All over, bar the shouting.
Well the 2015 election is almost at a close. My worst fears have been realised. Another five years of smug Conservative rule, detrimental to the NHS, the youth of Britain, and the lot of the ordinary working person. The Liberals have paid the price for accepting to be in coalition with the Tories. They have lost almost all their seats, and their leader has resigned. As a political force in this country, they have ceased to exist.
Labour have also been punished. They elected a leader who had no personality, no leadership skills, and failed to connect with anyone, even his own party’s most ardent supporters. Writing off the surge of nationalism in Scotland has all but wiped that party off the map there, and many of the highest placed and most experienced Labour members have lost their seats. The few gains they did make were not enough to leave them in credible opposition, which will now depend on reluctant alliances with former ‘enemies’, and still not muster enough votes to force any defeats.
Scotland has spoken. Despite not taking the opportunity for complete independence in the recent referendum, the Scottish people have voted overwhelmingly for nationalism, by returning all but three members as representatives of the Scottish National Party. This country is now divided politically, if not by physical borders. UKIP failed to capitalise on their supposed popularity. By concentrating on a single issue, immigration and fear of foreigners, they lost their way. Even their leader failed to win a place in parliament, and resigned accordingly.
Miliband has also resigned as Labour leader. This is a prime example of too little, too late. He should never have been there in the first place, and Labour deserve the ignominy of defeat for ever thinking he could win them an election. Socialism in any form is now almost non-existent in this country. The defeated parties will move further to the Right, in the hope of attracting support, and the voters seem to have already moved there. The much-lauded youth vote failed to make any difference whatsoever, despite some increases in turnout.
Not only has Cameron won, he has managed to force the resignation of the three leaders of the main opposition parties on the same day. No wonder he is looking very pleased with himself. He has a working majority, and no credible opposition to have to worry about.
I now have to continue to live in another Right-Wing European country, run by the men in suits, for the benefit of international financiers, multi-national companies, the rich, and the aristocracy. Is Cuba accepting migrants, I wonder?
A Damp Squib
After all the hype and anticipation about the right-wing UK Independence Party (UKIP), they failed to win the Newark by-election this week. Despite a good showing in local council elections, and success in elections for the European Parliament, (which they oppose?) it seems that they cannot capture the imagination of the public sufficiently to gain a proper parliamentary seat in Westminster.
Their two most publicised policies, of Immigration Control, and departure from the EU, may be popular in modern day Britain. However, their other policies, those rarely discussed, do not stand up to scrutiny. Luckily, it appears that would-be Nationalists and protest voters have looked behind the populist smoke-screen, and let their consciences decide. The dismemberment of the NHS, the eventual erosion of the Welfare State, possible forced repatriation of non-Britons, and other Right-wing policies are not really palatable to the mostly conservative (small C) general public.
During a week of celebrations of the 70th anniversary of D-Day, and the war against the Nazis, and other far-Right regimes, it would have been inappropriate, to say the least, to see a Nationalist elected into Parliament. Despite a reduced Conservative majority, Labour pushed into third place, and the derided Liberals in their worst showing ever, UKIP failed to secure this seat, at the time when their wave was riding its highest. All the fear and panic prior to the election turned out to be unfounded. This country does not appear to be swinging madly to the Right, as many (including me) feared.
Commonsense prevailed, at the eleventh hour. As it often does here.
Goodbye to all that
Apologies to Robert Graves, for stealing his title.
After the election in 1945, the introduction of the Welfare State rightly made Britain the envy of the Developed World. Decent medical care, irrespective of income, in state owned and run hospitals, was then unknown over most of the planet. This included the newly-emerged Communist states at the time, who boasted as much, but failed to deliver. Add to this unemployment benefits at a realistic level, the birth of comprehensive education, improved working conditions and union recognition, and we should have witnessed the beginnings of Utopia.
It was a great thing though, easily overlooked in our modern consumer age, where so much is taken for granted. For the first time, the working people were offered hope, and a positive future. They were to be treated fairly, and their children would have the same chances in life, as those of the Aristocracy, and The Rich. In theory. This was an unrealistic expectation of course. Despite many children from poor backgrounds being able to attend university, become teachers, scientists, poets, and writers, they still had no power. With that lack of power was the attendant absence of influence, and the inability to change the status quo. It was impossible to escape their working-class backgrounds, and to make any real progress.
This came later, with the Closed Shop, and the power of the growing Trades Union movement. Government mandarins, faceless bureaucrats, and wealthy private businessmen and landowners, began to feel the sting of the organised masses. For the first time since the General Strike in 1926, ordinary, hard-working people, from coal miners, to those working on car production lines, could call the shots, and tell the bosses how things were going to happen. Power cuts were the response to refusal to negotiate. Uncollected rubbish was the weapon of the low paid dustmen, and no public transport was the unsheathed sword of the train drivers, and bus company employees.
The Establishment, and the newspapers and television companies that they owned, or ran, were outraged. Big business and the governments of the day, Labour, or Tory, didn’t know whether to call the workers’ bluff, or capitulate entirely. They did both in turn, and neither worked. The people, and their unions, continued their offensive against the middle classes, and the powerful businesses that still wanted to deny them equality. Once a dustman received a 10% increase in pay, a shorter working week, and an additional week of holiday entitlement, he was supposed to shut up, and go away. After all, he was only an uneducated manual worker, so why did he think he deserved to live on a par with the privileged, or for that matter, the Intelligentsia?
Personal attacks became the order of the day. Individual trade unionists were smeared, their private lives and finances spread all over the press. They were called ‘Red’ this or that, and there were increasingly desperate attempts to implicate them with imagined Russian plans to overthrow the West. If only. Later, with an increasingly frightened Right-Wing government in power, new laws were introduced, in an attempt to curb union rights. Flying pickets were outlawed, so no worker could show solidarity with another by supporting their strike. Trade Union funds were sequestered, robbing them of the ability to properly represent their members, while their leaders’ salaries were widely publicised, in the (successful) hope of alienating them further from the burgeoning, home-owning middle classes that were fast becoming the majority. When the salaries of London Underground drivers approached £30,000 a year, outraged commuters appeared on the evening news, declaring that these people who got them into work, at all times, in all weathers, in archaic conditions, on unsocial rotas, were not worth the same money as them.
Class rules in Britain; not fairness, equality, or even commonsense. Someone who has been to university, or works in a City financial institution, or owns their own business, simply cannot abide the fact, that a potentially poorly-educated train driver, or tradesman, could (or should) ever earn anywhere near the same salary as them. They were happy to see them dragged down, and for their unions to have their teeth pulled. Served them right, for getting ‘above their station’. Above these disgruntled Middle Classes, the Rich, and the Upper Classes were looking down themselves. They were equally disgusted at the uppity attitudes, not only of the workers, but of the bank clerks, office workers, and junior managers. They were owning their own houses, sending their children to private schools, and even buying private health insurance, so they could attend the same clinics as their ‘betters’. Who did they think they were?
By 2010, the plan was set. With the help of the weak and ineffectual Liberals, the Real Tories finally got power. These were not the Wets of the post Thatcher era, not even the Thatcherite hawks of the late 1970’s. These were the real power, the Old Power, that has always been here. It just went away for a while. Money, Land, Public School, Oxford and Cambridge, Eton, Harrow, and a few others; not forgetting the Military, the Civil Service, and the Aristocracy. They finally showed their hand, and it was a full house. The bluff was called, and this time by those with the clout to call it. We can weep, we can wail, and we can moan and gripe. They don’t care. We can mutter angrily, or murmur in disdain, even shout out furiously. They don’t care. They have snared the people, in a spiral of debt, lack of hope, and the Valium of trash TV and an outrageously biased press. The future has been pulled out from the workers’ feet, and that of their children, like the tablecloth in a magician’s trick.
Goodbye to benefits, goodbye to fairness, goodbye to hope for the disabled, to careers, education, and eventually, the NHS.
Goodbye to the Welfare State, equality, freedoms, employment rights. Goodbye to all that.