Sturgeon and rabid SNP that must be kept the other side of Hadrian’s Wall eating your children alive.
For years ago, the people of Madrid, occupied the centre in a huge rally.
For Spain, democracy was born. This was not the old, corrupt political parties, this was the people, and it terrified the corrupt political elite.
Since the 15M movement, Spain has seen the rise of a democratic revolution from the bottom up. Whereas in 2011 it was all “bottom”, in 2015 the “up” is within reach. One of the most repeated mottos chanted at protests four years ago was Que no, que no, que no nos representan [No, no, they don’t represent us], “they” being the politicians in power. Today, we’re beginning to hear Que sí, que sí, que sí nos representan [Yes, yes, they do represent us], “they” being regular people who, tired of feeling unrepresented, have organized to try to take back the political institutions. This reverse, hopeful motto is what hundreds cheered at a recent gathering of activists running for the May 25th municipal elections as representatives of newly formed citizen candidacies around Spain.
It all started about a year ago with Guanyem Barcelona, now called Barcelona en Comú, an initiative that has inspired people in dozens of Spanish cities and towns to create their own citizen candidacies, where members of various social movements and non-establishment political parties have converged to stand for local government, the most relevant being Ahora Madrid. With the elections just days away, the support for these new non-parties is turning out to be huge. Some of them, notably Barcelona en Comú, have a very good chance of winning, according to the polls.
In Greece, Syriza has risen out of similar activist grass roots.
Then look to England, Labour talking about aspiration, as though a PR marketing exercise. No attempts to connect with grass roots.
A few days ago, a Town Hall meeting to discuss the kicking out of tenants at Sweets Way. The public were barred from entering what was a public meeting, even those who were being kicked out were barred from entering. Is this democracy? Where were the political parties?
Where have been the political parties as social cleansing has been taking place across London.
When tenants at New Era Estate were facing eviction, it was working with Russell Brand that won at the end of the day.
Where are the people who say they want to lead the Labour Party?
All they are able to do is speak of aspiration.
It is not aspiration we need, it is action.
For the people facing eviction, just to be able to keep a roof over their head would be a start.
People need to wake up to the fact the existing parties, the political system does not work for them. They have to start organising at grass roots, set up their own candidates, take control through their own candidates.
In Scotland, the Independence Referendum galvanised people. It enabled SNP to sweep the board.
In England, transferring power to regional and local councils, is not devolution, it is transferring power from one set of corrupt politicians to an even more corrupt set of politicians.
We have a system of forced representation, political parties impose themselves upon us, and say they will act for us. They do not, they act for themselves and Big Business.
Did we ever invite them to enter our lives?
Representation has to come from the people themselves.
Democracy is not casting a vote every five years, civic duty done.
Democracy is participation, involvement every day of the week.
- Municipal Recipes
- Labour’s rebirth requires a grassroots revolution, not more diktats and spin
- The Only Way is Down: 18 Notes on the UK Election