Independence Day 198


I have lived my entire life under governments dominated by either the Labour or the Tory Party. When I was young, there were genuine differences between them – over public ownership of transport, utilities and strategic industries, over the rights of workers in their workplace, over Britain’s attitude to its Imperial legacy.

However in the course of my lifetime the political agenda shifted fundamentally to the right, as the Labour Party under a series of opportunist leaderships shifted its ground to the agenda favoured by the corporate media. So even our drinking water had to be privatised, the maintenance grants that had enabled me to go to university were abolished as the very principle of free education was abandoned, the NHS was increasingly given over to private provision and PFI introduced the opportunity for bankers and financiers to take the large majority of the total taxpayers’ money allocated to any public investment project. Council housing was sold off and not replaced. Foreign policy became entirely subservient to the United States and a neo-con model of continued armed attacks on poorer countries abroad.

What is worse, the scope for expressing policies that lay outside the increasingly convergent views represented by the main stream media and the Tory and Labour Party narrowed, to the point where dissent disappeared. The opposition to the Iraq War of the majority of people was reflected in less than 2% of total UK TV coverage of that war. The fact that consistently a substantial majority of British people want to see railways renationalised never has any corporate media reflection.

Both “main” parties supported giving over £60,000 per British household to bail out the bankers, which is why we are in this debt mess. Both parties support the fact that 99% of the bankers have maintained the same ultra-opulent lifestyles and income, with no price paid for their failure. The corporate media gave no voice at all to the policy alternatives around allowing bad banks to go bust. It would have been 8% as expensive for the taxpayers just to give to the public and companies the amount they lost in UK bank deposits with failed banks.

When Nicola Sturgeon spoke in the televised TV debates, it was the first time in a decade that I had heard opposition to Trident missiles – a view held by over 40% of the population – even mentioned on television. It had become that bad.

And that Nicola Sturgeon moment was an indication that something really has changed. The electorate have twigged that the Red Tory and Blue Tory parties offer no real choice at all. Whether you want the same Thatcherite cuts spread out over a slightly longer timescale is not a choice.

The political system has quite rightly fallen into disrepute. A pretend choice and charade of democracy is not going to fool the entire population. It is not just that Labour and Tory cannot get over 35% of people who vote. It is also that so many people don’t bother to vote through disillusion. They are not apathetic, they justifiably don’t see how it helps them whose nose is in the trough. Combined with the appalling FPTP system, you end up with a circumstance where Tony Blair’s “triumph” of 2005 was won with 22.5% of eligible voters. The system is bust. The legitimacy of government already does not exist – what is newly in doubt is the ability of illegitimate government to foist itself upon the people.

This is the first election of my lifetime where there is a chance really to give the rotten structure a substantial kick. Any human construct, including the SNP, is imperfect, but that Trident moment on TV represented the truth that the SNP is a real danger to the comfortable untouchability of the neo-con UK state. I urge everyone to vote SNP in Scotland as the surest way to start to force change. Many of the SNP candidates whom I know personally – Mhairi Black, Phil Boswell, Chris Law, Michelle Thomson, Tommy Sheppard – are definitely going to bring fresh air to parliament.

In Wales, vote Plaid Cymru. In England, I think Green is the way to go in general, and I wish all the best to Rupert Read in Cambridge. But if you have a good Independent candidate, consider giving them a vote. Citizen participation against the parties deserves encouragement. There are good people in all parties, and there are some sitting MPs – Jeremy Corbyn, Paul Flynn, John Hemmings, David Ward – who I would vote for; they transcend the moral stunting of party politics. Despite profound differences on Scotland, I do urge people in Bradford to vote for George Galloway, who has done so much to oppose neo-conservative wars, and been an obstacle to the cynical exploitation of Islamic communities for machine politics by the Labour Party.

But above all, today will be remembered as a day when Scotland took a giant stride towards achieving national independence. A vote for the SNP is a vote for Scottish independence and for the break-up of the UK state. It matters not what attempts are made to obfuscate that fact, opinion poll after opinion poll post September 2014 has consistently shown no statistically significant gap between the level of support for the SNP and the level of support for Scottish Independence.

This is a great historical trend which the SNP are surfing rather than controlling. The fundamental answer to the political malaise which I described at the start of this article is the break-up of the UK as the sovereign political institution. A vote for the SNP today is part of an inexorable progress towards that break-up. You would be nuts to be a convinced unionist and to vote SNP, and whatever the propaganda the truth is that almost all SNP votes are nationalist votes, and I for one am claiming every SNP vote as a vote for Independence. The utter panic of the entire Westminster political and corporate media establishment is in itself sufficient evidence that this really counts (I loved the description Scotterdammerung). Freedom is a great thing – get out there and vote for it.

This is the one day that we are all independent, in that whoever we choose today controls us tomorrow. I have lived my life under a rotten system which has got more rotten, more corrupt, more intellectually narrow, and more divided between rich and poor. Today is a great chance to shake that system. Get out there now and shake it!


198 thoughts on “Independence Day

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  • Jon

    John Spencer-Davis, many thanks for the links. Ha! strange coincidence on timings. I think if I try to do that again, I shall fail.

    Becky Cohen: that’s not really a helpful contribution, given that Craig’s post is attempting to do the right thing in earnest. See my comment above about needing to develop a Left consensus while tolerating differences of strategy.

    In the meantime, “vote Labour” may be taken as an endorsement of (or a lack of regard for) the historical war crimes of that party, which figure very highly in people’s estimation around these parts. I fear you have not taken this view into account, and you should, even if you do not personally share it.

  • Clark

    Becky Cohen, you have managed to misrepresent votes for any smaller party into votes for the Tories. Did you vote to change the voting system to Alternative Vote, or did you vote to keep the current system, or did you not vote in that referendum?

  • Clark

    Becky Cohen, I resent this. Morally, I could not vote Labour. Not only have they supported torture and the war of aggression against Iraq, and lied about both, they have been in power without exposing or taking action about the Westminster etc. child abuse atrocities; with the pressure upon the police and probable secret service involvement, all Prime Ministers from Thatcher onwards must have known.

    I resent you trying to coerce me into voting for the likes of that by saying that to do otherwise is to support the Tories.

  • glenn

    Fred: “Show me where I ever abused anyone who hadn’t abused me first.

    You did it to me. I objected to your foul language and argued that it was offensive to call people “retards” by way of insult. And your response? It was the same knee-jerk reply to anyone who offers you any criticism at all. You told me to “fuck off and die”, and called me a “retard cunt”.

    That is what I’m talking about. You probably don’t remember that particular occasion, because it’s your stock response.

  • Phil

    Jon
    ” if you can persuade the whole country to spoil their papers, why not just persuade them to vote for a decent party in the first place (creating that party if necessary)?”

    Jon, you fail to grasp the point that the system is the problem. So, everyone votes for a decent party but that party is corrupted by the system. However, convince everyone that representative democracy is a corrupting system then things change.

    That Scottish independence is a win for the left is far from clear. I know this is claimed by the SNP and their supporters but by my thinking this will not happen. I suggest the gradual backtracking on core establishment issues (NATO, monarchy), their embrace of Murdoch, party centralisation, etc, are sure signs of this progression. We have front row seats to the corruption and capturing of a party. The grass roots rebellion neutered.

  • Tony_0pmoc

    Mary,

    I think you are a Star here – as is Mark and Craig – and I am older than Craig Too…but I always gained the impression that you were significantly younger than both of us..

    You are incredibly sharp, bright and committed.

    I don’t mind about political differences…that is just normal. What I do mind about is what is happening to the entire human race.

    “Marvellous words Craig. I’m a generation older than you and I feel exactly the same about what has been lost. We will not be reading anything like your piece in the corporate media.

    ‘The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.’

    Thank You,

    Tony

  • Katie

    “I did take on board what Katie said, and Rupert’s subsequent explanation. I am frankly not interested in the semantics – I think there is a lot of bullying around shifting use of vocabulary by the trendy. But the practical stuff about bathrooms etc does interest me, and would be wrong. I shall have a word with Rupert about it at some stage and ask him to explain what he thinks in everyday English. If I think he is wrong I shall tell him so.”

    Craig, you needn’t bother: hard as you may find it to believe, I don’t actually need some smug, chauvinist sexist male to bring up a subject and talk on my behalf, thank you very much. Your discussions with your transphobic (and this has nothing to do with semantics) mates have zero significance for me. Btw…As far as I’m concerned, Miriam is not a ‘sockpuppet’ (as you so contemptuously refer to her) but my partner whom I share a computer with and decided to hold you accountable when you dodged my post and then, sticking your head in the sand, prevented me from posting the link to what Rupert Read actually wrote on his blog as opposed to what you actually wanted him to write!

  • Katie

    “I am frankly not interested in the semantics – I think there is a lot of bullying around shifting use of vocabulary by the trendy.”

    Yeah, my objection to your mate Rupert referring to us trans women as abnormal freaks (i.e. not like ‘ordinary’ women) is just political correctness gawn mad, eh Craig? Hey, you missed your vocation: you should be writing for the Daily Mail.

  • Katie

    “Katie/Miriam,I read the original blog post, and the subsequent clarification, and I don’t see egregious error you do. It sounds like Rupert is trying to make an effort to understand, in a rather academic way, and has fallen over a subtle tripwire in the process. I think he was trying to distinguish between women who have transitioned from male, and thus don’t have the “lived experience” (to use the academic terminology) of having suffered discrimination as women for their whole (prior) lives.
    If his logical deduction from that is that transwomen should use male bathrooms, I think that is the wrong judgement. However I think that he may have been led up the garden path, and he does not seem to be motivated by hatred/transphobia as you seem to think. Inasmuch as I am allowed a view on it, I think a small subsection of female-led feminist thinking is motivated by misandry, which makes some of their views on transpeople (of either gender) problematic to say the least (transwomen are frauds and transwomen are traitors, is what it boils down to).
    Of course, if Rupert is the dreadful individual you believe he is, who should one vote for instead? I think the purist option of voting for no-one, whilst not necessarily wrong in all cases, could let in someone a great deal worse. The debate about whether to vote for Galloway is much the same, and it is a nettle that must be grasped.”

    Jon: your patronising response to me reeks cisprivilege and it is obvious that you cannot even begin to understand what transwomen and transmen have to go through in our lives. First off, and you should REALLY take note of this: a transwoman – whether she’s had sex reassignment surgery or not – is NEVER a man. She does not simply become a woman or choose to be a woman (as both Read and yourself are assuming) she IS a woman and grows up with the experience of being discriminated against precisely because she is a woman who is trans. To suggest that transwomen are just the same as males until we have full SRS is not only woefully inaccurate, but extremely OFFENSIVE! Trans women are the minority group of women who are statistically most likely to be raped, murdered, sexually assaulted, discriminated against in the workplace and in education. So please stop being an apologist for transphobia and making those who oppress us into the victims and us into the aggressors.

  • Katie

    “Rupert Read apologized. What else is he supposed to do or say?
    Rupert Read: Green party candidate apologises for offending transgender people
    The philosopher sparked a heated debate after posting that the use of the word “cisgender” as the opposite of “transgender” troubled him”

    Mary: Stop putting words into my mouth and allowing your lifetime of ingrained cisprivilege to set up the ridiculous propaganda lie of the transphobic all-powerful establishment as the victims and the powerless trans women minority as the perpetrators. It’s fairly evident to anyone reading my post who has even a minimal level of reading comprehension that I am not saying that Rupert Read is ‘supposed’ to say or do anything. Moreover, he didn’t issue an apology, but instead a denial that he’d espoused anything transphobic. I guess this ‘excuse’ works if you don’t feel that regarding trans women as men; claiming we are a threat to cis people when in fact it is trans people who are statistically far more likely to be attacked, raped or murdered by cis people when we use women-only or men-only spaces like toilets; maintaining that we are somehow less ‘authentic’ or ‘genuine’ women because we do not meet a patriarchal definition of femininity like having the ‘right’ gender appropriate genitalia etc.

  • Jon

    Katie, thanks for your thoughts. I acknowledge my gender privilege, though I hope you don’t mean to imply I should not be allowed a view at all (presumably you would like to be replied to – isn’t that what this blog is for?).

    You have completely misunderstood my view, in two ways. Firstly, there was no intention to be patronising. I am (genuinely) happy to understand how my reply was patronising, so I can avoid that particular tripwire in future, but there was no intention for it to be read this way. I invite you to consider that you have read into it things that are not there. Not everyone here is respectful, I am sorry to say, but I am not part of that crowd. I urge you to consider the possibility that we have some kind and decent people here.

    Moreover, in relation to trans issues, I do not see where we disagree. I said that if Rupert was of the view that transwomen should use male bathrooms, “I think that is the wrong judgement”. I made an effort to try to understand the minority feminist bloc that is not supportive of trans people (for the avoidance of doubt, I think their views are wrong).

    Perhaps we have a small sliver of disagreement as to the tone of Rupert’s opinion. I think he was led up the wrong path by a particular brand of academic feminism, whereas you think he is of monsterous views. You are within your rights to say that, but thus far I am not persuaded.

  • Jon

    The note about sock puppets, incidentally, came from “cm-org.uk” – that’s a moderator, and is unlikely to be Craig. There are a few good janitors here who rescue comments from the spam bin and delete racist material (I used to be one of them, but am now just Joe Public).

    If two people post from the same connection, it is a good idea for them to declare it, since sock-puppetry has been a genuine problem here historically.

    Mods: might be worth making your edits clearer 🙂

  • Jon

    Katie, two more minor bits of response before I go analyse the election:

    Did Rupert literally describe trans women as “abnormal freaks”? I suspect he did not, but I am willing to be proved wrong (and I would condemn it in much stronger language if he did). I think you are putting words in someone’s mouth here – not good practice, as per your reply to Mary.

    Moreover, I can see you are angry, and without wanting to patronise, I understand why, since this topic is of daily relevance to you. However, your tone is aggressive and insulting, and is not the approach you should be taking if you wish to persuade people to your position. Craig, whilst deliberately not PC, is obviously supportive of trans rights (see above), and you’ve shot me down too, despite my having not supported the TERF position at all.

    See my 8:31pm reply to Phil about broad coalitions – the Left is angry and fragmented, and we all need to work on consensus-building. Can we reach civil agreement? I am very willing to.

  • Jon

    Phil,

    Jon, you fail to grasp the point that the system is the problem

    No, I understand that very well indeed. But the practical problem of persuading everyone to spoil their papers has not been addressed here – if that were possible, you could also persuade them to see through the propaganda that gets them to vote for selfish individualism. Since the latter does not appear to be possible, the former also is not.

  • Jon

    I do agree that the SNP need to be kept to their promises, however, and I acknowledge the dangers of reformism. I understand that “it will be different this time” has often failed to produce any lasting social democratic change.

    However, the groundswell of change in Scotland during and since the indyref has been significantly different to the positivity of the Labour win in 1997 or Cleggmania in 2010 – the indy campaign seems to have generated a pre-revolutionary fervour. Perhaps my analysis is naive, I’m happy to hear that – but the task for the Scottish Left now is to force the SNP to carry out its policy. I agree that independence is not in the bag, but I think the signs are good.

    We do not disagree on the dangers of the Murdoch alliance, but perhaps we have differences on how best to play it. I personally would not have chosen their strategy of entertaining his kind, but I will be happy to call them out if it forces the SNP to backtrack from their stances on, say, independence, Trident and student tuition fees. I can’t presently see how it will.

  • cm-org.uk

    This is from a moderator. A moderation e-mail will be circulated suggesting mods-cm.org as the moderation screen-name from now on.

    Comments from Katie and Miriam were caught in the automated spam filter, hence the note “spam filter false positive”. They were not blocked by Craig or the moderators; once found they were retrieved from the spam. The submission time of Miriam’s comment was modified so it would not be overlooked among older comments. A comment from Katie at 13:36 was deleted because it was identical to the one at 13:31.

    Thanks for the explanation of the connection between Katie and Miriam.

  • glenn

    Just wondering. WTH actually gets worked up about which particular gender-specific toilet facilities is appropriate? I mean, what sort of person sets out a serious part of their day, concerning themselves with what might happen if a TG person happens to be sharing a public convenience?

    My interaction with others is kept to an absolute minimum on such occasions. Whatever their orientation, of whatever type, that happens to be. Why is it so hard, sorry, difficult for some denialists, sorry, hard-core Xians, to ignore others there too? And more to the point – to stop fascinating and fantasising about gay sex?

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