THE SATURDAY ESSAY: Why the 2015 UK election is an irritating noise, nothing more.

scratchsurface4415The sound of politicians scratching the wrong surface

The history behind the coming step-change

All major political, economic and scientific advances change society, and almost all are a mixed blessing. But at the time, they usually have so much apparently to offer – victory in war, an easier life, a health cure, personal independence, greater efficiency, and of course vastly increased profits for those engaged in marketing them – they are assumed to be ‘progress’.

For what we still call ‘the working class’ – those doomed to be selling their labour to all-powerful capital – most of the changes brought about by business-lobbied political decisions in the last 30-35 years in the West have meant not progress, but a disaster of shattered living standards and self-esteem for 80+% of those “who work” as employees…ie, most of us.

In some cases, greed brought Damocles’s sword down on their own heads: greedy wage claims, greed for power among the tiny Stalinist minority, closed shops restricting the labour available, overmanning in the press sector, a lust for constitutional power via the Labour Party, and envy-driven disputes based entirely on the fact that train drivers were paid more than conductors.

But the price paid by the majority for the actions of ideologues like Scargill and McGahey in Britain far outweighs whatever crime they may have committed. Just as science is sold as ‘progress’, so too a massive shift in the power balance is called ‘reform’. (Troika2 still gaily refers to the systematic pauperisation of the Greeks as ‘reform’.)

The ‘reforms’ brought in by Reagan and Thatcher (and then left alone by Clinton and Blair) had seven main results for the vast majority of those with a job: shorter hours, lower wages, less job satisfaction, vastly increased wealth inequality, housing booms in which they were left behind, the deregulation of wealth accrual further up the social scale, and last but far from least, the destruction of communities such as those found around the centres of the coal mining, iron trades, and food manufacturing industries.

There is still a widespread belief (because it suits both Labour and Conservative to promote it) that the electoral choice in May 2015 will very clear indeed: “more socially and financially destructive neoliberalism, versus The Better Plan – minimum wage levels, higher taxes for the rich, regulation of bankers and government help for SMEs to create new businesses etc”…the Labour mantra. Or from the horse’s arse of Grant Shapps, “fast-growing gdp creating more jobs and more security with austerity to ensure we pay back the debts we owe and become a world class economic force again versus Spend, spend, spend by Labour, higher taxes for all, and far too many interfering regulators etc”.

In fact, both versions are so at variance with the empirical reality, they render the election pointless in both the broader and domestic context. I find it vaguely amusing but also terrifying that in reality what we are probably going to get after the election is a weird melange of how Labour sees the Tories, and how the Tories see Labour. That is to say, “uncosted spending proposals and higher taxes to pay for bureaucratic waste and the shocking rise in National Debt leading to more austerity, shorter hours, lower wages, and the confused distraction of political point-scoring so likely to follow a new Coalition”.

I say this because things beyond our control are going to change the landscape: the effective breakdown of the United Kingdom as a serious entity, the economic flatlining and euro bankruptcy of our closest trading partner, the continuing slowdown in China and corruption backlash there, and the clash between the US and those with old oil and new currency ideas.

So in fact, all the election on May 7th really represents is a massive distraction from The Big Issue: the enormous shift of political and financial power away from labour towards capital, and the gigantic global debt that has created.

Chronic blind-eye syndrome

Both Left and Right these days hide behind words like ‘progressive’, reform, neoliberalism and Keynes v Friedman. They do so in order to set up The Big Fight between right and wrong. I think Friedman was a useful idiot employed to excuse anti-social wealth obsession, and Keynes is about as relevant to the post-digital world as Marx. But the truth is, we don’t have neoliberalism – we have globalist monopolism. George Soros, Rupert Murdoch, Jamie Dimon, and Bill Gates built their fabulous wealth on the backs of misfortune and highly questionable tactics to destroy the competition. These men detest the very idea of an open anything, least of all an open market: they blackmail retailers, stab currencies in the front, plot to undermine competitor credibility, and force choice down to one option – theirs.

But as the line blurs between these sick gargoyles and the States they bankroll, globalist monopolism is fast morphing into corporate colonialism. Those who get in the way – the Swiss franc, Russia, Iran, Greece, Ukraine, or Hungary – find their banks, leaders, ideas and values trashed, their economies boycotted, and their liquidity threatened.

Now before delving into the consequences in more detail, I think it necessary briefly to return to a point I made a week ago at The Slog, which is this: none of the Big Five Parties in Britain have the slightest intention of changing the globalist monopolism which has brought us to this sorry place. To be more precise, nobody – nobody – in the Tory, Labour, Ukip, LibDem or SNP ranks will so much as criticise it in public, let alone ponder plans to be rid of it root and branch.

Why should they be doing so?

The consequences of technology, investment banking and globalist monopolism

The current majority form of capitalism needs three things to survive: universal credit debt, massive consumption levels, and rapid rates of repurchase. A reasonably bright eight year old could extrapolate from this construct that consumer insolvency compounded by job loss and welfare cuts mean the system is doomed to eat itself.

The economic model beneath which most of the planet (in one form or another) now labours has produced one good result: an increase in the standard of living of a sizeable minority of those who live in Asia. But their salaries, working conditions and housing are 14th century in nature, their welfare and health provision almost completely absent, their access to water severely restricted. The net consequence for these unfortunates has been a rise from desperate near-starvation to bare survival. It’s not much of a journey, all told.

Technology has produced very clear negative consequences: decimation of factory jobs, the extinction of independent souls engaged in the craft of repair, massive losses in the construction sector, and huge layoffs in the car industry. The internet alone has destroyed almost every media, retail and broadcasting business model on the planet, with the medium-term knock-on effects of both retail and construction staff struggling to find regular work, and communal shopping ‘centres’ disappearing in favour of out-of-town mega-malls….which now themselves find it impossible to compete with an explosion in direct selling where no physical distribution is involved.

Such drastic change has been apparent throughout modern history: the Luddites of the 18th century chose the indiscriminate destruction of weaving machines as a direct strategy, but by and large their reward for this was Australian citizenship. However, from the late 19th century onwards, sensible, functional banking (peaking in the 1950s but now extinct) often stepped in to back entrepreneurs with new ideas requiring a new kind of worker.

Investment Banking didn’t step up to plate this time…and that’s part of the problem.

The big difference in our era is that this isn’t happening, because – having engaged in an orgy of inter-competitor selling of no use to the real economy whatsoever – the investment wing of the banks rendered themselves either technically insolvent, or so exposed to bad derivative bets they dared not reduce their liquidity further.

Western States compounded the loss of diversification backing for SMEs by helping the banks out with Zirp….which left the biggest age demographic in history without interest rates upon which to live….and decimated their consumption power. (In the long run, perhaps, killing more banks than it cures.)

And QE of course – the wonder drug that saved the world – meant richer investors and big companies could continue getting even richer and more highly valued without any entrepreneuralism at all beyond bankrupting the odd ten thousand SMEs via fraud here and there.

Floods of liquidity and free money may keep the accountants, Bourses and multinationals happy: but they produce stagnation when it comes to the sort of R&D that creates real jobs with long-term potential….and of course, make it easier for them to sell loss-leaders that strangle the smaller competition.

But to gauge one key negative impact of inward-facing bank practices, you need only look up its apologists and see where they protest the most about ‘false accusations’ against bankers. This ‘defence’ spin centres almost entirely around how much the bailouts actually cost the States concerned.

The CIA (of all people) estimates that globally, by the end of 2012, the bailout of the banking systems had cost some $23 trillion. Defenders of the banks say this doesn’t tally with the actual bailout monies expended in, say, the US. That’s because they quite knowingly ignore our old friend the contingent liability. Add that little item in, and the UK’s banking cock-up doubled the national liability.

Whether they like it or not, whoever winds up running Britain after May 2015 is going to have to get real about the debt…and either inflate it away, or get much higher taxes from the citizens. A rise of just 2.2% in borrowing rates, by the way, would render Britain insolvent by, at the very latest, Spring 2017.

Finally, nobody should underestimate the effect of blatant central banking interference in and manipulation of many investment basics: the Dollar price, the gold price, the oil price, the Libor rate, the insane levels of the bourses, the ruinously low interest rates and the false liquidity disaster of QE: tried now fifteen times around the world, failed thirteen times, jury out on the other two.

Not only is all this pumping the cancer patient full of addictive painkillers, it is also breeding a generation of humans who no longer have a steer on what the real, natural ‘known value’ of any investment mechanism might be. Speed of light deep liquidity trading is bad enough, and fiat currencies make things worse. But when a system claiming to let the market decide pulls this range of stunts to keep the ship afloat, you can be sure that the seabed beckons in the end.

Globalist monopolism in turn has chosen, faced with this mess, to follow three strategies: look for the lowest cost supplier/employee, cut jobs to keep the stock price up, and cut every manufacturing cost imaginable in order to tempt in the victims unable to buy real quality. (They have also used free QE money to mechanise to the maximum while demanding higher output efficiencies from the workforce).

This is why everything today breaks within anything from ten minutes for a ballpoint pen to nine months for a power tool, or eight days after the guarantee runs out on a washing machine. It keeps up the repurchase levels, but in the medium term costs the consumer more money and hassle.

It also leads, inevitably, to a lower quality of job satisfaction for the worker. Craft skills build self-esteem: but thanks to New Labour’s pro-globalist education target nonsense, Britain is now a nation of unemployable media studies graduates, and no plumbers or woodworkers.

Globalism sells itself on three main bases: we’re becoming a global village anyway, it saves on administration/marketing costs, and there will always be room (on such a diverse planet full of economic variation) such that importing and exporting will result in the greatest number of winners.

As you’ve probably already worked out from that brief paragraph, the theory originally developed by Ted Levitt (another useful idiot) is contradictory: we have infinite cultural variation, but we’re also all the same really. First up, the Global Village is provable tosh; second of all, multinationals spend miles more in admin and marketing than small independent businesses; and finally, far from producing many winners, it has resulted in the sort of aggressive mercantilism which, in several areas of the world (notably in the Middle East and Sino-Japanese relations) could easily lead to a major-league hot war at some point in the next decade.

In fact, Globalism and Supranationalism work hand in hand because all they care about is Big Process.

But the world of the future is going to need the big ideas that come from mould-breakers, and the low costs that come from small communities. This wave – and it is coming, be in no doubt – is being prefaced already by the formation of more and more mutual businesses – which became three years ago the fastest growing sector of business construct…and is now being adopted on a bigger and bigger scale by the Conservative Party. A major shock, but a welcome one.

Looking at Europe offers more grounds for my prediction. Spain is dividing up, so is Britain, the European Union is split on four irreparable dimensions, eastern and South-Eastern Europe is looking east for protection (but not invasion), and some fourteen US States (the last time I looked) were insolvent.

Big is not efficient: it is slow, corrupt, lazy, expensive, unproductive, amoral and above all soul-destroying for a tribal pack-species.

Have you heard any politician in the UK election airing these realities?

For me, the answer would be “no” (or even “non”) but then I haven’t taken a great deal of interest beyond the manifestos. An American tweeter garnered much praise this week by referring to the Maypole dancing thus far as “parochial”, but I think that is much too lenient.

I would rather say that the issues raised in the election to date are barely scratching the wrong surface….no more that that. We are in the state we are as a nation because our Establishments have this decidedly odd habit of insisting that we need to be global and European, but then spending 95% of the time ignoring the moral, fiscal and economic consequences.

Because Nigel Guffawage wants to extract us from the EU, he is seen by many as the only one worthy of a vote…and in a tactical sense, they may well be right. But Nigel isn’t going to change the face of British political life or economic direction. He used to be an investment banker. He is an ineluctable (and hopefully unelectable) part of the Establishment’s Upstairs Downstairs soap. He merely wants promotion to the post of Head Butler.

The downsize to commercial communitarianism is coming. It will be an inevitable rejection, in the end, of a hopelessly failed experiment in trying to prove the baseless tenets of Theodore Levitt. The people you are about to aid and abet on May 7th are simply in the way of this process. That’s why – I repeat – they don’t deserve your support in any shape or form.

27 thoughts on “THE SATURDAY ESSAY: Why the 2015 UK election is an irritating noise, nothing more.

  1. Whether it’s the sons of the bent stock brokers or the socialists from hell – it’s all the same to most of us – abject hypocrisy.
    I only worry about the value of the pound in my pocket. They want to devalue it first, and then hunt it down in taxes.
    Two fingers to them all.


  2. There are two basic fallacies with politics and government to day. The first is that, using a compass analogy, Labour and Tory are deemed to be East and West, polar opposites (OK, that would make them North and South, but East and West sounds better) while the reality is that they both point Southish with barely 20 compass degrees between them at most. Hence the appropriateness of the LibLabCon appellation.

    The second fallacy is that government actually works. We know that it can make economies better and provide solutions to important problems, like improving education, heath care, social provision, etc. But the reality is generally that it doesn’t, more often it makes them worse.


  3. Pingback: John Ward: Why the 2015 UK Election Is Irritating Noise, Nothing More | Raging Bull-shit

  4. As an addendum to your (I believe correct) statement concerning USA bankruptcy….. It should also be noted that the Mexican demographic in the southwestern states will soon become Mexican majority states !
    As by most accounts they still see these states as part of Mexico (as historically they were)….. Is it possible that they might break away from the USA ? It is certainly a possibility since the Federal government seems to offer them little of note and they do appear to work…. Those not involved with the Mexican drug cartels anyway !


  5. An excellent essay Mr Ward. Am I alone in remembering countless articles in the late seventies and early eighties talking about the nirvana of leisure we would all enjoy as technology removed the drudgery of work from our lives? Our greatest problem was going to be how to fill all our time. I must have been hopelessly naive to imagine that all the gains from the new tech would not be grabbed by the corporate elites at the expense of everyone else. It really is beginning to look as though soon technology will be able to replace humanity in almost every aspect of the economy and then what will the elites need us “useless eaters” for? Maybe Radical Marijuana on Zerohedge has it right when he describes society’s controllers as the best organised criminals backing their increasingly preposterous lies with increasingly obvious violence. Perhaps only collapse will loosen the grip of the psychopaths. Chris Hedges’ book “The Death of the Liberal Class” is a masterclass in the techniques employed by the elites as they systematically dismantled all of the checks on their power.


    A short essay detailing how the banksters are taking over the world.
    Featuring the BIS, the central bankster’s central bank, which, strangel, is shaped like Orwell’s” Boot Stamping on the face of Humanity Forever”
    Well worth a read.

    Google: Bill Still The Money Masters, a 3.5 hour documentary on banking.

    John Doran.


  7. Waste of time not voting … time is out for me and similarly the time is out for them … never voting again either.

    Refuse to communicate with them now also as a pointless act where diplomacy does not work if two sides are not anywhere near equal (that massive rift in standards once more)and we are not. Therefore the dominant argument always has to have their own way and that dominant bullying of a minority upon a majority are the TRUE TERRORISTS anything else is only a response to this so terrorists DO NOT BOTHER ME ONE BIT.

    We are at this point now because the elites will not go, they will never go and the demand more, so much more.
    If you want anything different to this, this is the wall that must be totally destroyed and anything that supports maintaining this wall.

    NVE and only by a name for the category the minority created in thei manipulation of the economy / society to benefit them and all those things I believe are so wrong. If they had not behaved as they have as an NVE I would never existed would I?

    Imagine equality, telling politicians / bankers you can only earn the minimum wage like everybody else and watch the response!


  8. a great essay saying it all once again JW. the al capone gang calling themselves elites and having lost touch with any humanity they may once have possessed are rapidly moving towards exterminating us useless mouths that need feeding.
    So the fight for humanity is on and i suggest that we refuse pointless austerity and embrace refutation of all debt. it never was anything to do with the vast majority of us.


  9. The only image I see when I look at government (and it applies to all) is: Ever increasing legislation to continue the enrichment of the undeserving elite and ensure the continuing serfdom for the masses.
    Repeat at leisure.


  10. To protect yourself against Mad May 7, hedge your bets. A coalition of the Left (Labour/ Libdem/ SNP) is 20-1 at Ladbrokes. The only other alternative that adds up to 326 seats is, wait for it, 66-1, is a Conservative/ SNP coalition (take no notice of Sturgeon’s denial). ‘ Have you heard any politician in the UK airing these realities?!’


  11. The government get what it pays for, if it did not want this BS it would change it. So F..k them all, have not voted since 1979.


  12. When something has to change, it will.
    I remember the 60s and 70s. trade Union leaders who were not really voted for by the workers, had a stranglehold on everything. Weak politicians and weak factory owners did nothing to stop them. We were poorer in those days than we are now, and fooled ourselves with high inflation to disguise our misery. Thatcher came out of the blue and changed everything, and then overstayed her welcome, fooled by the City of London and the political dinosaurs.

    There has been plenty of opportunity to crush the banking oligarchs, but no Thatcher equivalent from the left has appeared -or seems likely to. Despite the middle classes being wiped out, if it were proved that election results were systematically rigged, nobody would do anything about it. If it were remotely suggested that they will never get their pensions, they would just shrug their shoulders. The middle classes think they have too much to lose if they protest, and maybe they are right. Perhaps the youth, with no careers and no jobs, will figure out what has to be done. Perhaps even a military or religious backlash, who knows.
    Breaking into smaller units is one way to erode power, and make it local enough to be accountable. I hope England, Wales, Scotland and N.Ireland break away from London, and I hope we all break away from Europe.

    I suspect that any near-future hardline dissension in the UK, Europe or USA will not get popular support because of the fear of the unknown, so in the meantime we have to work within the system. Probably not this election -but hopefully the next- might see enough independent candidates disgusted with central office selection of ugly placement stooges, standing on their own. A two-stage election procedure to narrow down independents into a couple of choices would help momentum.

    It is now clear that all (western at least) governments have been corrupted, and have no respect for the law, ethics or morality. Maybe things just change very slowly, or maybe Cameron, Clegg, Miliband are the best that we could find.


  13. Yes, absolutely. The election is a sideshow, as our politicians are almost powerless.
    Meaningful economic growth in UK, as well in the West as a whole is a thing of the past, to be replaced by figures both inflated by unsustainable immigration and borrowing, and outright fiddled to put the best gloss on the harsh truth.
    Our politicians are little more than figureheads to put a brave face on world economic events and globalisation. They cannot deliver on either economic growth or increased spending.
    It will make absolutely no difference whether Miliband or Cameron ends up being Prime Minister – neither will be in control of the country. Only four more weeks of this tedium!


  14. I too remember the 70s and 80s John, and you’ve left out half the story: chronic under-investment in plant and equipment in favour of extracting as much profit as possible out of poor products while the Japanese and Germans made the most of it, (e.g. Triumph, British Leyland, Vauxhall before GM vs Honda, Suzuki, Nissan, Volkswagen etc.), wholesale asset stripping (Slater Walker and the like) to extract profit out of near-obsolete property and equipment rather than making better stuff, and poor, unimaginative, accountancy-driven management, hell bent on sweating the dwindling assets and poaching other people’s trainees rather than training themselves. That, along with greedy unions, is why so much of British industry is now foreign owned. In the end it was short-sighted British management and privatisation-driven government that ultimately gave up and signed those ‘agreements of sale’ or just shut up shop and sold the assets, not the agressive unions they couldn’t manage.


  15. “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”
    – Goethe

    “Politics is the shadow cast on society by big business”
    – John Dewey

    “Government is an assosiation of men who do violence to the rest of us”
    – Count Leo Tolstoy

    “Power is not a means, it is an end.
    One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution;
    one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.
    The object of persecution is persecution.
    The object of torture is torture.
    The object of power is power.”

    – George Orwell

    “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism
    because it is a merger of state and corporate power”

    – Giovanni Gentile who wrote the
    entry in the Encyclopedia Italiana Mussolini, however, affixed his name
    to the entry, and claimed credit for it.



  16. ” . . . which left the biggest age demographic in history without interest rates upon which to live….and decimated their consumption power.”

    “The Council of Mortgage Lenders estimates that borrowers have collectively saved around £100 billion over the past five years. . . .
    A study by McKinsey estimated that savers lost a cumulative £66 billion in interest between 2007 and 2012.”


  17. Pingback: John Ward – The Saturday Essay : Why The 2015 UK Election Is An Irritating Noise, Nothing More – 5 April 2015 | Lucas 2012 Infos

  18. I have made my “voite” to express ny opinion of the alleged govrtnmrntal(case) of United Kingdom Of Great Britain Plc.

    I have removed myself from the voting register and despite threats of imprisonment and or fines will NOT be re-registering as chatel property of the corporation.

    By de-registering from the electoral role I have expressed all I have to say.

    As for the alleged “debt” that the people owe , it is a FRAUD. I never borrowed the money and I dont owe anyone any money. So why should I be made to pay?

    When did I give my consent to any of this bailout/austerity FRAUD?

    The fraudulent debt will NOT be paid off. It will be INCREASED untill the country is reduced to debt slavery capable of paying the interest ONLY.



  19. Apparently – allegedly… Mortgages taken out after 1989 are fraudulent and therefore null and void. There has been a landmark case whereupon Michael O’Bernicia has proven fraud in the mortgage industry, and has self funded a documentry or shockumentary about it.” The Great British Mortgage Swindle. ”
    What with whiterabbiteducation from Simon Spaniard, the WeRe bank from Peter of England and Michael O’ Bernicia ‘s expose of the mortgage fraud…. I think we could say that the banking cabal and the establishment may have too many hot potatoes to handle.


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