We live in an age in which politicians hate us.
The feeling is mutual, we hate them.
They are the people entrusted with the safety and prosperity of the state who, by deregulation, allowed venal banks to rob the nation blind, and then turned to us to get the banks out of bankruptcy. It was corporate blackmail. They demanded the state bail them out. Welfare, state aid, was adjudged not good for the rest of us, in particular those tarred as scroungers and work shy. The then prime minister, Gordon Brown, was told by fat bankers earning 1,000 times the salary of their teller clerks that if we didn’t help them they would take the state down with them. He replied they were the very foundation, the bedrock of modern economics. He would save them. He made himself the go-between.
We hate politicians for cheating us. Twice. They know that, and they hate us in return.
Ever since the bank crash politicians of all persuasions have seen themselves as compliant go-betweens. They do not lead. They denounce. They harangue. They rebuke.
Opposition to Scotland’s democratic governance, Labour, Tory, and the feckless Lib-Dems, express incredulity over the electorate’s continued support of the SNP despite all the SNP’s alleged failings. The past is the past, they say, move on. They pretend the brutal austerity they stick on us is not the result of the 2008 bank crash. We know otherwise. And when we boot them out as we did so comprehensively in Scotland, cleared the garbage from off the porch, they call us ungrateful.
Tory and Labour are shocked that we don’t understand their entitlement to rule.
I write this with a heavy sadness. The political ‘system’ was never like this, never so bleak. I hesitate and wonder if it’s worth it. Why not just live a life out of harm’s way? There has to be a day without anxiety or pain, or self-doubt that is corrosive.
The ‘failings’ they allude to, it has to be said, are invariably the concocted propaganda they churn out daily. In other words, opposition politicians, MSPs and MPs, castigate voters for not believing in the propaganda they feed us. They prefer us brain washed.
Labour’s Scottish branch loathes the SNP, Scottish Tories loathe the SNP, and spreading themselves thin, all types of socialists too. The Lib-Dems loathe themselves, and, of course, the SNP. None wish to serve Scotland for the good of Scotland, except the SNP, yet all wonder why the electorate dislikes them for placing Scotland second in priority.
The children of Thatcher do as Thatcher would have wanted them do. At Westminster Hunt hates doctors and the National Health Service, Gove hates teachers, Duncan Smith hates welfare users, May thinks the police need a good kicking, Johnson dislikes all foreigners, and Cameron hates refugees and immigrants.
They only think they are agreed about is, they all hate the SNP.
Our hateful politicians are nonplussed because we cannot see things as they want us to see them. “SNP Bad!” they exclaim, and we answer, no, not yet. But you are.
The House of Commons and the House of Lords have become a sort of airport grudge lounge. Members have special passes to use them. They pop in from time to time to take more freebies, read papers, and register their dislike of one section of society or another. They wave their order paper at the Speaker, stand up to pontificate amid a bray of ‘hear, hear’, and tell us we are “misguided”, “hoodwinked by the SNP”, “gullible fools”, we “fail to comprehend”, and we must “grow up” and “fall in line with British values”.
Having expressed an analysis and discharged what they see as their duties as parliamentarians, such as handing over foreign policy to the USA, and spending billions they say we do not have on useless weapons of mass destruction, they skedaddle off to join the board of some bank or financial institution, ready to help it avoid taxation, and worker rights. Those preferring to keep down two profitable jobs or more, remain MPs to prostitute themselves and their ethics as behind desk ‘consultants’.
As S. J. Perelman asked, co-author of the Marx Brothers’ movies, “If work’s so great, why don’t the rich do it?”
We are not asked to work at the service of the community anymore, or work for an ideal, but instead be at the mercy of private companies and their profit margin. I got involved in the arts not only because it seemed the natural place for me to be, but because it was once a respected vocation, as were teachers, doctors, and coal miners. I didn’t expect to earn a Saudi’s income. The respect of the community was the gold standard I hoped to earn. But the society I was born in is not in command of the mechanisms for dispensing approval let alone thanks, so I don’t look for reward, like so many others who left for other shores.
The people of Scotland still believe government to be a good thing. It generates jobs, encourages inward investment, creates initiatives, promotes our culture, stands up for the weak and the vulnerable. That it might occasionally make a misstep, or enact a weak law is of no great concern when a government genuinely and assiduously serves the electorate.
Politicians hate the democracy they say they uphold.
Democracy hating, welfare slashing, politicians would have us believe the opposite – that government is about serving business interests; it exists to boost private enterprise. It’s an incoherent doctrine. They have a schizoid believe that the free markets free us all, yet not allow the free movement of labour; that governments should shrink until no more than a talking shop, exercising fewer and fewer powers. Whereas we know from bitter and continuing experience free markets enslave us all and our government too.
We are told being British is all about raising bunting and waving flags at the Queen as she passes, going gaga at the sight of a new royal baby, supporting England’s cricket team, eating junk food from a franchised outlet, reading Rowling’s books, and treating dissent as sedition.
If the Scottish Enlightenment was about anything, it was about the noble conviction that the people can change anything not functioning properly, or plain bad, to something better. And we can do it through the democratic process of open discussion, rational argument, and voting. We realised fate was in our hands, not some nebulous, unknown mysterious source. We saw there is nothing inevitable about another tomorrow the same as today, and knew life’s ‘harsh realities’ aren’t carved in stone.
Our political representatives want to be our political masters. We must surrender to them, or they follow the example of that intolerant old-school teacher, Thatcher, and punish us.
Our politicians enrich the rich and enrich themselves, they punish the poor, alienate the disenfranchised, and insult the intelligentsia, and then they demand of us that we should “be proud of being British”.
That’s why we hate them.