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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  • Sofia Zabalotna-Habbercake

    Resident Dissident. 4 43 pm

    Forgive me for assuming you had run away. Maybe you had detention too.

    Your more thoughtful piece has been well chewed over already by the regulars. Thanks.

    But I still want to respond.

    Ok. First of all where did you find all those straw men?

    I don’t recall accusing you of claiming “…democracy results in perfect outcomes.” I think I suggested that in the light of the evidence the British “democratic” state, and the West in general, behave in ways that lead to pretty dreadful outcomes for an awful lot of people.

    Neither do I recall suggesting resorting to “…nihilism or worse to argue your case”.

    As for “…many here are all too ready to defend and whose excesses such as flying airplanes into skyscapers or suicide bombers…..” I can only say WTF? And very loud too! Please show me where I can read these posts as I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.

    You claim other contributers ….. “ just offer a continuing series of links to demonstrate their loathing of their own society.” Are you not confusing the rejection of appauling and illegal behaviour with loathing our society. If not, some examples please?

    You say ….“most commenters here, who perhaps should reflect that in Iran there are currently 131 journalists and bloggers who have been imprisoned for expressing their views…..” Can you show me an example of a commenter here suggesting that Iran does’nt have human rights problems? ow would that compare with, for example Guantanamo? Do explain to me how the history of Western powers’ dealings with Iran have ever seriously tried to improve the lot of the Iranian people?

    Now I call that a crowd of straw men.

    Miss Trunchball would leave a lot of red ink in the margins. “RD tries hard but lacks proper insight and imagination. Makes too much up as he goes along. Attend remedial class after school every day next week. 3O%”
    I suggest you avoid her like the plague.

    For my part I would love to see a recognisable democracy in Britain, a country and society, many aspects of which, I love and respect. What I perceive is a sham, dressed up as a democracy, and carefully managed by a compliant press, political parties, judiciary and police force and other deep-state / corporate controlled agencies.

    As to the progress made in the New Labour years I can only ask what planet do you live on? Words really fail me here!

    And your patronising tone, “Many here don’t understand…”. What if it’s you who “don’t understand”?

    You seem to get genuinely upset that opinions counter to your own get expressed here.

    Well I feel upset that for every kilogram of explosives set off in the West every now and then by people of”muslim appearance” there are TONS OF HIGH GRADE EXPLOSIVES (sorry for shouting) detonated by Western people all over the muslim world every day. Please tell me who are really the greater terrorists? Or does the fact that they wear our uniforms and act under orders from our leaders mean that they just can’t be terrorists in RD World?

    Finally how can a state expect to be seen as an fine example of “democratic values” when it celebrates men like these as national heroes?,_1st_Baronet

    Goodnight all.

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    Fedup @ 12:18

    Confession is good for the soul, and I confess often.

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    Mark @ 12;26

    The power of intention, unfortunately, has a dark side.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Conflict

    “The mindset of violent jihadists is influenced by many different factors – but one common factor among those who have been involved in acts of politically-motivated violence is the basic principle that they oppose a Western presence in the Islamic world.” to me

    My lower order thought system has placed that paragraph in the ‘dumbest BBC statement’ box.

    Dear Dominic Casciani BBC News,

    May I present a retake, a snapshot of reality:

    “We have witnessed the worst crimes against humanity under law, perpetrated without respite – murder, assassination, deprivation of access to food , water and medicine, forcible transfers of population, torture, persecution, false imprisonment, enforced disappearances, plunder of public property, wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages.”

    The list is incomplete. It omits treason, subversion, deception and ‘guilty until never proved innocent.

    Violence begets violence.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Conflict


    Mr Hague said the case for the EU to amend its arms embargo, which would allow the international community to arm the rebels, was “compelling” – Independent

    A US Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 15-3 for legislation that would send arms to terrorists“vetted” moderate members of the Syrian opposition.

    Have we become too reliant on American security guarantees?

  • BrianFujisan

    Two things One BIG, but becoming more and more common in us police state. the other off the scales

    First Off the Scales and Good luck indeed Julian and Co

    Then there’s This Disgusting stuff, EXACTLAY as Fedup @ 11:55pm – Noted –
    ” In Other News…..

  • April Showers

    St Theresa of May was wearing black last night and was giving her statement (off an autocue?) with deep gravitas. She had been rehearsed. Her white make up gave her a witchlike appearance.

    She cannot wait for SOCA to be replaced in October with her National Crime Agency. National police force to follow in due course.

    He statement last night was in complete contrast to her ramblings here. Working hard, working hard, working hard for hard working people ad infinitum. LOL

    What a bunch over the last 20 years. Incompetents or thugs mostly.

    Michael Howard
    Jack Straw
    David Blunkett
    Charles Clarke
    John Reid
    Jacqui Smith
    Alan Johnson
    Theresa May

  • Kempe

    “You just can’t make this shit up. ”

    You seem to manage pretty well. In fact your quite good at it.

  • April Showers

    23 May 2013
    US confirms four American citizens killed by drones
    The US had revealed Awlaki’s death but had not publicly confirmed he was killed by a drone

    Related Stories
    First US drone launch from carrier Watch
    Robot warriors: Lethal machines coming of age
    Viewpoint: US media lax on drones

    The US attorney general has acknowledged four US citizens have been killed in drone strikes since 2011.

    ‘Awlaki, who was born in the US state of New Mexico, was killed in a missile strike from an unmanned plane in Yemen in September 2011. US officials announced his death but did not officially reveal he was killed by a drone.

    Samir Khan, a naturalised US citizen who produced an online magazine promoting al-Qaeda’s ideology, died in the same missile strike.

    Awlaki’s 16-year-old son Abdulrahman, who was born in Colorado, was killed in Yemen a month later.

    Jude Kenan Mohammad, a North Carolina resident with a Pakistani father and an American-born mother, was arrested in Pakistan in 2008 after trying to enter a part of the country that is dominated by militants and is off-limits to foreigners.

    He was charged with weapons possession and lacking the correct paperwork but disappeared after being granted bail.

    According to his acquaintances, Mohammad is thought to have died in a strike in November 2011 in Pakistan’s South Waziristan region, the New York Times reported.’

  • April Showers

    Sky News is like the Hammer House of Horrors this morning.

    May lurching from her car into No 10.

    Reid spouting his stuff about the Muslim war of terror against us!!

    Hollis reminding us that ‘these people’ are not on the radar just as the brothers in the Boston Marathon bombings were not known to the security services!

    All interspersed with footage from 7/7

  • MarkU

    An interesting set of responses to my comment, mainly reasonable though mainly missing the point that I intended to make, my fault mainly, I should have expressed myself better. I will try again.

    Why have UKIP done so well in recent elections?

    My hypothesis.

    Globalisation has done no favours to the majority of the British populace. Our country has been, and is still being, de-indusrialised with a resulting loss of job opportunities. The ready availability of cheap labour from abroad has reduced the relative bargaining position of British workers.


    A Chinese or Indian workers wages would not even cover the rent on social housing in the UK, how can it be fair to expect us to compete on the world markets on an equal basis?

    Are we expected to be a de-industrialised country in perpetuity?

    Why is it considered indecent for working class brits to have self interest, everyone else is allowed some?

  • Macky

    @RD, the fact that you used the term“abuses of the West”, is indicative of the problem I have with people of your mindset; even disregarding the fact that the wealth/standard of living etc of the West today is largely founded on the bloodstained spoils of colonialism, where even little countries like Belgium & Portugal caused genocide & lingering mass misery, to describe the post WW2 Western violence unleashed against the people of the developing world, Vietnam, Iraq, being just two of many examples , as mere “abuses, is a self-serving ideological whitewash.

    True to your New Labour Creed, you imitate Blair by invoking the Humanitarian twist on Godwin’s Law,in being unable to not to mention the Hitler-like anti-Christ personification of ultimate evil, the name Saddam; yet back in the real world, in the hell on earth now called Iraq, we have even the bitterest of Saddam’s opponents telling us that we have made them cry for the days of Saddam; you also can’t resist having a dig at the Russians for selling conventional arms to Iraq, but are startling silent on the fact that the US and Britain sold Saddam the technology and materials Iraq needed to develop nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction; you even have the blinkered cheek in your PS to accuse Saddam of starting two wars, omitting that he was egged on & used by the West against Iran, & then tricked/deceived into going into Kuwait; and as to the millions driven out of Iraq through fear & torture, you must be getting your time frames confused, as this only happened after Iraq was attacked by the West.

    Re the fixation with Russia & China, the red-herring tendency of people like yourself, to keep referring back to the barbarism of historical totalitarian governments, in an obvious attempt to deflect criticism of CURRENT Western barbarism, is another indication that your emotions only fire up for ideological rather than true humanitarian concerns.

    “what is your alternative?”

    Real simple, treat everybody as you would want to be treated yourself; the West can start by doing some old fashion honest trading for other countries valuable commodities, instead of either taking by force, or through the use of corrupt & blood-soaked puppet dictators.

  • Komodo

    “Point is revolutions are for people with no food in their bellies not for people who holiday in Florida. Being more prosperous is important if it means not being hungry but not if it just means buying more Buckie.

    Successful revolutions are driven by need not by greed.”

    That at any rate has an element of truth. But the revolution is usually incited by the bourgeois as they approach the state at which the underclass has long existed. By the time everyone’s starving, no-one’s got the strength to revolt.

    Anyway, we’re not really talking about a revolution, are we? Just the right of a country to manage its own affairs. And I know for a fact that the SNP is formally committed to nonviolence, so relax.

  • April Showers

    Mayor of London Boris Johnson is attending the Cobra meeting in Whitehall. On his way in he says: “It is completely wrong to blame this killing on the religion of Islam. But it is also equally wrong to try to draw any link between this murder and British foreign policy, or the actions of British forces who are risking their lives abroad for the sake of freedom. !!

  • Fred

    “Anyway, we’re not really talking about a revolution, are we? Just the right of a country to manage its own affairs. And I know for a fact that the SNP is formally committed to nonviolence, so relax.”

    All we know about the SNP is that they tell lies. Scotland not only manages their own affairs they manage everyone else’s as well. Back in 2003 when we declared war on Iraq it was down to Blair, his deputy Brown and the support of the opposition led by IDS. All three Scottish yet on these very pages we see the Nationalist fanatics blame it on the English.

    We know that the SNP formulate their policies not round their beliefs but round what is most likely to win independence. The ex RBS energy consultant pall of Souter is not actually a Socialist, he just knows that support for independence is greater among the working classes. If they win independence, or more likely when they lose the referendum, we don’t know what they are going to do.

  • Komodo

    Fred, if you’d ever doorstepped for any political party, you’d know (unless you spent your time with your fingers in your ears going lalalala – not recommended for canvassers) that all political parties tell lies in order to get elected. Even yours, whatever it is. Another argument against the party system.

    You do seem to have this visceral hatred of the SNP and Salmond, though. Was your mother frightened by Wendy Wood when you were an embryo? Or is it just because the working class is keener on the SNP than on patrician twat George Osborne?

  • Macky

    “But it is also equally wrong to try to draw any link between this murder and British foreign policy, or the actions of British forces who are risking their lives abroad for the sake of freedom.”

    Wow, two lies in one breath !

    So the Boris the Buffoon doesn’t think this is a terrorist attack despite attending a Counter-terrorism Cobra meeting, and presumably when viewing footage of the guy with bloodied meat cleaver, speaking the words “”We must fight them as they fight us. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.I apologise that women have had to witness this today, but in our land our women have to see the same” & “Tell them to bring our troops back so you can all live in peace”, he had his fingers in both ears, going “lalalala”

    Beyond belief he has the front to speak such nonsense in public.

  • April Showers

    The BBC have had this sweetie in the studio explaining that community cohesion is the watchword. Dept of War Studies, Kings College. That says it all.

    Where she has been and what she has done.

    She was followed by Milord West ex Chief of the Naval Staff and Brown’s Minister for Security and Counter Terrorism would like to see the ‘Snoopers’ Charter’ enacted. Blamed Clegg for getting it taken out of the agenda.

    It is interesting to see the slick BBC news presentation in operation on a busy day like today.

    Studio Carrie Gracey and Simon McCoy
    cut to Norman Smith Downing Street O/B
    cut to Matthew Amroliwala Westminster O/B
    cut to Ben Brown Woolwich O/B
    cut to 70 Whitehall COBRA

    The satellite vans must be busy.

    Each one in turn passes to the next using each other’s first name using a scripted introduction. Norman Smith seems to have prior knowledge of the content of the speech Cameron is about to make.

  • Fred

    I have a dislike for all Nationalist parties and Nationalism itself. This is due to the sordid history of Nationalism and me not being stupid enough to believe that just because the nation is the one I live in that makes it all right.

    The referendum is not an election to be held every four years, the people deserve to be told the truth and the fact you defend lies and deceit shows your contempt for democracy.

    I don’t support any political party, the person I vote for is a Liberal and a member of the aristocracy and I support neither, never have. He gets my vote because I know people he went out of the way to help when they were in trouble and because when it comes to a choice between the interests of my area and those of the Liberal party it’s the Liberals that lose. He works hard for the people of my area so he gets my vote as what else he is.

    Those who’s politics are based on a hatred of the English may find this hard to understand.

  • resident dissident


    Please stop the obsfuscation and answer the question – what type of political system do you want and how would you go about achieving it?

    Fed up tried – and I would agree with many parts of his answer to the first part of the question but he threw a great wobbly when Ben reminded him of the second part of the question.

    Macky came up with a rather weak answer that seemed to indicate that fair trade on its own would be sufficient and as is his want filled the rest of his paper with the customary abuse.

    Only Ben grasped the challenge and engaged in a constructive conversation about how western democracy might be improved.

    Other members of the Murray Academy just continued to stick their fingers in air and continued with their one sided attack on western democracy whose faults they continue to believe is the root cause of all bad behaviour in the world – which can only lead one to conclude that they think other systems are better even though they don’t seem to have the courage of their convictions when it comes to saying so or setting out what they are and how they may come to fruition.

  • fedup

    A Chinese or Indian workers wages would not even cover the rent on social housing in the UK, how can it be fair to expect us to compete on the world markets on an equal basis?

    Fact that “Western Entrepreneurs” are in a bums rush to exploit the cheap labour over there (ie City institutions are busy lending these brigands enormous sums to go do their voodoo they do the best; exploit the shit out of the workers). As per the above questioning lines are in fact the fault of the cheap labour, who are black legging and working for far too cheaper rates.

    How’s about equal footing by raising the standard of the lives of those “Indians and Chinese workers” so that they are enjoying the same standards of life as the surplus labour does in this country, never mind the workers in this country?

    But hey come on, that is not possible, they are fucking immigrants man, and they are: taking our jobs, mobile phones, housing benefit, cars, ……!

    The patently clear: myopic, fucking blinkered, and utterly self absorbed lines of whining and moaning are not designed to address any kind of a solution to any problem, instead these are designed to let off steam and put the blame on the Johnny Foreigner (where it rightly belongs!!!), in preparation for the subsequent “Western Abuses” that are to be inflicted upon the future immigrants.

    Are we expected to be a de-industrialised country in perpetuity?

    Who “de-industrialised” this country to begin with? That is other than: its immigrants wot done it? Further what did your fucking precious neo labour did, upon getting into the office? The process of “de-industrialisation” was well under way by 1904, and it has never been checked, or halted ever since, by various political operatives in charge. Why do you fucking ask a bollocksy question, who do you blame for “de-industrialised” Britain?

    Why is it considered indecent for working class brits to have self interest, everyone else is allowed some?

    On goes the self-pity, how about starting by wresting back the control of labour party from the neo labour vermin? How’s about stopping the tribal voting for the said neo labour vermin, whom are in fact Tory Lite and have no interest in the “working class brits”? FFS Mandelson was questioning the Blackpool fish and chip shop girl; “is that guacamole?” He was referring to the mushy peas (patently a working class politician born and bred).

    In the era of internet a Michael Foot, or a John Smith cannot be easily written off as ““donkey jacket” fitted the image of Michael Foot as a thoughtless scruff “. Alas, the racist lite, can only conclude: It’s the immigrants wot done it.

  • Macky

    @RD, you really are a time wasting lightweight, perhaps you should consider posting at Harry’s Place rather than here; is this abusive ? maybe, as apparently you find abuse in everything I post, but then anything to avoid addressing inconvenient points, eh ?

  • Komodo

    Fred: Sorry? Where do I defend lies and deceit? Show me. I do acknowledge their ubiquity in politics – that is simply realism.

    I’m glad you have a good constituency MP (many Liberals and many SNP MP’s hold their seats only because they do good constituency work). That is the most important thing. That’s what MP’s should be elected for, regardless of party. And there’d be a lot less animosity in central government if the primary concern of all MP’s were directed to their constituents and not their parties. My position (check it out) is that the party system sucks. Any condemnation one party makes of another can equally truthfully be applied to itself. That’s the way it works, unfortunately.

    I think the issue of Scottish independence is a valid one. So do a lot of Scots. That’s why they formed a party to address it. The SNP is still a very moderately socialist party, not a bunch of violent blackshirts. And some of its members really enjoy taking the piss out of the English shock-horror reaction to the very idea that those amusingly savage Jocks could manage their own affairs….sorry. it’s infectious. And fun.

  • resident dissident


    I very much doubt that I will find the same intellectual heavyweights at Harry’s Place who could explain so cogently how all the major abuses of the glorious Saddam years can in effect be attributed to the actions of the evil West – and then they would want to raise tiresome quibbles about such impeccable logic, unlike this esteemed blog where such statements are taken as statements of the blindingly obvious by the vast majority. Let closed loop speak unto closed loop.

  • resident dissident


    Are you being a bit naive in hoping for the party system to disappear – even dictatorships like to have a single political party of their own. Also I suspect individual manifestoes would be a lot shorter and less detailed – which would allow the MP more freedom to make it up as he goes along and his/her constituents with a much less clear picture of how their representatives would act. I agree that more needs to be done to stop MPs acting as party automatons – but there is a balance to be struck here.

    I have no problems in MPs being elected to do constituency work – but they do also have responsibilities for matters which extend beyond constituency boundaries e.g. foreign policy, the macro-economic stance of the country. I’m afraid somethings in this world are more centralised than others.

  • Dreoilin

    Some oddities about Woolwich described here

    Why were the perpetrators clothes apparently 100% free of blood stains, while the guy who confronted the camera had both hands apparently covered in blood?

    Why was the police tent (presumably covering the body) moved from one place to another place around the corner?

    Why did the bystanders not run away? The two guys were still holding knives and machetes – and a mother of two goes up to talk to one of them?

    There should have been a lot more blood around if the soldier was actually beheaded on the street. There is a lack of blood on the road and also on the pavement.

    The guy who put up the post talks about “actors” and I wouldn’t go that far. But he makes some good points (with photos). Was there ever any suggestion that the soldier had been killed elsewhere?

  • Fred

    But this isn’t politics and shouldn’t be treated as such. There should be no place for lies and deceit in this referendum.

    I’m sorry but I know SNP supporters personally and by experience know them to be some of the least Socialist and most bigoted people in Scotland. Not just about the English either, should Scotland become independent and these people take power I would fear for large sections of the Scottish population too, especially those who they refer to openly as “Tinks” and who already suffer a great deal of prejudice and discrimination.

  • April Showers

    Hang on to your hats. “Is the party over?” Sky News’ financial reporter asks. The largest fall in two years has been recorded on the Nikkei, followed by market falls worldwide. These falls were triggered by Chinese lowered output figures coupled with Bernanke announcing that QE will taper off.

    Bernanke and Paulson presided over the 2008 crash and went off for Rosh Hashanah in the middle of it.

    By the time the bell rang on the New York Stock Exchange six and one-half hours later, over US$1.2 Trillion vanished from the American stock marketplace. Here was Wall Street’s blackest day in over twenty years since 1987. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, plunged almost 9 percent triggering its third-biggest decline since World War II. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 777 points, or 6.98 percent, to 10,365.45, the largest one day drop ever on Wall Street.

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