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.
It seems to be the general view that the Tories (read Coalition) will lose the next election. The people of the UK are tired of recession, belt-tightening measures, and cuts in social security payments. Apparently. The Liberals are discredited, and consigned to some electoral wasteland, never to reappear as a force in British politics. The job market has been handed over to the employers, and no-hours contracts, no union agreements, and poor hourly rates are driving the popularity of the Tories into the ground. The leaders of that party are Public School has-beens with no integrity, and are simply lining their own pockets, and those of their friends. They are espousing the policies of the far Right, for fear of UKIP, and because of the general popularity of restrictions on immigration.
All of this may be true. Much of it is often quoted by Leftist thinkers and commentators, although the news media seems to have given up attacking the government, and even the BBC are now accused of a distinct, and uncomfortable to watch, Right-Wing bias. UKIP are shooting themselves in the foot, with their members exposed as former National Front and BNP supporters, and their elected officials are being revealed, in some cases, as little more than sexist or homophobic buffoons. The Greens have little significance, outside of some local protests about nuclear power, and as the Scots are unlikely to vote for independence, the SNP may make some noise, but will ultimately lose face.
So, where is the opposition? There is the actual Opposition, in the form of the Labour Party. It may just as well not be there. It has no forward-thinking policies, has completely abandoned Socialism, and even unashamedly admits that it will continue some present Tory policies, if it is lucky enough to be elected. There are no strong people in its shadow cabinet, and the real Left-Wing thinkers left in that party have no influence, and even less power. It is slowly dismantling its lifelong affiliation with the Trade Unions, and distancing itself from the old guard Labour politicians, and the few outspoken characters in its ranks.
Worst of all, it has a completely ineffectual leader. A man who has the presence of an awkward schoolboy, no talent at public speaking, and the charisma of a traffic warden. Miliband is the most ineffectual leader that Labour has ever had, and considering Kinnock, that takes some doing. He never comes across as genuine, whether he feels he is, or not. He has no qualities of a statesman, and even manages to make Cameron look like a man with gravitas and sincerity. His public appearances at photo opportunities look awkward and contrived, and anything he utters on camera sounds insincere, and lacks substance. In the Commons, he comes over like a sixth former in a debating society, smug at what he considers to be his triumphs, embarrassed and awkward when he loses the point of the argument. His ‘team’ sit around behind him and alongside him, looking as if they wished they weren’t there, and as if they must be ruing the day that they elected him as their leader.
If Labour do not shake themselves up before the next election, get back to communicating with the people, and choose a leader capable and worthy of leading the party to victory, then we will all lose. We won’t have a coalition as we do now, but instead we will have a re-energised, far-Right Tory government, elected on a platform of being anti-Europe, anti-immigration, and anti-people on benefits, and the unemployed. They will be pro-business, pro-financiers, and pro-the rich. Working peoples’ rights will be further reduced, and the country will descend into a new Victorian Age, of us and them, rich and poor. Labour owe it to their voters to be a real opposition, and not just one in name only. And they must get rid of Miliband, or face disaster in the polls.
It has been worrying me for some time now, and I feel that it is appropriate to ask the question. Is there any Left-Wing remaining in British politics? We used to have the ‘Loony Left’, the Labour Left, The Workers’ Revolutionary Party, Militant Tendency, The Socialist Workers’ Party, and The Communist Party, with all its various factions. There was the Young Communist League, The Morning Star Group, the Trotsky supporters, and the old-style Marxist-Leninist diehards. Some of these still exist. You can find websites on the Internet, see members selling newspapers and pamphlets, and notice their banners on TV news, waved by marchers, demonstrating against something or another. The Morning Star newspaper is still for sale, and has a modern website. There is even a Stalin Society. I was keen to join, but they didn’t reply to my e mailed request. It seems that it is too much trouble to be a revolutionary these days. Round up all the members and supporters of these various parties, and you would be pushed to fill the terraces of a second division football club with them. They have no impact, no influence, few policies, and no apparent agenda. Their leaders are anonymous, and constantly changing, and most of them have been eaten up by internal arguments, that have diluted them into oblivion. The days when the Establishment feared the wrath of the organised Proletariat, and their strong Trades Unions, are long gone.
There was a time, not so long ago, and certainly within my recent memory, when the Left had a fierce commitment, and a hunger for real change. They had radical ideas and beliefs, and swore to change the status quo, if and when in power. The rhetoric is now about wind farms, nuclear power stations, global warming, third world sweat shops, and the rights of farmers in countries most Britons couldn’t find on a map. What about the re-nationalisation of railways, utilities, banks, and industry? Never mentioned. Getting out of Europe, and abandoning NATO, has become a policy of the extreme Right, after it was discarded by the Left, and found lying around, waiting to be picked up, and re-packaged for general consumption. Wealth taxes on the rich and powerful, the abolition of the House of Lords and the Royal Family, getting American bases off our soil. Where are those policies? Gone; though sometimes partially embraced by powerless splinter groups, and more worryingly, the burgeoning Right.
In Britain, we are seeing a return of Right-Wing politics at a rate unseen since in Italy and Germany in the 1930’s, and driven by much the same fears and reasoning too. Fear of job losses, fear of foreign investment and ownership, and fear of things non-British. Add to this fear of different religions, against a background of ‘Crusader’ involvement in Muslim countries, and the firework has been well and truly lit. An economic slump has opened the back gate to the worst kind of sneaky rightists. UKIP, Old-School Toff Tories, Right-leaning Liberal Democrats, and even most of the (new) Labour Party, are all embracing the politics of the Right. Some are more outgoing and extreme, such as the League of St George, Column 88, and The English Defence League. Others, formerly considered extreme beyond the pale, like National Front supporters, are now merging into parties like UKIP, and The Conservative Party, and melting happily into the background.
The media has all but abandoned any support for the Left, in any form. Despite laughable accusations of Left-wing bias, the BBC continues to tread carefully, fearful of its licence money, and dreading being handed over to commercialisation. All other television provided for mainstream viewing is either cosily neutral, or blatantly conservative, albeit with a small C. The newspapers are virtually all speaking for the Right, and the worst ones are fuelling the fires of xenophobia, as well as religious hatred, and spewing out propaganda against the disadvantaged and poorly educated in our society. The possible exception, The Guardian, speaks for the well-heeled middle-class intelligentsia, salving their consciences during their morning commute. The Morning Star has such a small circulation, it would be pushed to compete with a regional newspaper in a small town. Even that supposed voice of the Left, seems more concerned with the internal struggles of Communist factions, and is preaching to the more-or-less converted anyway.
The Trades Unions are still here, but they are no longer a force to be reckoned with. Years of amalgamation have turned them into unrepresentative monoliths, that have lost sight of their members as individuals, and seem to have forgotten the essence of the trades and skills that they are supposed to defend and protect. Hamstrung by changes in the law, they have played along, having their industrial teeth pulled one by one. Their political affiliations have diminished, and the Labour Party, that they were most associated with, is trying to sever ties with them, fearful of continued association with an organised workforce; embarrassed to stand alongside them and fight for the rights of ordinary people. Their leaders have become powerful and wealthy in their roles, detached and distant from a membership they treat like sheep. The only real alternative to another Conservative government, which would surely move even further to the Right in politics, is, whether I like it or not, the Labour Party. Now far removed from its roots, and unrecognisable to the activists who moulded it during the 1970’s, it is no longer a party of the Left. Its leader is an ineffectual bureaucrat, and its cabinet have no real policies. They have even revealed that many of the policies of the present coalition would be unchanged under a Labour administration, and that some of the cruellest changes, in health provision, and welfare reform, would also be upheld. In that case, the Labour Party is no longer a worthwhile, or even desirable alternative.
It seems likely that the very definition Left, relating to political affiliations, will soon cease to be used, and not long after, cease to exist. Left-Wing, Leftist, and any similar descriptions, will be consigned to the history books, to be viewed with mild interest as a thing of the past, sometimes with a wry grin of amusement. I like to think of my own politics as those of the extreme Left. Old-school, hard-line Communism, like something that once existed, but no longer does, or ever will again. The only place for this now, is inside my head, as I conclude that there is no Left left.
If the current news remains unchanged, it looks like the German people have voted in the same party, for another four year term. It is a right-wing party, with accordant views on immigration and Europe, and with strong industrial and financial policies. The Right is once again on the move in Germany. Especially in the area that was formerly East Germany, extreme right groups are flourishing, and racism is their creed once more. They are led by a government with a white Christian base, and old-fashioned, conservative ideals and beliefs, backed by big business, and the Church. Nationalism, and domination of the European economy, appear to be their main goals, and they are prepared to ally themselves to almost any other faction, to achieve power.
Look up ‘Communism’ in WordPress, and you will find some really crazy blogs. With notable exceptions, they are all vehemently anti-Communist. Many are written by anti-Castro Cubans, and more by extreme Right groups, or Christian fundamentalists. What really grabs you, are the insane ideas and suggestions, all presented as facts.
Someone calling himself ‘holidayperspective’, from Denmark, believes that Communists are better treated than Nazis, despite the fact that they might have been responsible for more deaths in History. He uses evidence of hat badges to support this. See for yourself here; http://hollidayperspective.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/national-socialism-vs-communism/
This next genius uses the fact that the star symbol is used in many non-Communist countries as proof that they are all actually Communists. He includes all the EU, and America in this. Have a look ; http://peoplethinkthat.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/communism/
Check out this Texan lady, who asserts that Obama is a Marxist, and Muslime (sic) usurper SOB. What goes on inside her head, I wonder? http://newtgingrichforpresident2012.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/dhs-extinguishes-197-million-peoples-4th-amendment-rights-in-constitution-free-zones/
Another American, this time seriously discussing his ‘proof’ that Hitler was not Right-Wing, and was in fact, a Communist! I presume that he does not like his own Right-Wing views to be associated with Nazis. Tough. See what you think; http://whatdidyousay.org/2013/08/06/achtung-hitler-and-history-lies-weve-been-told/ Here is another post from the same man, claiming that Muslims and Communists have already taken over America. He actually lives there, so he must see his world from a really different perspective to those of us outside the U.S. http://whatdidyousay.org/2013/08/05/the-u-s-has-already-been-taken-over-by-muslims-communists/
Here’s another old favourite, the contention that Jews and Bolsheviks are one and the same, so Zionism and Communism are serving the same purpose. Does he really think that the modern state of Israel, or the Orthodox Jews who extol Zionist beliefs, have anything in common with International Communism? http://uprootedpalestinians.wordpress.com/2013/08/05/bolshevism-and-zionism-are-ideologically-indistinguishable/
I could go on with this all night, but enough is enough. The great thing about Blogging, is that we are all free to write about anything, and to publish our opinions on any subject we choose. Irrespective of whether or not I agree with anyone, I like the fact that they can churn out this stuff to their heart’s content, and would support their right to do so, within reason. What does worry me though, is the constant representation of ideas as fact; with spurious, intangible ‘evidence’ presented to support this. I hope that the bloggers mentioned increase their readership a little, courtesy of these links. Do keep writing, all of you; just a bit less hysteria and paranoia presented as truth. Please.
And to all Americans who genuinely believe that you live in a country that is remotely Communist, or ruled by Muslim fundamentalists. You really need to get out more.
There has been the usual slight surge in political interest, in advance of the forthcoming local elections this week. Much is being written and said about the possible effect of UKIP, the UK Independence Party, and their recent showings at by-elections, and increasing popularity in ‘the polls’. They have policies which, at first glance, seem simplistically nationalistic, and completely harmless. Cleverly, they have a ‘something for everyone’ approach, meaning almost anyone can identify with at least one of their presented aims, or goals.
Even a hardened Lefty like myself, could find it easy to be wooed by their anti-European stance. They appear to have exactly the same issues with membership of the EU as I do, and like me, would get Britain out at the earliest opportunity. So, that ticked a box with me, and made me read further. Keep the Pound as a currency? I agree. No point going into the collapsing Euro, even a child could work that one out. Immigration? They must have a really right-wing position there, surely? Well, it is actually not unreasonable, when you look quickly. Given the removal from the EU, there would be provision for those settled here. Of course, new immigration would be tightly controlled, and those arriving would be expected to fend for themselves, without access to the state benefit system. Before you run around the room thinking this is outrageous, think of the immigration policies of Canada, The USA, Australia, and New Zealand. All of these places are considered to be humane democracies, yet all have much tougher policies than we have in the UK.
So far, so reasonable. Euro-tick. Pound-tick. Immigration-sort of- tick. Eu withdrawal-tick.
Then, I read some more.
Same sex marriage? No. Defence Policy? Still nuclear, with large standing armed forces, and increased Territorials. Aircraft carriers, Stealth aircraft, Cruise missiles, Navy to have a ‘global role’ to defend British Interests. NHS? They say it will remain under a UKIP administration. Read between the lines, and you will see it is significantly contracted out, part-privatised, and run primarily by local groups, without a national focus. They will also provide ‘more choice’, using various European models. In other words, better care if you can pay towards it. Not fooled by that one, Mr Farage. Reversal of hunting bans. It has taken my lifetime to see these barbaric and unnecessary sports outlawed. In one sweep, UKIP would allow them to be returned, dependent on local acceptance. This is no more than a sop to the rural communities, where they hope to take votes off the Tories. I could go on and on, relaying the numerous problems tucked away neatly inside the UKIP maifesto. This is just a flavour of what to expect if they ever get any real power. Taxation standardised, meaning less taxes for the rich, that is in there somewhere; as are increased Police powers, and more leeway for the Secret Services.
This is in the same document citing Norway and Switzerland as role models, for independent trading, and high standards of living. It seems that they fail to notice the irony in comparing their wish list to those two mostly docile, and non-belligerent nations. Nigel Farage is a compelling and convincing speaker, and an accomplished orator. He is undeniably intelligent and manipulative, and makes good use of incredibly effective propaganda. What we don’t see, is the extreme Right-Wing membership, the roots under his flourishing branches. This has been the natural bolt-hole for fascist and nationalist extremists since its foundation. The policies are all underpinned by racism, xenophobia, and the traditional British hatred of all foreigners. The real name of the party should be ‘White British First.’ Under the grey lounge suits, hide the black shirts of 1930’s politics.
If you sum it all up, it may start to sound familiar.
British first. Foreigners out. Strong Armed forces, protecting ‘British Interests.’ Restricted export markets, and control on imports. Strong Police and Security Services, and forced deportation of illegal immigrants and undesirables. A forceful leader, appealing to the rural community, the unemployed city dweller, and the disaffected youth.
Does that remind you of anywhere?