There’s an Observer editorial this morning saying that a guaranteed “living wage” is vital morally and economically. It represents the nth example of why I no longer read much from the Guardian Group. What the Guardianistas tend to do is demand something with half the jigsaw still unfinished, having bought the jigsaw with money they can’t afford.
Nobody has a moral right to anything without conditions. Contribute to and work for the general social good, and you have the right to expect the Sovereign State to fulfil its first duty: the protection and development of its citizens. If you don’t have the right to that, then what’s the point of the State? But the money has to come from somewhere. There isn’t any money any more because several key groups in Western society over the last forty years have been either asleep at the wheel, or trying to steal the car. In so doing, they have trumpeted or tolerated an economic model that is a scam, utterly incapable of employing anywhere near enough people, and based on several tenets – all of which have been shown to be baseless piffle. Yet the more this is highlighted, the more loudly the proponents of the scam scream for more of the same.
What we don’t hear from Guardian Group, the Indie or the Mirror is more hard-hitting stuff about the hypocrisy and contradictions of globalist neoliberal mercantilism. The best investigative writing to come out of Big G over the last decade was the Hackgate saga. Three years on, has it made any difference? Yes: it’s slowed down a juggernaut. But the juggernaut is still coming: Murdoch and his son are still free to corrupt and pervert, nobody at Newscorp has gone to jail, and the Conservative MP who facilitated the unholy wedlock between that company and Camerlot has been promoted to Health Secretary…the easier to flog the blood transfusion service to asset-strippers.
As for the ‘economic’ case for a living wage, the Observer piece has to go back to Henry Ford after the First World War to make it. Frankly, it’s a sketchy, lightweight case. The issue here is not the demand for a living wage: it is the need to demand an economic system that can deliver it.
Elsewhere in the paper, Will Hutton veers between the obvious and the illusory. The recovery is hype, he says. Gee thanks Will, I was nowhere on that one until you pointed it out. But how can I take this man seriously given he is the same bloke who, in January 2010 told his readers, “This is the year the world economy gets back on its feet”? Will said this, of course, because Gordon asked him to. Oh dear.
Perhaps this is a bridge too far, but for me the Guardian (much less so the Independent) represents the sort of slightly barmy and fluffy irrelevance that middle class intellectuals first began using to bugger up the Labour Party around 1958. Richard Crosland wrote The Future of Socialism in that year – a book that has a direct DNA link to Tony Blair, who decided around 1994 that Socialism didn’t have a future (the one thing about which I think he was right) but instead chose the ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’ strategy to get elected.
What Labour lost after 1997 – a golden opportunity to show a real third way – was the right to credibly claim “We will protect small vulnerable against big powerful”. Sixteen years later, the Ed Miller Band gives us, “Your friend in tough times”. My immediate reaction was to suggest it be changed to “Your fiend in Toff times”. It was, and is, a pathetic attempt to overwhelm reality with spin. Ed Balls is a man of straw, and Ed Miliband a straw man put up by Harman and Dromey. They’re all technocrat middle-class plonkers: none of them has ever done a real hard day’s work – or added value to what Britain’s about – in their adult lives as “professional” politicians.
The gentrification of the Labour Party was followed from the mid 1970s by the stunning defeat of the Wets in the Conservative host. Indeed, the pretty ghastly male crew with which Thatcher surrounded herself after ousting Ted Heath are in turn the direct genetic forefathers of the quite extraordinarily low-grade, ethically bereft men around Camerlot today – except in the latter case, they’re not following Dave so much as surrounding him. Ghastly under Thatcher has moved on to Gangsters behind Cameron. It will only get worse after 2015.
Finally, the other result of Labour losing its way by bending to Union pressure in the 1970s was the SDP, the brief upsurge of the Alliance with the Liberals under David Steel, and the final act of splitting the Left asunder that produced a Michael Foot leadership. The ‘merger’ that followed (producing the Liberal Democrats and, God help us, Nick Clegg) has undermined the ‘reasonable liberal’ position in middle-ground British politics.
To sum up, what I perceive today (actually, I have done for two years) is the at first gradual but now brazenly accelerating progress of the Risible Right (just as dangerously illiberal as the Loony Left, only much more psychotic) to both privatise and then deregulate politics in Britain. If you doubt this, take a look at Michael Gove: as fast as he is destroying democratic educational localism, this strange man is busy intervening to lighten the scanning process and criteria for deciding whether wannabe teachers should be allowed near children.
But my main point is that they being allowed to do this because of electorate apathy. And we have electoral apathy because first, the Decent Middle Grounders have become cynical about pols in general…and the sense they have of nobody listening; second, the Labour Party has sold out to the electoral system – and left the desperate downmarket to abstain; and finally, the descendants of the SDP have sold out to the technocrats – thus smoothing the way towards the ConDemned Coalition we have in power now.
This why I – and millions like me – have felt disenfranchised since around 1975. In an act close to desperate pleading, in December 2010 I wrote this piece effectively saying “I don’t like what Labour’s become, but without a proper replacement for it, then decency will die”. I think I managed to alienate Sloggers of both Left and Right by doing so, but reading it now, that post still sounds right to me. It’s what drove me into a rage last Friday about not just the Bain smash and grab raid on the blood transfusion service, but the pathetic reaction of Labour’s leadership – and much of the general public. What is the point in wandering about yelling “Hands off our NHS” if (a) you don’t forward a viable solution and (b) you aren’t there with a damned good point to make as the NHS gets shafted by Bain Capital? We’ve come full circle back to why the Guardian gets on my nerves: all mouth, no spine, no ideas. It’s an equation that sums up 95% of Westminster, Whitehall, and Town Hall politics in 2013.
We are still in too many denialist tribes. I would argue strongly that there is a large majority in the electorate who would be against the fanaticism of the Tory Right if they felt that the alternative was decent people with a practical commercial perspective and a sense of the need to cooperate in the displacement of a Loopy-loo economic model that has bred nothing beyond disparity, divisiveness, greed, bankruptcy and mendacity.
It was this that led me to give a name to a non-political pressure group last week – the Unaligned Front for Decency (UFD) – and write a pretty confrontational tweet to several Labour sects. The only reply was from Tom Watson, who asked me what I was about. I replied to say I was a One Nation Mutualist. He responded with “Count me in”. We need more of this; and I need to apologise to Tom for calling him tribalist in the past.
The bottom line is this: do you want to sit, march, mouth off and generally moan about a tiny minority of hijackers taking over the Establishment for their own grubby ends – or do you want to organise cooperatively? Do you want to slag off a BBC bullied by both Parties for nearly thirty years, or do you want to think a bit harder about a media set dominated by Murdoch and his Ghouls? Do you want a Britain we can be proud of again for non-jingoistic reasons – or do you want these arseholes to grind its values into the dirt? These are the questions the UFD is asking.
Until the advent of Baroness Handbag, by far the biggest colour-range in the UK political spectrum was that occupied by the Tory Wets, the soft Left, and the Liberal Party. For reasons I’ve described in this piece, they are no longer represented at Westminster: our increasingly dysfunctional ‘democracy’ has reverted to Reds v Blues point-scoring, with diabolical lobbyists finding things for relatively idle hands to do. Somebody or something needs to represent the desperate, the destitute, and the disenfranchised in our country. It isn’t going to be the leadership of any of the three Parties in the Commons today, and the man outside knocking to get in, Nigel Farage, is definitely not going to do it.
I want to see the UFD acting as a pressure group and a catalyst at an effective level in the process. But I confess to needing more from you lot. Are you up for it? And how would you like to see it develop?
Thanks for reading.