Friday, December 09, 2011

Political post

There’s always a danger when expressing political views of offending somebody. I’m aware of this and generally in life I try to avoid political discussions in the justifiable fear of rejection.

But I’ve noticed myself being politicised of late. I’m starting to feel angry about the state of things and particularly the people in charge who seem bent as hell. So this is a foray into politics and all the things that have been brewing up inside me.

Partly my renaissance as a politico is because of Twitter and tuning into various voices there (like @UKuncut and @robinhood).

Working in the public sector has also introduced me to new sources of information. I went to a lecture last week delivered by Professor Allyson Pollock, who outlined the abolition of the NHS in England as it is opened up to private competition. David Cameron and co are demolishing the NHS based on intellectually flawed ‘research’ that is so preposterous, even I, as a non-statistician with an arts degree, can spot its glaring deficiencies.

Basically if you live in England you won’t have an NHS any more when this bill goes through. There is no guarantee of comprehensive cover or any duty for the Government to provide it. The organisations being given control over millions of pounds will have no obligation to provide services for people not on their ‘membership’ – and the poor, vulnerable, mentally ill, frail, confused, chronically sick, and illiterate could very easily fall through the cracks.

David Cameron has repeatedly told the public how much he loves the NHS, with the desperation of a wife-beater professing adoration of the woman he treats violently. But this privatisation in all but name turns him into a pimp whoring out his beloved to anyone with money.

There’s other stuff going that drives me crazy too.

Did you know that the head guy at HM Revenue and Customs, Dave Hartnett, was taken out to dinner by senior bods at various corporations, who subsequently got excused from paying millions in tax? He’s just lost his job by the way, or rather he will when he ‘retires’ next year (giving him another 6 months to trouser a few more quid from the taxpayer). Meanwhile one of the guys who blew the whistle is being hounded out of his job.

I’d like to know who I can take out to lunch so I don’t have to pay any tax any more.

I’d also like to know why the head of HM Revenue and Customs didn’t seem that bothered about collecting tax from wealthy people. And why the Prime Minister supported him when people started questioning it.

Did you know that the Prime Minister and Chancellor have both flatly ruled out the ‘Robin Hood Tax’ that levies financial transactions – currently conducted tax-free – because they say such a tax will work against Britain’s interests? It’s so nice they have our interests at heart, but by “Britain’s interests” they mean the interests of the banks, many of whom operate here without paying any tax because they know who to take out to lunch.

The banks, of course, are the responsible citizenry who prompted this global downturn by playing fast and loose with money they didn’t have. And strangely, although no government has held them to account for it, those same banks are seeking legal recourse to prevent a Robin Hood Tax being introduced.

The tax could raise millions – and if the banks and other corporations were made to pay their tax the way we ordinary folks are made to pay our tax – then that would be more millions. But instead the squeeze is on public sector funding.

I don’t want to defend poor spending decisions or financial mismanagement in hte public sector, but that isn’t what’s motivating the austerity measures. These were always the plan for any Tory government. High unemployment benefits capitalism because it keeps wages down. Cut people’s benefits and they will have to work and in the world of ‘caring conservatism’ that includes all those people on sickness and disability benefits.

There’s been a significant rise in attempted suicide among the chronically ill already being recorded due to the stress put on people who are unable to work but are having their lifelines taken away from them.

Then there’s the pensions thing. While any employer is fully within their rights to change the conditions of employment for their employees, there is something fundamentally untrustworthy about an employer who just unilaterally does it. Making people pay more for less is one thing – at 35 it will be decades before I see a penny and a dirty bomb in Whitehall may render it all moot before then anyway. But to suddenly tell people who have been investing for years that they will be on a significantly smaller income than they had been planning for in their retirement seems immoral.

Amidst the discussion about pensions and strikes, it is worth remembering that the average public sector pension is only £5,600 a year – not the “gilt-edged” pension pots that bedenimed tool Jeremy Clarkson seems to think they are. But Clarkson’s level of ignorance is the same as any moron tory braying out the party line about how ‘we’re all in this together’.

There are 17 millionaires in Cameron’s cabinet. No wonder they look out for the 1%. They are the 1%. And we are certainly not all in it together.

For what it’s worth, I didn’t strike, mainly because I don’t belong to a union. And I also don’t know whether striking would do any good. Unless you went out for a month – and everyone went out at the same time. That might cause enough disruption to ruffle even silky smoothy Dave’s oily feathers.

This brings me to another source of frustration, the opposition. There is little, if any, organised political dissent. Labour leader Ed Milliband seems to be incapable of having an opinion, let alone expressing it. He is a floppy-faced, doe-eyed bunny in the headlights of realpolitik and he doesn’t seem to have the nous to challenges the tory BS and expose it as vacuous mammonism.

The other opposition I see most often is the Occupy movement (or more accurately, non-movement). This is fairly visible as I have to walk past their encampment in Cardiff to get to my workplace. They are camped on a square of grass in front of a union building, but to what purpose, I don’t know.

If you are going to be anarchic and oppose the government, I can see the point of firebombing banks or bricking tory mansions. I wouldn’t condone it – certainly not on my blog given the penchant for prosecuting people ‘inciting violence’ online – but I could understand it. But to set up a few tents and regard yourself as a revolutionary just seems stupid to me.

Most of all, though, the thing that annoys me is the lethargic acceptance of the status quo. There are real issues at stake here. I think we should care – and I think we should do something.

I’m particularly appalled by the complacency of Christians. We are talking about social justice and the fortunes of the poor and dispossessed in society. These are the things that Jesus seemed to give a shit about.

To paraphrase Steve Chalke, more of my Christian friends would be upset about me using the word ‘shit’ than any of the issues I’ve listed above regarding institutionalised dishonesty and the shameless mugging of the poor to grease the cogs of the financial system, or the inhuman treatment of the marginalised.

I have always struggled with the way some Christians approach politics. Ever since I was a teenager I have hated the way the Christian approach to politics has cared more about stem cells than social justice; about abortion rather than what happens to adults living with infirmity or disability.

I understand the idea that the way society treats the unborn is indicative of the kind of society we are – but what about the way the Government are demonising the disabled and denying them support? What about the way the care of the sick and the dying is being opened up to the piranha for-profit companies? What about the tax breaks investment banks somehow get while lowly shelf stackers in the hgh street stores nervously wonder if they'll still have jobs in the New Year?

Do these things not matter?

Why should we campaign to create a society where the unborn are protected if then they are born into a society that teaches them they have to look out for number one, that compassion is weakness, that the ones who win are the ones born into privilege or who mortgage their souls to mammon in order to achieve privilege? I don’t get that.

I'm beginning to feel that everything about this government is antithetical to the teaching of Christ and yet I know many Christians will still blindly vote for them or argue for them or stand in elections wearing a blue rosette. I can only assume it’s because they don't read the same Bible I do. Maybe their God is not on the side of the weak and the poor and the downtrodden. Maybe their Jesus preached good news for the rich, and blessings only for the monied and powerful.

Aneurin Bevan stated that the success of the tory party was down to them repeatedly convincing the population to vote against its own interests. He was right. It isn’t in the interests of any of the 99% to vote such a ghastly bunch of smiling crooks into power, and yet people did.

Bevan, interestingly, rejected the church of his day because he said they were immune to the suffering around them. He felt they supported the wealthy in society in the class struggle. If he was right then the church was no longer on the side of Christ. I don’t know how much has changed. Sadly, probably not enough.


  1. Thanks Jon - you've pretty much distilled my own thoughts into a very coherant and provocative piece. Viva la revolucion!

  2. Well said Jon. You've managed to put into words what I've just 'felt' rather than thought for too long.

    As for what to do about it all; I suspect any successful action for justice will be costly and painful - and I don't really even know *what* to do. But somethings got to change. It MUST.

  3. Excellent post Mr. These are pretty much the exact thoughts i've been trying to articulate for quite some time now. Bloody bravo.