It might be a hoary old cliché but it’s true nevertheless, when all you have for change is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
A long, hard look at today’s British Conservative party from the same of twenty years ago confirms any semblance of a rational political group has evaporated. The interests of the British parliament and the interests of the people of Scotland diverged some considerable time ago.
With around a third of UK electorate vote, and its rejection by Scotland, the Tory party knows it is technically unelectable. It boasts of having a mandate but that claim stretches plausibility. It has secured power now issuing from a poorly conceived coalition, and a truly disaffected English electorate. It plans to imbed its power by removing our rights.
Poor? Can you be more specific?
Over two decades and more the Tories sold out to big business, corporatisation of everything, rampant globalisation, and, no longer able to command the respect of a majority of voters, embraced the worst excesses of Ukip. Today, it gives sustenance to Ukip by emulating its policies, seemingly happy to have it do its dirty work for it. No surprise then, that some Conservatives feel Ukip is their natural home.
You can almost pinpoint the year businessmen became the new barons, when money became more important than society, while teachers, doctors and miners were ostracised. BBC television sent one businessman around telling companies how to do better, Sir John Harvey-Jones, the ‘Troubleshooter’. One company was Morgan Motor Cars, a company hand-building cars in the traditional way. He predicted they would go out of business within years if they did not produce more cars. They are still in business. Today, we have The Dragon’s Den, where millionaire business types do the bank’s job by lending money to new companies, but in their case they get to scoop up the best of ideas … and own them.
Since the 1970s and Thatcher the Conservative party began to ditch its ‘compassionate’, level-headed attitude of representing everyone no matter their politics, and took instead to adopting ‘conviction’ politics, a callous, undemocratic outlook best summed up in the ominous phrase ‘are they one of us?’
It took on board more and more wacky, extreme, vicious neo-con doctrine.
An empire of chaos
First of all we borrowed USA shock economics, symbolised by Thatcher and then Labour embracing Pinochet, dictator of Chile, who had implemented them in his country to brutal effect. Like Thatcher and her gung-ho Tories, Pinochet waged war on his own citizens advised by the IMF. In like mind we loaded the armament companies with orders. War is good business.
A great deal of the problems we face belong to the ‘special relationship’ with the USA, one based on us following USA foreign policy to the letter. Mix old-fashioned British imperialism with USA power and we get disaster.
The list of imperial wars and policies are endless. Call brutal imperialism ‘imposing democracy’ or ‘humanitarian intervention’; wage war by illegal drones and torture; isolate the Middle-East and corral its oil; tame Gaddafi; plunder Afghanistan’s mineral resources calling it defeating ISIS; remove Assad; portray any sort of European hegemony as at odds with British democracy; inflict severe constraints on citizen’s rights in the name of fighting terrorism, a terrorism the west has caused; increase surveillance of the population; intervene in socialist democracies that won’t play the capitalist game of putting a price on everything and a value on nothing.
I talk of a hammer but in reality it is a sledgehammer. Inciting sectarian conflicts in the Middle-East incites sectarian conflicts here at home. It’s a vicious circle. The Europe-initiated bombing of Libya created a scorched earth there, which has spread far beyond with weapons flow and stimulation of jihadi crimes. Many of the most horrible problems look virtually insoluble, like the Syrian catastrophe. There is slim hope in some kind of negotiated settlement towards which the powers involved must get around a table and work out a compromise solution. The Tory party seem intent on more bombing.
A recent interview with the prominent Middle East analyst Graham Fuller is headlined, “Former CIA officer says US policies helped create ISIS.” What Fuller says, correctly, is that, “I think the United States is one of the key creators of this organization. The United States did not plan the formation of ISIS, but its destructive interventions in the Middle East and the war in Iraq were the basic causes of the birth of ISIS“.
That the world in frightful turmoil is enough to cause you to place your head in a gas oven – if only you could afford the gas bill.
Russia steps in.
By supplying weapons to anti-Assad groups we have drawn in the Russians who wish to sustain Assad in power. They have bitter experience of promises broken by the west, and weapons of mass death moved to their borders. The confrontation not only is harmful, if not catastrophic, for Syria, but also carries a threat of accidental escalation that could be catastrophic far beyond. Each week sees a volte face on who is our main enemy, yesterday Iran, today Syria, tomorrow Turkey.
The Tory party, aided and abetted by Blair, Brown and the Labour party, threw themselves wholeheartedly into exacerbating those conflicts. The Lib-Dem party under the naïve Nick Clegg joined the farrago and immolated itself in the process.
Under Tony Blair the Labour party assumed the de facto role of promoter of neo-liberalism. It became hard to distinguish one party from the other. Gradually the Tory party found itself so far to the right it had nowhere else to go; it stopped pretending to be a serious political party of statesman-like policies. It took up the cry of only the strong survive. In a like-for-like copy of the Tories, Labour took up the cry that they were the real party dedicated to ‘working‘ people, but not supportive of those without work.
Lunatics ‘R us
Rejected by more and more of the electorate, the young in particular, the Tory party has reached the stage it might as well identify with the lunatic elements of society, and use them to cause as much frustration to the democratic process as possible.
By adopting Ukip policies the Tories give racist Ukip encouragement and validity. Tory affirmation of outsider sects has always been there; the Orange Order is one example, the secretive Masons another. Labour pays lip service to compassion by suggesting we allow in a few selected immigrants while happy to see the BNP party wave Union Jack flags in George Square. Westminster parties merge into one.
Both treat refugees as pariahs on the state, and demand they be kettled in camps near their bombed-out homes in war zones, out of sight, out of mind.
Democracy is for the birds
Whittling away at democratic rights helps British political parties to feel they are changing society in their image, but in reality they remove power from us, and increase their power base. They turn democracy on its head.
The rest of us discover, often too late, we have lost the right of redress. It works right down to our local council services. Once a local service is privatised, councillors are no longer accountable to their constituents. We pay our rates, we pay our local taxes but they go towards paying for fewer and fewer services. We take our own domestic rubbish to the recycle tip.
We are faced by a private company who directs us to a complaints ‘unit’ that is actually an offshoot of the same private company. Unsurprisingly, our complaint is rejected after ‘due consideration’. We are told if unhappy we can turn to the courts. Who has the money, time, or inclination to take court action? – not the poor, nor the impoverished middle-classes. Court action is for the wealthy. Lawyers and the law represent property, the more you own the better your living standards.
The blowhards have it
Less government gratifies the corporate state that wants regulation watered-down and fewer taxes imposed on it. This twisting of democracy to suit the ruling elite is sold to the electorate as false freedom, the incessant lie that less interference by government in our daily life means fewer taxes. Yet the first natural disaster to hit Britain, floods, gales, motorway pile-up in fog, and people scream for the government to ‘do something’. Then we discover ‘government’ has not got enough money in reserve to handle Acts of God. Billions are spirited away from the tax man, legally, with the blessing of government regulation, and by tax men who advise corporations on how to evade tax.
As far as Scotland’s health is concerned, the Tories are happy to be seen as the nasty party. The party has drifted far off the spectrum of parliamentary politics.
They have nothing to lose. They load the economic dice and see how much Scots can take before they squeal. Fool Scottish voters by introducing English votes for English laws after seducing them and scaring them to stay part of the Union, and so be part of the United Kingdom’s parliament, now a conglomeration of factions protecting their own interests.
Labour wants to be the toff
With that great a sea change in political stance it is no wonder the Labour party shifted to the right and has become the old Conservative party. “What is wrong with amassing lots of money” they ask? Well, it is how you got it that matters, and how you spend it, and in what ways that benefits the community you live in, and the society you are part of.
In some ways the SNP fills Labour’s old shoes by default. Scotland, both Yes and No voters want greater democracy. To Westminster that grass-roots movement, that wish for genuine democracy, is considered a threat – for good reasons, when we look at popular opinion expressed on social sites, and by the overwhelming election of the SNP to Scotland’s parliament and England’s House of Commons. Westminster’s power is challenged.
This is a strange moment in British history, but I hope an exciting one in Scotland’s history despite the temporary setback on September 14th last year.