The Irish actor and director, Terry McMahon made a strong speech in support of the occupation and against the policies of austerity that have seen a rise in homelessness, poverty and suicide.
“A hundred years ago brave men and women fought a bloody war for our Ireland. The most idealistic among us, the bravest among us, the best among us, from every rung of society, put everything on the line for our Ireland. They are the forefathers of our revolution and we are the sons and daughters of their sacrifice. And we have failed them.
“In this one year, the centenary of 1916, more people have died by their own hand than were killed in the entire Easter Rising. In the last eight years of austerity more people have committed suicide than died in the thirty years of the northern Irish troubles. This is our Ireland and, a hundred years after 1916, austerity is not just a lie, austerity is murder.
“This is our Ireland, which is why we have no intentions of causing any hurt. Which is why we will operate within the law as much as possible. Which why as long as a quarter of a million properties lie empty and out government continues to do nothing , we will fight to ensure nobody else dies in a doorway.
“Our freedom was fought for a hundred years ago and today we ask ourselves, what are we prepared to do for the people who need us most? We ask ourselves, if not us, who? If now now, when? And finally, we ask ourselves, when exactly did we allow a tiny coterie of controlling class scum make us forget just what a f***ing sublime nation we are?
For reasons I won’t bore you with I found myself sat in front of the sickening bilge that is Benefits Britain. Rather than concern myself with the obviously hideous designs of the show I thought I would relay a few thoughts on why it produces such a visceral reaction in many, when I myself found it merely tragic.
Since the 1960s absolute wealth in the west has increased greatly whereas relative wealth has done the opposite and seen a massive concentration into fewer and fewer hands. The only thing that you can do with large accumulations of capital is use them to accumulate more and more. This has meant that more and more of us have had to leave mechanised production sectors to move into the new but hugely unsatisfying service sectors.
The service sector is the main but by no means only, driving force behind the McJob’s phenomenon. That is to say basic wage jobs that are both wholly mentally unsatisfying and also relatively poorly paid. The long term effect of this is that more and more of us than ever hate our jobs and when this dissatisfaction with our own lot is combined with the knowledge that there is not a huge difference in standards of living between those of us who have to suffer at work and those who don’t, anger and bitterness are quite natural human reactions.
The other driving force behind all this is the high level of unemployment that drives people into that sector or onto benefits. Contrast today’s society with the ‘60s. Back then the idea of ‘Benefits Britain’ could hardly have existed. In times of full employment wages rise and this means that the small societal group that are claiming benefits get left behind as much clearer differentials between the two groups develop. Those on benefits are worse off but those not on disability have the choice to look for work or not. It is the lack of such a choice today that clouds the issue to the point that we no longer know who is genuinely looking for work and who isn’t.
This leads me to the point of this. Why is full employment no longer on the agenda in the west?
You never hear about any government anywhere wanting or believing they can tackle it. If we could achieve it in the 1960s why 50 years on do we settle for ‘natural rates of unemployment’ that are 7-9% higher than they were back then?
The answer seems clear. It suits the economic system and its order. High rates of unemployment are deliberate in order to keep wages low, which in turn makes the multi-nationals/banks etc. more profitable and keeps the gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ larger.
In the meantime, shows like Benefits Britain feed into that system of divide and rule. They turn working class aspirers against any and all of the working class caught up in the benefits system. ‘Look at that c*nt with his car and plasma screen tele, being paid for by my f*cking taxes.’ It’s not so much their tele and car we really despise but the fact we had to work in such a shit job to get ours.
At the other end of the spectrum TV shows about the lifestyles of the rich and famous sell the false illusion that, ‘Hey, we can all be millionaires’ when we can’t. As basic economics will tell you, it’s impossible.
Being poor makes you miserable, but once your income goes above 40K there is no proven correlation with being any happier. Therefore, we should be trying to raise as many people up out of poverty as we can, instead of this incessant sneering whilst clamouring to be ‘rich’. Narrowing the gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ helps everyone, not just the ‘have nots’.
There is a way of starting the process, but we all know it’s never going to happen, as it doesn’t seem to be on anyone’s political agenda…
Meanwhile, back in the Land of Gideon…
Unemployment in Britain disappears in brilliant Osborne move
Chancellor George Osborne today announced plans to finally return Britain to full employment. Speaking at Mansion House to a packed audience of Daily Mail journalists he received several standing ovations as he informed the nation that: ‘From next Tuesday Job-seekers allowance will be cancelled. As the number of claimants is these days the headline figure for unemployment it makes perfect sense if we cancel it then nobody will be unemployed.’
When asked if he thought that this might lead to the sort of rioting not seen since the last sort of rioting, he replied, ‘The army is on standby with orders to shoot, if anyone in a hoodie tries nipping into Curries for a cheap plasma TV.’
Meanwhile Osborne was keen to assure people that having their Job Seekers Allowance cancelled would not necessarily lead to hardship. “For all those who want to eat I am pleased to announce I will be setting up program of Victorian type workhouses all over the country with the slogan ‘A fair day’s meal for a fair day’s work’. These workhouses have come about as a result of private sector initiatives with world class partners such as MacDonald’s, Costa Coffee, Burger King, Sports Direct and Amazon automated people Inc.”
However, not everyone was in support of Mr Osborne’s plans. Benito Himmler, spokesman for UKIP claimed ‘These plans do not go far enough and immigrants will still be a able to hi jack lorries at gunpoint in Calais and flood the country with foreign tasting food.’
A Labour spokesman when asked to comment went on to say ‘The whole thing is a complete and utter shambles from start to finish’ and was then asked to comment on George Osborn’s plans as well.
The Tories are now embarking on what is likely to be the most extreme right wing policies for a hundred years because they claim they have been given a mandate to do so by the electorate. Yet, only 66% of those eligible to vote did so and of that 66% only 37% voted Tory. Or to put in raw numbers, from an electorate of 46.5 million voters, only 11.3 million voted Tory which was 2 million more than voted Labour, but that’s hardly a mandate by any definition of the word.
There are still Labour MPs, Labour Peers, Labour Councillors, Labour supporters and Labour funders who believe that the party lost the election because the party was ‘too left wing.’ They will try to re-position the party back to the Blairite New Labour days when policy was often to the right of the Tories because this proved successful with three successive victories for the party between 1997 and 2010.
However, the most alarming aspect of the election result for democracy fans is that so many voters felt so disillusioned with all parties that almost half of them didn’t bother voting at all and a large percentage of those who did ended up with an MP and a government they didn’t vote for.
Let’s get it clear, there is no link between the first past the post system and electoral representation. The Proportional Representation pragmatists have always been poo poo’d by the main parties as offering endless coalition governments and unaccountable MPs, yet these same politicians soon jumped into bed with each other when coalition suited their interests in the nauseating Con-Dem pact. That kept Cameron in power for five, long and terrible years.
The Lib-Dems paid the price for this treachery and abandonment of their PR ideals at the election and may destroy the party completely, which is fine by me, for there is no centre ground in politics. The centreground is a myth, a lie, a liberal sop to the capitalist elites that demand some kind of allegiance to their political and economic con trick.
Some parties win elections because others lose them. Blair triumphed in 1997 not because he was some kind of messianic father of the Third Way but because people were pissed off with 18 years of Tory rule. He won again in 2001 because after their defeat the Tories imploded much as Labour had done after their defeat in 83. By the time Gordon Brown became leader, it was clear that the New Labour Paradise was just another mirage.
The Tories won in 2010 because many people were utterly disillusioned with thirteen years of Labour rule as they been in 97 after 18 years of the Tories. Yet these margins are still pretty narrow. A few million votes here and there can make a huge difference in the number of seats a party wins. Take 1997, Labour’s landslide for example. They ended up with 418 seats based on 43% of votes whereas the Tories ended up with 165 seats based on 31% of the votes. 12% difference but 253 more seats. Many people vote out of party loyalty whoever their MP is, whoever the leader of the party is and many vote tactically simply to avoid the least worst party in their opinion winning the seat.
When parties are neck and neck a few hundred votes or less can make the difference between victory and defeat. There is no mistaking the connection between the drop off in people voting throughout the past thirty years (down by an average of 20%) and the way in which the political system has become a demographic battle to win over a tiny percentage of swing voters in marginal seats. In this system, it doesn’t really matter about the party’s core supporters who are treated with contempt by the front row and certainly by the spinmasters and PR spivs who mould the leaders to appeal to these marginal king makers.
That’s where Miliband went wrong. He was never slick enough, never had the bottle to take on the right wing media and indeed his own ‘advisors’ who tried and failed to transform him into some kind of Middle English Every Dad. Just as they made Gordon Brown smile awkwardly so they made Ed lean and point. It was cringeworthy and phoney and faced with a press onslaught that had relentlessly ridiculed and demonized him since he became leader, there was no way that Labour would ever win with him at the helm.
So, now here we are, facing another five years of Neo-Con public school boy destruction and Labour is back to the old game of selecting a leader who can ‘connect’ with the voters. Connect with which voters though? The ones who voted Tory or UKIP, the ones who live in safe Labour seats but don’t vote at all, the ones who went over to the SNP, the ones who like their leaders to speak like them, look like them, walk, talk and whine like them?
Andy ‘Man Of The People’ Burnham may like to present himself as a down to earth commoner but if you look at his voting record, he is just another careerist from a safe seat who has played a canny game to get to the top, even exploiting his association with the Hillsborough families when it suited his agenda, despite doing nothing for them during 12 years of his party’s time in power.
The whole point of modern politics is to secure power by any means necessary but for what purpose? Labour want to tinker at the edges of the extremes of Tory policy because that’s what keeps the important voters in the marginal happy and fuck everyone else. They played the anti-immigration card during the election, they played the crack down on benefit claimants card during the election, they played the ‘Hard Working Families’ card during the election because they felt this would get them votes. It didn’t. And yet the puppeteers would have us believe that voters didn’t ‘connect’ with Labour because ‘they were too left wing.’
The media frames every argument in a prism of its own design. Thus, everything from ISIS to UKIP is discussed and analysed with a pre-ordained agenda. There can be no challenge to these orthodoxies that are not treated as the conspiratorial ramblings of cranks and ‘extremists.’
Thus ‘Labour lost because it’s too left wing’ becomes a truth because it is repeated as a mantra in the media and indeed the party, as they too are complicit in the system of evasion and self-denial.
Meanwhile, as they try to figure out a way of ‘re-connecting’, the Tories are relishing the next five years of destroying the very notion of human rights for non-millionaires and city leeches, who they depend on for their post-political careers.