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18 May 2015
“FIVE MORE YEARS OF PURE EVIL”
Mindful of the fact that predictions are necessarily tentative, let us look into our crystal ball and try to glimpse what the implications of the UK parliamentary elections on 7 May 2015 are for those Britons that are not card-carrying members of the elite.
The omens are ominous.
Having failed to snag an overall majority in the last parliamentary election in May 2010, the viscerally rightwing Tory Party has had to govern for the past five years in coalition with the pro-free-market Liberal Democratic Party, its junior partner, which supposedly exercised a moderating influence. Now, however, the brakes are off. Provided that they retain their overall majority in votes in parliament, the Tories have carte blanche to do their worst.
Former London mayor Ken Livingstone of the Labour Party did not mince his words. It will mean “five more years of pure evil”, he said (as quoted in the Guardian newspaper two days after the electoral debacle).
Spot on, Ken!
By contrast, on 8 May, after briefing Queen Elizabeth II on the good news at Buck House, the newly elected Tory Prime Minister David Cameron returned to his offices at 10 Downing Street to announce that the Conservatives (Tories) would govern as “a party of one nation” (Financial Times 9/10 May).
If you believe that, you need your head testing.
In fact, he will govern exclusively in the interests of the corporate interests that, wielding their financial muscle and exploiting their control of the media, returned him to power.
During the last six months before the election, the door-bell to 10 Downing Street never stopped ringing as the country’s most egregious financial kleptocrats vied with each other to hand over shedloads of ackers for the Tories’ electoral war-chest.
They made their investment. Their ship came in. Now they want the dividend.
In an article in the Financial Times on 9/10 May, Jonathan Guthrie said: “Company bosses, some of whom backed the Tories in an open letter, now hope for payback from a party on whose donor lists hedge funds are heavily represented”.
According to Guthrie, the chief executive of a big outsourcing company was hopeful the Conservatives would “open up” the UK’s National Health Service by handing over routine administration to private contractors.
Of the City of London, the UK’s financial hub, Guthrie says: “Viscerally and tribally its sympathies are with the Conservative party. A surprise electoral majority for the Tories was therefore greeted with jubilation – albeit mostly in private – and a more visible surge in stocks…The benchmark FTSE 100 index jumped 2.3 per cent…Somewhere in the City, braying bankers were surely sloshing Champagne around.”
Liam Frawley, a recruitment consultant interviewed in a pub near the Bank of England, told the Financial Times: “The Conservatives support business, so there’ll be more jobs for me to fill and I can go on holiday to the Bahamas.”
Private Eye’s post-election edition (no. 1392) also documented the good news:
“It was no shock that the stock market welcomed the arrival of a Conservative majority government…Outsourcing companies [private firms to which the government outsources public services for loadsamoney] rocketed, including miscreants G4S and Serco, whose share prices rose 7.35 and 5.95 per cent respectively….Capita fared well too, improving 6.72 per cent. Defence outsourcer Babcock, which is involved in upgrading Trident [Britain’s redundant fleet of nuclear war submarines], surged 9.4 per cent…The outsourcers’ joy was exceeded only by that of the estate agents, especially in the capital. London agency Foxtons rose 8.99 per cent and Savills 9.81 per cent. So the markets’ view of the election result? Accelerated selling of public services and more jam at the pricey end of the property market. Business pretty much as usual, then.”
Did anyone say “pork barrel”?
The following, in the view of Antigone1984, is the best-case scenario as the lights go out and Britain returns to the Dark Ages of unfettered capitalism red in tooth and claw:
1. The very first thing that Cameron announced once the scale of his success had become apparent was the government’s intention to abolish the 1998 Human Rights Act, which transposed the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law. The Tories hate the fact that a non-UK body, the European Court of Human Rights, is the final court of appeal where interpretation of the convention is concerned. This ties in, of course, with the hatred of large sections of the Tory Party for anything remotely connected with European integration. The government apparently wants to replace the Human Rights Act with a “British Bill of Rights”. However, human rights, if they mean anything, apply by definition to all human beings. The Tories appear to believe that British human rights can somehow be differentiated from from universal human rights as if Britons were somehow not entirely human and therefore not entitled to benefit from the rights applicable to all other human beings. This is, of course, a doctrine dearly loved by dictatorial regimes the world over: “We have our own human rights. We don’t need yours.” It is more than ironic that the Tories are proposing to dispense with universal human rights in a year that marks the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta, the foundation stone of our civil liberties, which was signed under duress at Runnymede by England’s bad King John on 15 June 1215.
2. Savage privatization will continue and accelerate. The ongoing sell-off of the National Health Service to the private sector and foreign medical giants will be expedited. Ditto the postal service (the Royal Mail). Ditto the prisons and the probation service. Ditto the employment offices. And so on ad infinitum. All publicly owned organizations will have to draft plans for privatization. The government’s supporters (“friends”) and financial backers will, of course, get first bite at the cherry. The ultimate aim is to abolish the public sector altogether, the government’s role being reduced to light administration of the private businesses earmarked to replace it. The speed of the revolving door between the civil service and private businesses will be ramped up.
3. Public spending will be slashed. Central government is proposing to expand dramatically the already savage cutbacks in spending on benefits for the poor and the jobless. Following its swingeing reduction in benefits during the last five years, the Department for Work and Pensions has already got the green light to prune a further colossal £12 billion from the benefits bill. Local authorities will also be in the firing-line as their grants from central government are pared to the bone. As a result, local services will be mangled at best or abolished outright. Think refuse collection, health and safety, food inspection, traffic regulation, street lighting, care for the disabled and the elderly, etc. A spate of suicides will ensue as social derelicts chuck in the towel.
4. The deep security apparatus within the British state will be brought out of the shadows and mainstreamed. Secret surveillance of all citizens’ actions and communications (emails, telephone calls, private conversations inside one’s home) will become routine and bugging will be universal. The remnants of judicial restraint on police action will be removed. If that does not cow opposition, then emergency powers will be invoked. Dissent will be suppressed by zero-tolerance policing, recusants being thrown into jail with the slavering cooperation of the judiciary (the merciless judicial crackdown on rioters in London in August 2011 is a portent of things to come). Should this come to pass, the representatives of what remains of the token official opposition – the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats, etc – will, of course, give their full backing to the government not only for fear of being thought limp-wristed and insufficiently macho but also because, as rightwing parties despite the moniker, they fully endorse the gadarene rush towards undiluted capitalism.
5. No time will be lost in attacking the handful of moderately independent media organizations that have survived so far. Thus, albeit centrist and market-supportive, the Guardian newspaper is likely to have a more difficult time as it finds itself in the cross-hairs of government snipers. However, the main focus of Tory ire will be the BBC, long a Conservative bugbear. Although by any standards, the BBC is a cautious conventional middle-of-the road media organization, it is still theoretically independent of government and this is what rankles. Moves are already afoot to slash its budget.
6. In addition to the £12 billion of further welfare cuts mentioned above, the new government is planning to lop a further £13 billion off departmental budgets. Culture, the arts and heritage are expected to be among areas hard hit. Since the coalition of Tories and Liberal Democrats took power in 2010, arts budgets have been slashed. Sajid Javid, a person with no apparent cultural qualifications whatever, was appointed Secretary of State for Culture. While school budgets are supposed to be ring-fenced against the new cuts, government interference in school governance and curricula will continue unabated: the rush to privatize education, removing schools from local authority supervision will go on and the government will pursue its philistine crusade to purge from school curricula those subjects (such as art) which do not contribute directly per se to economic growth.
And so on…..
A letter from reader Olive Townsley published in the Guardian newspaper on 13 May following the electoral nakba on 7 May made a connection with celebrations held the next day to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day – 8 May 1945 – marking the end of the Second World War in Europe as Germany surrendered to Allied Forces:
“Among all the tributes paid to the generation that endured, fought and won the second world war, one is conspicuously absent. This was also the generation that voted out Churchill and his Conservatives and gave us the Labour landslide of 1945. Attlee’s government [Clement Attlee, Labour Prime Minister 1945-1951, defeated Churchill as the war ended] remains unique in carrying out what it had promised – the NHS, free education for all up to university level, nationalisation of the railways, the coal and steel industries, etc. The present electorate of the UK has now given the Tories the opportunity they have long desired – to complete the dismantling of the welfare state. Shame on us!”
Looking ahead, we can do no better than refer to the spine-chilling prophecy made by Welsh Labour MP Neil Kinnock, Shadow Secretary of State for Education and Science, in a speech made at Bridgend, Glamorgan, on Tuesday 7 June 1983.
This was two days before a UK parliamentary election at which Labour was resoundingly defeated. Margaret Thatcher – aka the Iron Lady or Attila the Hen – was re-elected Prime Minister and hence was enabled to forge ahead with her root-and-branch marketisation of the British economy.
Kinnock himself was elected Labour Party leader in October 1983. Disowning his leftist past, he shifted the party to the right, setting his face against the epic coal strike of 1984-85 and paving the way for the party’s subsequent abandonment of socialism under “son-0f-Thatcher” Anthony Charles Lynton Blair (Labour Party leader from 1994 to 1997 and Prime Minister from 1997 to 2007).
This is the prediction Kinnock made at Bridgend. It is as valid today, following Cameron’s victory, as it was Thatcher’s time.
“If Margaret Thatcher is re-elected as prime minister on Thursday, I warn you.
I warn you that you will have pain–when healing and relief depend upon payment.
I warn you that you will have ignorance–when talents are untended and wits are wasted, when learning is a privilege and not a right.
I warn you that you will have poverty–when pensions slip and benefits are whittled away by a government that won’t pay in an economy that can’t pay.
I warn you that you will be cold–when fuel charges are used as a tax system that the rich don’t notice and the poor can’t afford.
I warn you that you must not expect work–when many cannot spend, more will not be able to earn. When they don’t earn, they don’t spend. When they don’t spend, work dies.
I warn you not to go into the streets alone after dark or into the streets in large crowds of protest in the light.
I warn you that you will be quiet–when the curfew of fear and the gibbet of unemployment make you obedient.
I warn you that you will have defence of a sort–with a risk and at a price that passes all understanding.
I warn you that you will be home-bound–when fares and transport bills kill leisure and lock you up.
I warn you that you will borrow less–when credit, loans, mortgages and easy payments are refused to people on your melting income.
If Margaret Thatcher wins on Thursday–
– I warn you not to be ordinary
– I warn you not to be young
– I warn you not to fall ill
– I warn you not to get old.”
You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts. For instance:
- Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)
- Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)
- The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)
- Capitalism in practice (4 July 2012)
- Ladder (21 June 2012)
- A tale of two cities (1) (6 June 2012)
- A tale of two cities (2) (7 June 2012)
- Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)
Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.