Friday, 24 January 2014
UK Politics: A way out of this mess
I don't write much in condemnation of Labour. There is little point, because I'm crediting my readers as already having basic common sense - and would not be reading this if they had not. And why rage at the sky for being blue? That said, it's time to stick the boot in on the Tories.
I've not said all that much on this subject because I'm watching with a close eye while I forge my conclusions. But here is what I see: Back in 2004, I was among the many who could see that the Cameron Project to detoxify "the brand" was doomed to failure (as if turning politics into brand competition was ever going to do politics any favours). Asset stripping the party of its most basic founding principles in favour of chasing the Guardian vote was a tactical blunder, and a huge slap in the face to anyone who considered themselves naturally conservative. Where else would they go but Ukip?
Much was then said of the "Ukip effect" on Tory marginal seats, which is what produced the defeat in the polls for Cameron - as many said it would. The dynamic was not the appeal of Ukip, but the revulsion to Cameron. Along with A-lists and a a total disregard for grass-roots level activity, Cameron made a lot of enemies. Those who did not vote Ukip simply stayed at home on polling day.
Senior local Tories at the time told me they needed Cameron in order to win elections. Except that he did not win, thus we have a coalition. But that coalition has been largely dominated by the Tories with the Lib-dems becoming increasingly insignificant as each day passes, yet that has not stopped the Tories hiding behind them as an excuse for their timidity and lack of purpose. It's baloney. Can you honestly tell me that a Cameron majority government would be more red-blooded? I doubt it. We have not seen radicalism of any kind, anywhere. We have seen fringe adjustments dressed up as reform, but nothing that gets the blood pumping and certainly nothing that inspires us for the future.
The economic miracle recovery could better be described as bumping-along-the-bottom, held aloft by a misplaced sense of optimism, based on flawed and phoney statistics. Then lately, we have seen Gove and IDS stealing the clothes of radical, principled conservatives, but in the main, the state school system and the welfare empire remain largely in tact.
I have been somewhat moved to give two cheers to IDS, since dismantling the welfare empire cannot be done with a wrecking ball. It must be done slowly and carefully, because those on welfare are not just numbers on a page. They are people. Welfarism took 40 years to mature into the monster it is today and will not be rolled back in the space of one or even two parliaments (much though I would wish otherwise), especially without a firm mandate.
That said, I have no particular confidence that even with a mandate they will put their foot on the gas. The latest Tory wheeze is to boast their proud achievements via this website in which its calculator boasts that it has reduced my income tax by a staggering £150. A somewhat extraordinary boast to make to someone who sees tens of thousands removed from their wage annually. This government has apparently "Saved" me £182 a year on petrol by "freezing Fuel Duty". Not cutting. But "freezing". How is that a saving exactly? Who is dumb enough to buy this crap? Nobody. That's why voter turnouts are so low.
They also boast they have reduced crime by 21% in Avon & Somerset - "making your community safer.". Of course it's easy to reduce crime figures if you don't bother to investigate crime and you're making the numbers up. The Tories take us for fools.
Meanwhile, they have successfully framed the economic debate in terms of "deficit reduction", again by fiddling the figures, to proudly tell us that they have marginally slowed the rate of borrowing - which says nothing of the trillion or so in national debt and the gaping trade imbalance. And for what little good has been done by the Conservative cabinet, it is undermined whenever the PM opens his mouth.
So this leaves us with few choices. If one is to vote, one can either cast a vote for the ideas-free Ukip clowns or hold ones nose and vote Tory, largely because the country cannot take any more economic or social vandalism by Labour. What chance have we at all when the best option going is to only to slow the rate of decay by a fraction?
The Tories offer no great vision for the future. They are as bereft of ideas as all the other parties. The Tories are not reducing tax so that one might notice. Nor are they reducing the size of the state. They are merely reducing public ownership of an expanding state. My vision of a Conservative future is one of a real "Big Society", whereby government only fills the void charity leaves behind rather than vice-versa. We see some aspects of this in the rise of food banks, but the charity sector is still hamstrung by red tape, and cannot grow to fill the vaccuum while taxes remain eyewateringly high.
Essentially, what we will end up under the Tories is a Serco-G4S corporate-state, where we pay top whack for services which we then do not receive, while paying twice in order for charities to do what little they can. All the while, the real private sector stuggles under the mounting regulatory expenses and taxes. To lay waste to the claim that the Tory party is a party of enterprise, one need only look at local business rates and employment law. Can you blame the public for their "voter apathy"?
This leaves us staring across the table at one another, wondering how far we have to fall before we can turn this around. What we need is a revolution in politics. But that is not what is on offer, not even by Ukip or the Greens. What these parties have usefully demonstrated is that playing the party game, by establishment rules, produces the same lamentable outcomes as ever they have. This is why we have to stop playing their games by their rules.
The process of voting is merely the asking of the establishment if we may please have a little influence in who governs us and how. That speaks to our collective lack of aspiration. I want more. I want to take the power from them, and we can only do that by challenging their authority and removing their means to control us; our money. If you are paying their wages, you are part of the problem. Tax evasion is not a crime. It is now a civic duty.
A general strike among the labour force would scarcely be noticed (were it even achievable), but to deprive them of their money, even for just a month, would force them to the table. This is what a real taxpayers union would be working toward. But instead that hole in politics is occupied by the Uncle Tom "Taxpayer's Alliance" which is essentially a Tory-boy think tank; a subservient, grovelling safety valve for "protest" but still essentially shills for the establishment, and always ready with a rent-a-quote for our dismal local media. We have to bypass them altogether.
I'm afraid there is no glory in the coming revolution. There is no paid internship in a think-tank, there is no cushy public office or a newspaper column - and there is no media exposure. The death of this regime will be a death by a thousand pinpricks, from individuals each acting in their own capacity, by their own initiative, each using their wits to play the system. And this is your blueprint right here. This is how we force them to the table and that's when they will have to listen to us. It is then we shall demand The Harrogate Agenda.