The Search for Change 254

The linked long term phenomena of falling electoral turnout and a decreasing percentage of those who do vote, voting for the two main parties, leaves politicians in power with the active support of an increasingly small minority of the population. To date this has not seriously impacted on consent – the Majority are apathetic, and devoid both of interesting sources of useful political information, and of social cohesion. Membership of organisations of horizontal solidarity is also in long term decline.

I would love to see an attempt at long term quantification of the difference between the parties in terms of the manifesto policies they offer. I have no doubt that there will be a very sharp reduction in difference, or rather policy convergence between the parties. If you look at 1911 – social insurance, pensions, power of the hereditary aristocracy, 1945 – nationalisation of major industries, initiation of the NHS and full welfare state, and 1983 – privatisation, nuclear weapons – there were very real and sharp political differences that offered voters a distinct ideological choice. The country – and your own future – could be recognisably different dependent on for whom you voted.

The last two times our government changed parties, the new party came in to pledge to continue the fiscal measures already projected by the treasury under its predecessors. Anyone who believes the Treasury would be fundamentally different under Balls or Osborne is delusional, and responding to tribalism not real difference. Who introduced tuition fees? New Labour. Who accelerated the “marketization” of the NHS? New Labour. Who vastly expanded PFI? New Labour. Who bailed out the banks? New Labour.

In effect, the parties offer exactly the same neo-con policies. NATO, Trident, Occupation of Afghanistan, Privatisation, Tuition Fees – the only apparent alternative at the last election came from the Lib Dems, and the electorate grasped at it in larger numbers than a third party had ever received before, something we have quickly forgotten. The reason that we have forgotten it is that Clegg, who was never any kind of Liberal, dumped the entire radical heritage of his party as soon as he came to power.

There is a much wider point to what happened to the Lib Dems. Two other changes – the introduction of PR for the European Parliament, and the large increase in expenses for MP’s staff – had made a radical change to that party. Lib Dem conferences were suddenly places of power dressing, not woolly jumpers. A great many young professional politicos – MPs research assistants, and staffers from Brussels – were all over the place. Bright, presentable, highly paid, most of them had no connection with liberalism, had never read John Stuart Mill or Hazlitt, had no idea who Lloyd George was and cared less. They had latched on to a rung of paid political work, had become part of the political class – that was the entire purpose of their activity. The woolly jumpered chap who had campaigned about paving stones in Salisbury and passionately wanted to abolish Trident and adopt green energy became sidelined, an amusing anachronism, the subject of the jokes of the sophisticates.

Of course, their focus groups showed that the people want policies which the ever shrinking ownership of the mass media promotes, because they are the only policies they have ever heard of. But the people no longer trust the ownership of the media, and the expenses scandal caused a much-needed scepticism of the appalling political class. People are desperate for leaders who look honest and say something different.

So do not despise UKIP supporters. They are not vicious racists. They are in fact brighter than those stupid enough to continue voting for the three neo-con parties, despite having their lives crippled for the next three decades to pay unconceivable sums to the bankers. The UKIP voters at least wish to punish the political class and wish to hear of some different policies.

The problem is that the only alternative of which the mainstream media is prepared to inform them is Mr Farage and his simple anti-foreigner maxims. Many of the bankers are keen to leave the EU, as Nigel Lawson told us. So if people want an alternative, that is the one they will be offered. Only in Scotland have people been offered a more radical alternative – and while I do not wish to exaggerate the economic radicalism of the SNP, they are markedly to the left of Westminster on issues like tuition fees, healthcare and PFI.

The great question of the day is, how to put before the population, in a way that they will notice, a radical alternative other than simple right wing populism. I have a strong belief that there remains a real desire in society for a more social policy, for a major and real check on the huge divergence between rich and poor, for good public services, for a pacific foreign policy, and for leaders not just in it for the money or to promote wealthy interests. But how do you get that message to people?


From comments made, there must be an ambiguity about this article which I don’t see myself. I made this clarification in a comment and I add it here for certainty:

Of course UKIP are not a real alternative. I said “do not despise UKIP supporters”, not “do not despise UKIP”. UKIP are a false “alternative” dangled by the mainstream media and the bankers. But the support for them is evidence that the public do very much want some alternative. I shall append this to the article as it must be more ambiguous than I thought.

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254 thoughts on “The Search for Change

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  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    They did their best to off D-Dawg after dispatching the other tool. This latest STFU moment with the associate being ‘questioned’ by the FBI has been dispatched, now we have the Wool hackers who have been shot and are in custody. Any chance we can find a survivor, closely aligned, so that we may connect the dots? Not much.

  • Cryptonym

    What I am saying is we have it: new fixed-term parliament legislation was passed in 2011, it is five years exactly, then there must be an election. The next general election, the date is already fixed, it is Thursday 7th May 2015. The coalition expect not to relinquish power until then.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Will be interesting to see if Captain Simon Hayward aka Captain James Rennie, who witnessed the horrific attack on the Household Cavalry back in July 1982, and went on become the 14 Intelligence Company South Detachment’s OP, will testify in any Downey trial.

    When his apparent associate, Derrick Bird aka Private Walnut and Soldier ‘C’ in the ambush of Francis Bradley – the lead-up to the assassination of Swedish statsminister Olof Palme in Stockholm on February 28, 1986 – was confronted with a new inquest into the Bradley murder, he went on that deadly rampage in Cumbria.

    Looks like here, any fireworks will be the work of the Provisionals.

  • April Showers

    Some icing on the cake by CNN. Note the triple killings the murdered man was supposed to be responsible for. And the name of the martial arts club.

    Man killed by FBI agent knew Tsarnaevs, tied to triple murder, source says
    By Michael Martinez. Tom Watkins and Susan Candiotti, CNN

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    Fancy the Times of Israel having a nugget not seen elsewhere, by me.

    ““(The FBI) took me and my friend, the suspect that got killed. They were talking to us, both of us, right? And they said they need him for a little more, for a couple more hours, and I left, and they told me they’re going to bring him back. They never brought him back,” Taramiv told the station.

    “He felt inside he was going to get shot,” Taramiv said. “I told him, ‘Everything is going to be fine, don’t worry about it.’ He said, ‘I have a really bad feeling.’”

    The FBI confirmed that the suspect was “deceased.””

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    Dreoilin @ 9:16

    I suspect that if T and D-Dawg were radicalized, Zubeidat is chief enabler. She strikes me as somewhat hysterical in everything I’ve read about her.

    The mother of the Tsarnaev brothers, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, also confirmed that her older son knew Todashev.
    In a telephone interview with the New York Times from Dagestan, Tsarnaeva said Todashev moved from Boston to Florida about two years ago. She said she is devastated to learn that he has been killed.
    ‘Now another boy has left this life,’ she told the newspaper. ‘Why are they killing these children without any trial or investigation?’

    Read more:
    Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

  • Dreoilin

    “I suspect that if T and D-Dawg were radicalized, Zubeidat is chief enabler. She strikes me as somewhat hysterical in everything I’ve read about her.”

    I didn’t notice anything hysterical about her, Ben. She’s a mother and they are her two sons. That’s all I noticed. But I wasn’t paying particular attention to her.

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    April @ 7:36

    From your BBC link

    “2102: In her statement, the home secretary refused to confirm or deny if the alleged Woolwich attackers were known to MI5 or the police.”

    Non-denial, denial.

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    I’ve been noting her since Boston, Dreolin.

  • Macky

    “The reason why I get so upset about many of the statements here”

    As a child of the sixties, my earliest “News” memory, was the announcing of the end of the Vietnam War; even at that tender age, I was struggling to understand why we in the “Capitalists” countries were so against people living in countries called ” Communists”, so against in fact that we were prepared to kill and/or die; it seemed totally bizarre that how one society decides to organize itself was of concern, never mind a dire threat to other differently organized societies; my child brain just couldn’t understand why people really need to actually kill each other over purely political matters /ideological reasons ?!

    At this time, the worst thing a person could be accused of was of being a “communist”, and the second was being called “a dirty communist sympathizer”; it was a message that was conveyed through the “News”, and movies, through Government spokesperson, etc, it permeated throughout society, you simply couldn’t be unaware of it. I particularly remembered how certain people would get very, very angry when speaking against “communists”, and I was left astounded that a) they could feel so intensely passionately about such an immaterial thing such as how other people chose to organise themselves, b) wars, mass killings, immense suffering, great injustices etc, hardly produced a peep from these very same “passionate” people. Only much later, did I notice that these very excitable, intensely passionate anti-communists, divided into two general groups, namely those who were obviously well situated in “capitalist” societies, so had a stake in demonizing any alternative, therefore competing system to their status-quo; then there was the second type, who just seemed possessed of an irrational loathing, hatred even, of anything that hinted at a potential of being a good working alternative, or heaven forbid, better way of living, than to what they were used. It became obvious to me that this second group were blighted by such low self-esteem that they needed to feel good about themselves by feeling that they had the best, were the best etc, in other words a psychological need to feel superior to mask the fact that they know they are not, which is where presumeably all this irrational passionate anger comes from.

    People like RD & the Habba-Clown, who are always getting “upset” at criticisms directed at how the West is & operates, coupled with their disturbing lack of empathy to the human carnage, indeed genocide, caused by how the West is & operates, remind me of the low self-esteem communist haters who only can feel so passionate over ideological issues for psychological reasons, but normal human empathy left them cold, as despite their protestations, their uncontrollable outbursts of ideological “upset” rather than “upset” over the genocides in Vietnam or Iraq, reveals what really makes them tick.

  • Jives

    Dreoilin at 7.27pm.

    Very good post.

    As undoubtedly horrific and contemptible as the Woolwich incident was,do the Powers That Be not understand if you invade/bomb/murder these far away lands for decades-or centuries-there will be inevitable blowback?

    Do they not understand the basic rules of cause and effect?

    John Reid is an ignoramus and bully boy.

    Bu$hCo,Blair,Straw,Hoon et al…don’t you see now what your lies have caused?

  • Fedup

    No sooner said than done EDL fuckwits are in Woolwich getting on with their hobby.

  • Jives

    Jack Straw’s denial of all knowledge about extraordinary rendition and torture seems to be now confirmed as hollow as the day he uttered it.

    So the “conspiracy theorists” were right all along Straw.

    How do you sleep Straw?

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    And don’t forget murdered GMP Chief Constable Mike Todd who was investigating Britain’s assistance of the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program, was lied to completely about it, and when he learned about about it, and started doing something about it, he was miraculously killed.

    You just can’t make this shit up.

  • resident dissident


    I can and do get upset about the abuses of the West. I too was against what the US did in Vietnam and Cambodia – which if you bother to look I have already made clear in comments here amounted to a war crime. I also opposed the US role in Chile and El Salvador – and I was none too keen on the role that the US played in arming various despots around the world (including Saddam at one time – although the Soviet Union was always his main supplier). And i have little argument with the condemnation of Israel for many of its abuses of human rights.

    I also have quite a lot of time for some communists e.g some of the Euro communists, and the many rank and file within the Soviet bloc who accepted the basic tenets of fairness and equality of that creed, which have some overlap with my own social democracy. You are right however that I have little time for those communists who have used their creed in order to justify the Soviet GULAG, the Ukrainian Holodomor, the invasions of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary or the countless abuses of the Chinese communists, and let us not forget the initial appeasement of Nazi Germany (something which they share with much of the British establishment)or how they destroyed the struggle against Spanish fascism. The hatred of this type of communism, which I share with the likes of Orwell and Koestler comes from my political heritage on the libertarian left rather than the irrationality to which you ascribe it.

    I also have an ability to understand that no one side has a monopoly on abusing human rights, genocide or terrorism – and that such things such be criticised whoever is the perpetrator. All of us have to form a view as to which political system we consider most likely to progress society and sustain human rights – my view is that social democracy offers the best alternative(if only because it presents us with the opportunity to do something about abuses of human rights), and your comments about lack of human empathy and supporting genocide speak volumes for you as a person rather than myself. But perhaps rather than criticising those who at least have an idea of where they would like to see the world going you might wish to enlighten us as to what is your alternative?

    PS your conflation of Ho Chi Minh and Saddam really speaks volumes – as far as I recall Ho didn’t start two wars against his neighbours, use WMDs, drive millions of people out of the country through fear and torture or openly espouse a fascist ideology.

  • resident dissident

    “It ought to be four years, as it is the convention across the world (with good reason too), there is no need for the extra year (this could effectively could lead to 2 years more in power for the incumbent upon wining a second term with the resulting complications thereof) .”

    It also ought to be four years because that is what was in the LibDem and Labour manifestoes at the last election – but we have been given a change to our electoral system than no one voted for, that is other than those LibDem members who voted for the coalition agreement at their Conference.

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    Would they ever voluntarily rescind permanent employment?

  • Fedup

    Would they ever voluntarily rescind permanent employment?

    This is taking the piss, right?

    Full employment in the current economic wisdom is ninety five percent employment, the plutocrats cannot afford 100 percent employment. The consequences of the labour shortage would be horrendous; so far as these are concerned.

    With a low skill, low Tech. economy; result of expectations of return on the capital employed many times over, as the old and worn out plant and machinery in use proves, coupled with a low skill labour force, and lack of investors (City institutions do like unusual returns from their investment outside UK). These all help to promote the current messed up situation.

    The surplus labour helps the policies of the plutocrats immensely. It has done so, ever since passing the poor act.


    In the other news:

    Newsnight is busy promoting more “security measures” ie even more of a police state, along with the curbs on the internet, censorship, email snooping, and teams of disinformation operatives spreading the “on message” whilst identifying those, whom do not subscribe to the “on message”

    Sky is busy fanning the flames of hatred towards Muslims, not so subtly, and discounting any of the clap trap about any connections to “war on Islam” foreign policy.

    Resultant of the hatemongering: mosques are getting attacked, and Muslims are getting their heads kicked in. Not a bad days work, already the news of the “results” are trickling in.

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)


    My reply was to RD @ 11:22

  • Cryptonym

    I’m reminded of a Spitting Image sketch. After a bomb in Oxford Street, Douglas Hurd bursts in on Mrs Thatcher, yelling “There’s been a bomb in Oxford Street, there’s been bomb in Oxford Street!”, to which Thatcher replies: “Well who’s responsible?” and Hurd replies “You are you dreadful old witch”

    Substitute Oxford Street for Woolwich, bomb for knife, Thatcher for Blair/Brown/Cameron etc.

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