The Pivot Point 305

The massive economic shock following the banking collapse of 2007–8 is the direct cause of the crisis of confidence which is affecting almost all the institutions of western representative democracy. The banking collapse was not a natural event, like a tsunami. It was a direct result of man-made systems and artifices which permitted wealth to be generated and hoarded primarily through multiple financial transactions rather than by the actual production and sale of concrete goods, and which then disproportionately funnelled wealth to those engaged in the mechanics of the transactions.

It was a rotten system, bound to collapse. But unfortunately, it was a system in which the political elite were so financially bound that the consequences of collapse threatened their place in the social order. So collapse was prevented, by the use of the systems of government to effect the largest ever single event transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich in the course of human history. Politicians bailed out the bankers by using the bankers’ own systems, and even permitted the bankers to charge the public for administering their own bailout, and charge massive interest on the money they were giving to themselves. This method meant that the ordinary people did not immediately feel all the pain, but they certainly felt it over the following decade of austerity as the massive burden of public debt that had been loaded on the populace and simply handed to the bankers, crippled the public finances.

The mechanisms of state and corporate propaganda kicked in to ensure that the ordinary people were told that rather than having been robbed, they had been saved. In the ensuing decade the wealth disparity between rich and poor has ever widened, to the extent that this week the BBC announced the UK now has 151 billionaires, in a land where working people resort to foodbanks and millions of children are growing up in poverty.

With the mainstream media employed entirely in diverting them from the true causes of their difficult lives, it is hardly surprising that ordinary people do not necessarily understand why a society has arisen where working hard does not enable them to work, eat and stay warm, and why the economic prospects of their children look so bleak. But they know that something has gone very wrong, they witness the vast wealth disparities of our unequal society and the deliberate dismantling of communal and altruistic public provision in favour of privatisation, and they feel contempt for their ruling classes, be they political, media or just wealthy.

The rejection of the political class manifests itself in different ways and has been diverted down a number of entirely blind alleys giving unfulfilled promise of a fresh start – Brexit, Trump, Macron. As the vote share of the established political parties – and public engagement with established political institutions – falls everywhere, the chattering classes deride the political symptoms of status quo rejection by the people as “populism”. It is not populism to make sophisticated arguments that undermine the received political wisdom and take on the entire weight of established media opinion.

Sometimes history appears to be approaching a pivot point, and then the weight swings back and nothing happens. But sometimes it does tip, and times such as these are times of great potential for change. I see hope, for example, in the upsurge of support for Green politics, and the happy convergence of popular political discontent with rising awareness over climate change. Jeremy Corbyn’s rise is in itself an example of the revolution in popular thought – that he is using the mechanism of one of the failed Establishment parties as his vehicle has both positive and negative consequences. In Scotland, of course, I remain anxious the revolutionary moment is being let slip and a new non-radical political class being firmly cemented into power, but retain an underlying confidence in the radicalism and will for self-determination of the Scottish people.

These are stirring times. The popular rebellion against establishment politics is continually portrayed as an unwelcome aberration. It is not – it is a reaction to massive corruption and outrageous inequality. Everybody should fan the flames of change.


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305 thoughts on “The Pivot Point

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  • N_

    Pivot point coming?

    Latest YouGov poll (data collected 8-17 May) for Thursday’s EU election in GB:

    Brexit Party 34%
    LibDem 17%
    Lab 15%
    Green 11%
    Con 9%
    Change UK 4%
    UKIP 3%
    SNP 3%
    Plaid 1%

    which gives

    openly far right 37% (Brexit Party + UKIP)
    centrist 21% (LibDems + Change UK)
    left 15% (Labour)
    traditional right 9% (Tories)
    “beyond left and right” far right 11% (Greens)
    regional nationalism 4% (SNP + Plaid)

    or, amalgamating further:

    CENTRIST 21%
    LEFT 15%

    Things do not look good. It will be so sad if the left come out of the next election saying “we fought a great campaign, we had a great time” and score 15%. Never has there been more need for consciousness and understanding about what the right wing are doing. And you won’t get that on your smartphone. Nor will you get proper conversations about it with idiots who keep picking their smartphones.

    BTW the Nigel Farage “Four Star Party” character in the BBC’s series “Years and Years” becomes prime minister. I am not sure whether that happens in tonight’s episode, the second. Watch out for a physical attack on the character similar to the milkshaking of Nigel Farage or whatever else may happen to him today – such as a spat with the Electoral Commission. Milk has highly useful connotations.

    The Brexit Party will start a big recruitment drive after Thursday. Thursday’s election is wholly a propaganda thing. The elected British MEPs may never actually take their seats except for perhaps about five minutes. The Brexit Party will win Thursday’s show and THEN it will start a large-scale recruitment drive.

    The Peterborough by-election will be held in two weeks’ time, on 6 June. There will have been two more episodes of “Years and Years” by then.

    • N_

      We are told that Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill will come to the Commons in the week beginning 3 June.

      Its progress is obviously being managed together with the by-election on 6 June in which the Brexit Party is currently the bettors’ favourite – and a win would be the most spectacular win in a by-election since any time I can remember. When was the last time a newly-formed national political party won either a nationwide election or a parliamentary by-election? For the latter I’ve got the Glasgow Hillhead by-election won by Roy Jenkins on my list. That was nearly 40 years ago, and the SDP wasn’t a populist party.

        • N_

          “EU to investigate Nigel Farage” is wonderful news for the Brexit Party. You have to wonder how on earth such a “Vote Brexit Party” message could be being put out right now…and by the EU Parliament’s president Antonio Tajani, who says he’s referring Farage to a committee of MEPs. I thought the EU Parliament had dissolved pending the elections. What actually is a member of that Parliament right now? But wait – Tajani is in Forza Italia. Most British media consumers don’t know the difference between the EU’s Parliament, its Commission, its Council, and a great big “European” with hairy nostrils jumping out at them. They will read this story as “the EU” trying to get one over on them. First it was ramrod-straight cucumbers and “all those regulations”, and now it’s this: dirty foreigners are trying to stop them voting for Nigel. What are they going to do? Voting for Chuka Umunna or Jeremy Corbyn isn’t on the list.

          Meanwhile Farage’s mob are gathering at London’s Olympia to “stop a referendum”. That location may call back memories for those on the left. Farage has already promised armed revolt in the event that the Brexit he has “been working for” is “not delivered”.

          About the only amusing thing is that the Cambridge elite will be annoyed that Peterborough is about to become the centre of the action!

          Looking at those polling figures again, we seem to have a “people’s will” in which No Deal is smashing all the other options into the ground.

          Boris Johnson’s star is rising? Here is his casefile.

  • michael norton

    British Steel should be nationalised, urges Labour

    I can’t disagree

    If we are to have Cliff Edge Brexit
    now the most likely option, especially by this weekend, following the European Union Elections,
    then we will need our our steel industry,
    more than ever.

    • Dave

      The deindustrialisation of Britain was part of the deal for joining the Common Market, with Britain left with London-centric financial services. I.e. Once you decide Europe is ‘the national state’ you replace a balanced British economy with a balanced European economy, hence the closure of the coal mines.

      However the much reduced British Steel/Liberty problems are due to the carbon taxes to fill EU/corporate coffers and of course save the world.

      • michael norton

        Dave, yes, I had heard that British Steel were shafted by the European Union for Carbon Tax.
        Hopefully after we have left with no deal, this nonsense can be replied with two fingers.

        But meanwhile British Steel has gone in to administration.

  • N_

    Look at the front page of tomorrow’s Torygraph. And that’s the day before an election. There’s never been anything like this before.

    Those who are in control are pushing for a Brexit Party landslide and for No Deal. I don’t care how many pundits parrot the line that “MPs would never allow it”.

    • N_

      And here’s the Sun’s front page.

      The Tory press is basically saying vote for the Brexit Party. The far right has replaced the right. She could be out before sunset tomorrow, let alone before the Peterborough by-election in two weeks’ time. A “cabinet revolt” (in the parlance) could do for her. I still think Boris Johnson when the race is openly on will drop out (probably because of something to do with his trousers) within hours.

  • N_

    Final YouGov poll (data collected 19-21 May):

    Brexit Party 37%
    LibDems 19%
    Labour 13%
    Green 12%
    Conservative 7%
    Change UK 4%
    UKIP 3%
    SNP 3%
    Plaid 1%


    * far right (open or “neitherist”), right, and nationalists 63%
    * centrists 23%
    * left 13%

    The Brexit Party is polling at almost twice the sum of Con and Lab combined. This is the biggest shift to the right in Britain ever.

    • michael norton

      It is being said that
      Mrs. Theresa May has been told to leave by tomorrow, by her own ministers because she is losing the respect and trust of the voters.

      • michael norton

        Mrs Leadsom’s resignation today,
        was praised by Conservative MP Tom Pursglove as “a very honourable and decent stand”.
        The minister’s resignation capped a difficult day for the prime minister who continued to resist calls to quit herself.

        Quite unusual, for a senior minister to quit, the day before an election.
        It is all about Theresa not being able to deliver a proper Brexit.
        Theresa will have resigned by Monday.

        • Dave

          Its pitiful to behold really, but May’s objective is to revoke Brexit and is prepared to destroy the conservative party and her own soul through repeated lies, to achieve this, under the guise of trying to deliver Brexit.

          According to Steve Baker former Brexit Minister, before the European committee in Parliament, said May was offered a free trade deal with EU that she refused – and it was her idea, not EU, to include the backstop which made her deal Remain+ rather than Brexit.

          As a Remainer she could have promoted a compromise of leaving the EU, the political objective of ever closer union, but remaining in the customs union for 10 years, which would have ruled out joining the Euro, a compromise Labour couldn’t have refused if promoted at an early stage and could have been sold as a sensible British compromise.

          True remaining in the customs union isn’t fully Leave, but the economy is improving, and Leavers say this shows project fear is rubbish, but it also means the economy is improving whilst still in the customs union.

          True a compromise would involve continuing with free movement, but again this,, as initially proposed by Corbyn, needn’t mean literally free movement, but again whatever is said, becomes irrelevant if not enforced, and cutting immigration from outside Europe, is already possible, but seems unlikely when border control are keeping people out until they need rescuing!

          Brexit was revolutionary and May’s complete betrayal makes the situation even more revolutionary, with the revolution led by John Wilkes (Farage) proclaiming the need for a democratic revolution through voting reform.

          • N_

            A “free trade deal” means the single market, also known as Brexit in name only. It’s easy to realise why Theresa May would “refuse” such an “offer” during the negotiations. It’s not a revelation. Soon @Dave you’ll be shouting “Lock her up” together with Stephen Bannon’s friend Nigel Farage.

            May did a deal with Labour, but in typical British style it wasn’t presented as such, any more than the British government’s negotiations with the IRA in the 1990s were called by their real name. Her problem is that she clearly is not going to be allowed to table the bill and open the debate on it at the despatch box, any more than Christian Democrat prime minister Aldo Moro was allowed to get to parliament to announce his “historic compromise”.

            “Brexit” is a dogwhistle word for “rights for whites” and “***** out”. Most people who voted Leave and who will vote for the Brexit Party today don’t have a clue about the difference between the EU’s Parliament, its Commission, its Council, or the meaning of notions such as “single market” or “customs union”. Most reasons they give are fake – “oh, so many regulations”, and “EU membership costs so much money”, and so on. Why? Because it’s not at the moment considered acceptable to say “***** out”.

            The extreme right, traditional right and nationalists may score 63% in today’s election, with 40% accounted for by the “Brexit” party; the centrists may get about 22%, and the left (with Corbyn, McDonnell and Abbott deserving that appellation but most of their leadership colleagues being of the white phosphorus tendency) around 15%.

            Farage is likely to be in the cabinet within a few weeks. The mechanism by which he gets there isn’t particularly important. I imagine he will stand and win in the Maidenhead by-election after Theresa May resigns as an MP, and that he won’t be made a lord, but you don’t have to be either an MP or a lord to be in the cabinet. If he doesn’t get appointed to the cabinet he will get some other high-profile official post.

            What’s happening is not “quite unusual” – it’s completely without precedent. The Tory press are slaughtering the Tory party’s electoral chances immediately before an election, on the Tuesday and Wednesday when headlines really count.

            The Electoral Commission criminals are directing attention to Nigel Farage to help him and they may look at Russian money (big deal!), while Stephen Bannon gets none of their attention and nor does anything connected with the US embassy. This is the very same Electoral Commission that has allowed ARROWS LOOKING LIKE SMARTPHONES to be printed on every ballot paper directing voters to vote for the Brexit Party.

            Anyone who does vote today, by the way, should take a pen, rather than use one of the pencils so helpfully provided that can only make marks that are a cinch to rub out. And no this is not a “conspiracy theory” comparable to Elvis Presley being on the Moon or the queen being an alien.

            It also seems to me that senior EU figures are deliberately assisting the rise of the Brexit Party. How else does one read the recent actions of Antonio Tajani (EU Parliament president from Forza Italia), Guy Verhofstadt, and Jean-Claude Juncker? Every time these guys open their mouths and say something about today’s election in Britain, it’s good for the Brexit Party. They’re not that stupid.

            Which is not to say they are having it all their own way. The “Led By Donkeys” group that has been working against the Brexit Party is a front for Greenpeace, a well-funded organisation that has better to access to information than several governments, and which I have long considered to work closely with the German intelligence service. But perhaps the role of that operation is mainly to take the shine off the Brexit Party in the next British general election if one is held, rather than to affect the margin of its voteshare in today’s EU election.

            As for the milkshake movement, I suspect Stephen Bannon. The “Farage under siege from milkshake throwers” story is an excellent story for Farage and for the increasingly not so under-the-counter ramping-up of white racism, one of the memes of which (in an intelligent and non-smartphone sense of the word “meme”) is precisely “siege”. This is more than some wet behind the ears scribes getting off on using words such as “bunker” and “holed up” and thinking they’re cynical.

            Britain is a laboratory right now for state-of-the-art political propaganda techniques, for psychological warfare.

          • N_

            And how far is the deranged crown prince from this ongoing filthy business? We know that his mother’s pro-Brexit effort was headlined in the Sun to help the Leave side in the EU membership referendum in 2016. My attention was recently caught by Stephen Bannon’s meeting in London with Frederick Barclay, one of the very low tax-paying “Barclay brothers” who own the Telegraph Group, the Spectator, and the London Ritz which is round the back from St James’s Palace. The Barclay brothers’ businesses have long cooperated with the “Prince of Wales”.

  • N_

    When will the ballot boxes containing the ballots from today’s election be opened and counted? I know the line is that “final counts” will be made on Sunday after 10pm, but does that mean that box counts will happen tonight and that squeaky clean local officials whose snouts never go near a trough will be on their best behaviour not to add up the box tallies to arrive at figures for each constituency and know who is going to be elected? Or will the boxes only be opened on Sunday night? One thing is for certain: big firms in the City will want to know, and they will know, the results early.

  • Dave

    Leave means Leave, but as with progress towards Scottish Independence it can be incremental rather by “crashing out”!

    The referendum was held to deliver a Remain vote and join the Euro, hence why Lib Dems supported the referendum and therefore Leave stopped this, but after a long membership, Leaving in one go would inevitably alienate a lot of Remain voters.

    As a British and Ireland Unionist I support Brexit to strengthen rather than weaken the Union and so realistically in the interests of unity, withdrawing from the political institutions and “ever closer union” is a vital first step, but the rest can be incremental, a compromise to ensure a smooth transition.

  • michael norton

    Mrs. Theresa May has said she is going to stop being Prime minister in early June.

    Bye Bye

    • michael norton

      Sorry, I got that wrong.
      Theresa has said she is going to stop being the Leader of the Conservative party in early June.
      She will remain as Prime minister untill she is dragged out by her fingernails.

  • N_

    Pivot point in Britain… Summary of EU election results so far:

    Far right and nationalists: 51.4%
    Centrists: 23.7%
    Left: 14.1%
    Traditional right: 9.1%

    The two of the above that have lost most are the left and the traditional right, each of which is represented by a single party, Labour and the Conservatives, which have lost around 45% and 60% of their voteshare respectively. Labour lost 11.3% of the total, presumably to the far right (Brexit and Green) and the centrists (LibDems). The Conservatives lost 14.9%, almost all of it going to the far right.

    61% of voters voted for the right, far right or nationalists, 24% for centrists, 14% for the left.

    In Scotland the picture is even worse than in Britain as a whole, as the left has performed more abysmally and the total for the far right and nationalists is even higher. Results so far:

    Far right and nationalists: 62.7%
    Centrists: 15.8%
    Traditional right: 11.7%
    Left: 9.3%

    Brexit has been a hugely successful operation.

    • michael norton

      Could you please explain why you are lumping the Greens in with the extreme far right?

      • N_

        Because left is about class struggle and the redistribution of wealth away from the rich, whereas green politics comes down from Walther Darré, says “it’s too late for that” and “shut up about things like that”, contains the idea of a “natural” social hierarchy, and pushes for large scale “population control” (culling). That makes it far right. Meanwhile some of its key figures have six children or more. They ain’t thinking of forced vasectomies for Athenaeum Club members. That some of the Greens’ propaganda is non-cityslicker-flavoured does zero to negate this. Much of the Nazis’ propaganda was aimed at those who considered themselves fairly leftwing too. Parties gotta win votes.

        “Between left and right” = centrist. If we are to use the words “left” and “right” at all then we have to accept that there is a centre. None of this classification is perfect. It’s obvious that these terms are crude when dealing with contemporary political branding and positioning which is informed by a lot of practical advertising theory. I put the Liberal Democrats and Change UK as “centrist”. I would have problems putting Macron and his president’s party in the same category. He presents as “pro business”, and in fact his party (vehicle) doesn’t call itself “between left and right” but rather “both left and right”. In any case, one can observe that it’s not traditional Gaullist. But who cares about some army general from the middle of the last century anyway? Will Chuka Umunna do a Macron, leading a “ChUK(a)” party to parallel the “EM” party En Marche? I doubt he’ll ever get a chance, but he may think otherwise.

        “Neither left nor right” is very different from “between left and right” and always means right, an astute observation made about a century ago by Charles Péguy. In fact it means far right. Welcome to the Five Star Party and also to the rebranded French National Front now called National Rally. The line “The FN is neither the left-wing nor the right-wing of politics. It is the bird” – which is clever in that it makes the listener think actively while it puts an idea into their head – dates back more than 20 years.

        Anyway Thursday had 61% for right, far right, or nationalists in Britain, and 74% in Scotland. TIME TO EMIGRATE, BUT WHERE TO?

        • glenn_nl

          N_ reckons the Greens are a far-right party, and suffers yet further loss of credibility in the process. This (Green=far-right) would come as astonishing news to the actual members, supporters and sympathisers of the Green movement – but then N_ knows better than everyone else about most things. At least in his own mind.

  • michael norton

    The Brexit Party, just gained another MEP

    Total 29 – 5,248,533 votes

    This is the tipping point,
    the useless government will have to deliver Brexit in October, 2019

  • Dave

    Its a puzzle, genuine Green is right wing, hence popularity of Garden Centres, but climate change Green is Marxist, but Marxist Corbyn on his right-wing allotment is anti-Globalist Left-Wing and anti-EU, contrary to middle-class Marxist Globalist poseurs on the Labour Right. The fact Neo-Nazi Alastair Campbell voted Lib-Dem shows what a farce the election was and shows we need to look at share of vote and turnout to come up with a suitable compromise.

  • michael norton

    Brexit shutdown slashes UK car production by 45%

    This is difficult to fathom if Brexit is the main factor in slow down or if Global concerns are the main factors.

    There has been planned slow down in the UK car industry to do with Brexit
    but global car sales are falling off a cliff, especially to China because of Trumps Trade Wars.

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