I have been following the events in the UK leading up to the referendum from another country; I have to ask myself what has happened to the country I grew up in and love; one that has been looked up to for its democracy and openness? A country that gave me a free education and support to postgraduate level; an education system that allowed and encouraged access to universities that were previously confined to the so-called elite; a free health service that saved my life; I could go on. When I saw the presentation of UKIPs poster with a smug Farage and then shortly after heard of the assassination of Jo Cox; I was just stunned. Can this be the country where my family and some of my best friends live?
When did this all happen? When did the rot start? Britons were responsible for the founding of major international humanitarian organisations such as Amnesty International and Oxfam. At the time, there was an overall consensus that this was the right thing to do among the broader population. Despite the welfare state having been introduced by the Labour Government after WWII, it was not wiped away when the Conservatives came into power and was sustained throughout their fifteen years of power through to the mid-1960s and at the time was the one that offered the most comprehensive coverage in Europe.
So back to the question of when the rot set in. I remember clearly during my last undergraduate year in the late 1970s a friend saying to me “if that woman (Thatcher) gets in. she is going to change the face of Britain as we know it”. And he was probably right. The concept of consensus disappeared; social partnership (kill off the unions-if you want a job “on-your-bike”), a healthy and functioning public sector (privatise) and a sense of responsibility of the State towards its citizens in the broadest sense. She started the culture of the “them and us” whether it be the unions or Europeans; the lazy and the industrious (those who can make money); immigration/race (if you don’t support the English cricket team you can’t be British). Above all, she was smart in understanding how to use the media to manipulate popular thinking. Has anyone asked themselves what might have happened to Britain outside of the EU and Thatcher been given a totally free hand? Remember many of the BREXIT supporters in the Conservative Party have views of where Britain should be moving that are not too distant from Thatcher’s.
Since that time, the media has supported and encouraged the policies of the small elite, irrespective of the party in power. And politicians have played to the power of the media; including Blair who flagrantly abandoned the interests of the working class and the broader philosophy of the role and responsibilities of the State and the concept of social mobility (e.g. student loans that paved the way for student fees). Politicians sought the support of newspapers whose owners openly supported Fascism in the 1930s and, not surprisingly, whose present owners have much to be worried about if the EU with the OECD seriously tackles the issues of tax transparency (evasion).
These are problems that are not confined to the UK but have been exacerbated by a very powerful press that represents interests that are not necessarily beneficial to the broader UK population. So whilst politicians and certain political commentators have appealed to moderate the language, it will be very difficult to change a mindset that has carefully been cultivated for the past 30 plus years.
It is a very sad moment for Britain that these divisions in a fundamentally open and caring society have been opened up for egoistic motives and the interests of a small (elitist) group that has been able to misinform and manipulate. Unfortunately, these scars are not going to be easy to repair. It is clear from the comments to articles in newspapers (including the Guardian and Independent) are based on an ignorance of how Europe works and how national politicians pass the blame onto Europe when they have themselves been the architects of the policies. And remember it has been the UK Government that has been the main driver of the neoliberal policies, both in Britain and Europe, that have contributed to austerity (and immigration); not to mention de-regulation that caused the 2008 financial crisis. But with the help of the media, governments can always point the finger at somebody else; governments that increasingly have distanced themselves from the broader population and politicians who willingly have allowed our democracies to degenerate into a system of “divide-and-rule” for the benefit of a few and a return to the agenda of the Victorian era.
All this does not mean that I embrace the EU blindly with open arms; it needs urgent reforms if Juncker is to live up to his statements of “open and inclusive Europe”. Maybe the BREXIT referendum will give that push; certainly the comments of the newly elected President of Austria are a positive sign. In the meantime Britain is going to have to deal with a gaping and divisive wound to its society which going to take a long time to heal.
Blairites follow Tory neoliberal policies and also their behaviour. Only a week into the job, the new mayor of London Sadiq Khan is trying to emulate Boris by clearly making a pitch to be leader of the Labour Party; just as Johnson has done with the Tories.. When will these politicians grow up and put the country before their own bloated egos
The new mayor of London is already giving Corbyn advice. So there is a new London mayor and the first Muslim mayor of a major European capital. I wonder how much will change? I can remember all the promises Blair had made; but in the end what happened? He virtually continued the Tory economic policies to keep big business and the financial sector happy – result 2008 crash which everyone (apart from the 1%) feels the consequences of on a daily basis. Blair joined the USA and led the country into a military conflict in the Middle East and the era of “politics of fear” that we also are made aware of on a daily basis. Despite these disasters we are still told that the Labour Party should continue the New Labour Blairite Line. Is that what we really want? Shouldn’t there be an opposition that has a clear set of policies that take us down the road of a more equitable society? Let’s hope that after the referendum Corbyn may start to spell out what those policies might be. Just dangling in the middle road is going to turn more and more of our democracy over to the finance and corporate sectors. If Corbyn and the Labour Party are not prepared to come up with alternatives we may as well have a grand coalition; or come out in the open and admit that we have a dictatorship that is run by a junta comprised of the Lord Mayor of the City of London Corporation in partnership with the head of CBI, banks and the Big Four accountancy firms.
How much of the furore around Ken Livingstone’s supposedly antisemitism comments is being manipulated by vested interests under the shield of “political correctness”. I say shield because political correctness is now being used to stifle debate. Livingstone was not referring to a particular group (ethnic, gender, gay etc.)to which certain advocates of political correctness would respond (correctly) by saying “tut-tut” or taking even stronger offence (incorrectly) as in the particular case. Ken Livingstone was referring to the Israeli-Palestine problem. We must not forget that Israel was the key ally of the Apartheid government in South Africa; a major supplier of arms and collaborated on a nuclear programme; obviously with the blessing of the US who, along with Thatcher, was not too keen on the dismantling of the Apartheid regime.
If Ken Livingstone did insult Jews he should be remanded; but if he was referring to Israel being a fascist state, he should be free to say so. Israel’s behaviour towards Palestine is not too different to the politics of Apartheid; Palestinians are being deprived of water; have their land grabbed and above all their fundamental human rights are abused on a daily basis. Stifling debate using a phoney “political correctness” bandwagon only serves the interests of certain media magnets who want to manipulate the public and control their puppet politicians; stifle debate; and continue the myth that it is all the fault of the Palestinians.
This (voluntary) Saudi Arms Embargo by the European Parliament is probably one of those areas that the pro-Brexit campaign will claim to be “Brussels interfering” in national policies. I wonder how Boris Johnson; Osborne, Farage et. al. will comment on this; probably something along the lines “Brussels puts British jobs at risk.”
John Bercow accused of hiding details of MPs’ and peers’ alcohol abuse. This appears to be another example of irrelevant news.. Would it not be better to hear about the manner in which the MPs are serving the country, whether sober or otherwise; and who is deciding for them with corporate puppet strings?
I have no comment to the content of this article that appeared in the Guardian today, other than to say that certain Danish newspapers are questioning the logic of the DK Government. This type of headline reporting in the Guardian supports the newspaper’s policy of continuing to walk on the tight rope of trying to keep both sides of the argument happy. The Guardian did not allow comments to this article; had there been there would have been a majority in support of the Danish action. This would really have tarnished the image of the newspaper. Anyone who has taken the time to read the recent comments pages, especially those relating to the German and Austrian so-called welcoming of the refugees, will have been shocked by the racist and inhumane comments by an apparently “enlightened” readership. These comments are often shrouded in anti-EU statements and link the German decision to take the refugees with a German desire to dominate European policies. So, one can only conclude that by having the Danish story as one of today’s headlines, the Guardian is attempting to appease its increasingly isolationist and intolerant readership. One has to ask how is it possible to arrive at this situation? Obviously, it is the content of the newspaper itself that through badly researched and often very subjective “breaking-news” style reporting has been able to subtly shape the opinions of the once “enlightened and socially aware readership”. One also has to ask whether there are hidden sponsors for this type of journalism.
We hear so much in the news of the scale of the human tragedy facing the many refugees trying to come to Europe. There many organisations, small and large, many voluntary trying their best to help; often against a background of public intolerance and even aggression. The initiative on the part of Bayern Munich football club to provide food, German lessons and football equipment for children has to be praised. This type of action raises the level of awareness of the problems amongst the broader population , bravo Bayern Munich. It seems that other football fan groups across Germany have taken a pro-refugee stance rather than the right-wing intolerance that was often associated with the typical football hooliganism of the past. Let’s hope other countries/clubs will follow suit.
I don’t know if the heat is getting at me, I’ve cut down on the G&Ts as there are not so many mosquitos; and I’m sure the Spritz and Pimms can’t be the cause. But, in the light of the incredible cover-up by the Tin Lady in the 1980s, I’ve been thinking about the so-called special relationship between Britain and the USA. This is a routine excuse for Britain doing stupid things to support the US. So, if the MI5 helped to “hide” the evidence of a massive paedophile ring in government circles, isn’t it possible that the CIA knew about this? If so, how did the USA take advantage of this information – pushing the neoliberal policies? Smashing the unions? Delaying democracy in South Africa? (If the CIA knew I’m pretty sure Mossad and their buddies in the Apartheid government knew). Could it be possible that the squeeze was put on the Tin Lady and successive governments to tow the USA line; or they would expose the bunch of murdering perverts in the higher echelons of British society? What else has been covered up in the name of pursuing the interests of the stronger partner in the so-called special relationship?
Now of course, we mustn’t forget the chums in the KGB of the Former USSR. This happened at the height of the Cold War (placing missiles all over Europe to please the USA) but, also, at a time when many predicted Perestroika would be just around the corner. As we all know from the Hollywood propaganda films, the Ruskies are chess players and strategic thinkers. It seems to me quite likely that the good old KGB kept this information to themselves for use when, a few years later, the Commie chums wanted to launder money in the UK, buy up property, break planning laws; and above all ask for (fake) asylum and citizenship.
I don’t even want to mention the Arabs (arms corruption cases pushed under the carpet) or let alone the Chinese. I’m going back to a G&T (it’s getting a bit hot outside!)
All fiction of course. How would the Americans have know that Britain was being governed by a bunch of perverts?
(c) Roger Short 2015