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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  • resident dissident

    “We are absolutely determined not to be intimidated into not doing the right thing, whether it is here in this country or in Afghanistan or wherever we seek to serve the nation.”Bold

    I presume that this can be read as April Showers believing that it would be right to use intimidation as a means of stopping the arm forces carrying out their duties as set out for them by our democratically elected Government – or perhaps she may wish to explain what here inference is meant to be.

  • A Node

    Fred says …

    “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.”

    … and if I guess right, he is also one of the few politicians in Westminster honest and brave enough to speak up against the banks …

    ““… our whole monetary system is dishonest, as it is debt-based… We did not vote for it. It grew upon us gradually but markedly since 1971 when the commodity-based system was abandoned.”
    The Earl of Caithness, in a speech to the House of Lords, 1997.”

  • Mark Golding - Children of Conflict

    Typo RD – 28 September 2004 – Speech by Tony Blair MP, Prime Minister and Leader of the Labour Party, Labour Party Annual Conference, Brighton Centre.

    “I have come to realise that caring in politics isn’t really about “caring”.

    There is no value or sympathy in negationism Resident Diss – it appears frequently to negate crimes against humanity.

  • Komodo

    “Nothing racist about calling a Jock a fat c**t” they say, “I mean they are beached whales aren’t they so how can that be racist? Some of them even call themselves Jock lard tubs”

    FIFY, Fred.

  • Jesuit Atheist

    “Anyone who believes the Treasury would be fundamentally different under Balls or Osborne is delusional”

    Yes, and stretch that out to cover all ministries and parties and that pretty much sums up UK politics.”

  • resident dissident


    You are of course now triangulating from your original quote – and you know only too well that if anyone were to read the original quote it would by no stretch of the information be consistent with what you originally said. Quite funny how you are guilty of the sins you are all too willing to attribute to your target.

    As for “negationism” this is of course not something you would ever practise in respect of the records of the Assad family or the indefatigable Saddam before he was so rudely removed.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Conflict

    Guano – a story to share.

    “A moment of patience in a moment of anger prevents a thousand moments of regret….”
    Hazrat Ali.

    Great powers and great men must act with mindfulness, not anger.

    Abu Hurairah reported that the messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “The strong man is not one who is good at wrestling, but the strong man is one who controls himself in a fit of rage.”

    Prophet Muhammad’s visit to the city of Ta’if exemplifies Ali’s idea of patience. There, 70 miles South-East of Mecca, he hoped to find refuge from the pagan Quraysh tribe who controlled the city of Mecca and were hostile to his efforts to spread Islam in Arabia. However, instead of a warm reception, he was pelted with rocks and forced to flee for his life. Bloodied and bruised, he returned to Makkah. The death of his uncle, Abu Talib, an influential leader within the city, left the Prophet without protection from the Quraysh. Who was he to turn to for help? The Muslims living in Makkah had been afraid to receive their Prophet; the chiefs were hostile, except for one – the kind hearted Mut’im ibn-‘Adi — a pagan, who extended his hand in friendship and support. And so the survival of Muhammad, his followers, and the very existence of Islam itself, fell to the hands of a non-believer.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Have done more checking on why the FBI wants to connect me to one Stephen Nickerson. Got two calls from the Bureau just this morning, trying to get me to respond to its investigations.

    Seems the connection is not the Boston bombings and its murder of Ibragim Todashev but the ricin attacks directed against President Obama and federal judges in Alabama and the state of Washington.

    The only connection I can see between me and the ricin attacks is my claims that the CIA poisoned me with minute amounts of ricin when I was living in Portugal, and after complaining to the WH and the DoJ about Bubba’s cozying up to deadly criminals Nixon, Helms, and Haig – hoping that my death would look like suicide or a natural one – and claiming that the Agency’s deadly ricin attacks after 9/11 were diversions to help cover up the fiasco it caused on that epic day.

    Now the Bureau and the Agency are working together to get the troublemakers, and they have apparently forgotten nothing in the process.

  • Fred

    No Komodo, there is nothing wrong with saying Alex Salmond looks like a beached whale, especially as he does. That isn’t racist in the least.

    Persecuting an entire section of the community purely because they have the surname McPhee. Their children being bullied, taunted and called “tinks” at school while the teachers look on and laugh, them getting sub standard housing and discriminated against when they apply for jobs. The caste system of the part of Scotland I live in, an entire clan treated as third class citizens. That is wrong.

  • April Showers

    1747: The Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir David Richards, says the killing has only reinforced the determination within the armed forces. “We are absolutely determined not to be intimidated into not doing the right thing, whether it is here in this country or in Afghanistan or wherever we seek to serve the nation.”

    Richards’ double negative means that he and his employers intend to carry on burning the skins and bodies of people in other lands.

    Iran is still in the cross hairs. This was 2011.

    You know it is THE RIGHT THING as we are often told.


    Paulson might be a Christian Scientist but he and Bernanke still went off for the duration of Rosh Hashanah.

    I read this yesterday about their activities during and after the crash.

    para 5

    Long disappeared are the reports of Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein being the only banker in the room with Henry Paulson, Timothy Geithner and Ben Bernanke while plans were being made to ‘save’ insurer AIG that just happened to put $13 billion into Goldman Sachs’ pocket. And the New York Fed’s Stephen Friedman, a member of Goldman’s Board while he was orchestrating the firm’s bailout, was given a waiver to buy more Goldman stock after determining the terms of the bailout. And what of the AIG ‘bankers’ who were kept on multi-million dollar ‘retainers’ for their unique knowledge of how to destroy their business? And what of the AIG executives who, after being bailed out, insisted (and received) on being paid their bonuses in cash because they believed company stock to be worthless? These and infinite other acts were larcenies most likely, unfortunate lapses in otherwise honest efforts to serve the public weal under circumstances that by sheer coincidence limited the utility of policing and prosecuting those of a certain class.

  • resident dissident

    @April Showerss

    And why was the gratuitous reference to Rosh Hashanah necessary? The para you quote just points out that they were having discussions of matters not related to Jewish religous ceremonies – which is entirely to be expected given the sate of financial markets at that time. It is pretty well known that Goldmans needed state support at that time in order to avoid its collapse.

  • April Showers

    It was not a gratuitous reference. At the time everyone was worried sick that banks might collapse and their savings disappear. Hardly a good time for these two important people to leave the scene for however many days’ holiday Rosh Hashanah lasts. I don’t know.

    btw you remind me of my dog who will not let go of a stick or a bone once she has got hold of one. 😉

  • Komodo

    Oh yes. The McPhees. Bet they don’t drink Buckie, then, unlike the rest of the Scots according to you….and being travellers, they are, unlike all the rest of the Scottish nation, probably light and fleet of foot. Though not to avoid the law, of course. Perish the thought. That would be stereotyping on the basis of their occupation of recycling scrap metal.

    It would really piss you off if they turned out to be nationalists, though, I’m guessing. It’s bad enough that they are Scots, isn’t it?

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    The FBI is still busy trying to determine whether or not I am one Stephen Nickerson, and what I have to add about the rigmarole.

    Besides trying to determine that I am involved in some ricin plot against Swedish-American officialdom because of the failed attempt to entrap me as ‘Jihad Jane’s lover/assassin of Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, and with the survivors of murdered Ibragim Todashev, the Bureau seems worried that I might try to rehabilitate leakers, especially deceased Colonel John C. Nickerson, Jr., of covert America’s corrupt and crazy ways.

    In my writing, I have been the lone voice in defense of alleged spies like Rick Ames, Robert Hanssen, Jonathan Pollard, the Walker ring, etc., and the Bureau might want to know what I have to say about Nickerson when it comes to talking about the Leaky Leviathan.

    More later after I consult with private investigators and lawyers about what to do now.

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