Wot’s It All About Then?

An election like the last one makes you ask a lot of questions; such as, what is the point of democracy in a ‘first-past-the-post’ system? How are you supposed to do the right thing in what is basically a popularity contest? You can put together a manifesto which you believe is badly needed but if enough people don’t recognise that it’s the right thing, you won’t be able to do it. But if you change the manifesto to include what those people want, you’ve abandoned all your principles. Either way you don’t get to do what you want. A friend recently pointed out that, good as the Labour Party’s Green New Deal was, it slipped down the agenda in the final week or two, presumably because voters weren’t buying it. Yet if anything is desperately needed right now, it’s a Green New Deal: the Tories have the worst record and the most dismal plans on the environment of any party besides the Brexit Party: ‘carry on as normal and plant some trees’ about sums it up. Nothing must interfere with business, no matter that the disaster we’re heading for will interfere with a good deal more than making money.

Yes, it’s a terrible system, but apart from embracing some form of PR we have yet to devise one that’s any better, so all we have is that one tick in one box every five years. But it’s not nothing: as Tony Benn used to say, there are four questions we should ask of anyone seeking power, and the most important is, ‘how do I get rid of you?’ If we don’t have the capacity to get rid of people then a leader is as good as a dictator. So many dictators have come to power through democratic means and we absolutely shouldn’t think that it couldn’t happen here. Already Johnson is making noises about changing boundaries and rules (voter ID, for one) decriminalising non-payment of the TV licence thus preparing the way to open up the BBC to market forces, and making strikes on transport services illegal. I don’t want to make facile comparisons with Hitler but he, too, started off being democratically elected and making changes not too dissimilar to these. As for a community being demonised, Johnson is already famously Islamophobic and is now aligning Britain more closely with Israel as no doubt his pal Donald Trump would like him to do.

And I haven’t even started on the NHS and public services. Dark days lie ahead; we all need to be strong and look out for one another as best we can in order to defeat the bully-boy tactics of Johnson and his crew. Perhaps if I go around saying ‘Get Brexit Undone’ all the time something will change… after all, the opposite mantra worked for Johnson. It sickens me that all he had to do to win the election was lie, fail to turn up for important interviews, hide in a fridge and just keep repeating those three little words. The father of the terror victim begged us not to vote for him; Michael Heseltine and John Major begged us not to vote for him; hell, even Hugh Grant begged us not to vote for him. We don’t even know what his Brexit deal involves and I am utterly disgusted with us as a nation for electing him. Utterly disgusted. There are no more words.

Kirk out

Paint it Black

Well, there’s no putting a spin on this one: we lost. As for why, there are probably as many theories as there are stars in the sky – Brexit, media bias, the anti-semitism crisis, a more ‘extreme’ programme than in 2017 – whatever the reason, the result is clear.

I feel a sense of personal grief over this. It’s as if I had lost a very dear friend in sudden and tragic circumstances; I feel the need for a period of mourning before I can even think about anything else. But I’d like to explain in this post why I and so many others (I believe) supported Corbyn.

To understand this we have to go back to 1979, the beginnings of neo-liberal economics and privatisation. I was and remain utterly opposed to the privatisation of public services: I was and remain a believer in a mixed economy as the only way to ensure the viability of said services and to give government a hold over rampant capitalism. I believe unfettered capitalism to be fundamentally evil. The trends are well-documented and I’m too demoralised to go into them again but the rise of those few people at the top at the expense of the many at the bottom is clear for all those who have eyes to see.

This does not make me a communist. I have never believed in total state control of industry – I don’t think it works. A mixed economy was supported by all parties in the 1970’s and what is now presented as ‘extremism’ was then espoused even by one-nation Tories, a breed Johnson claims to represent but which he doesn’t seem to understand. Along with many others I was deeply frustrated by the failure of Labour, especially under Blair, to oppose this lurch to the right, and longed to see an opposition who would genuinely stand up for ordinary people.

Enter Corbyn.

As a man, Corbyn has been more vilified than anyone since Martin Luther King. He’s not perfect; he has flaws but, having seen him in the flesh a number of times as well as on TV and video, having continually asked myself ‘am I being duped? Is this man a charlatan?’ and answering ‘no’; my conclusion was that here was a fundamentally decent man who believed in what he was saying. I found it utterly scandalous that no sooner had he been elected, people in his own party were trying to get rid of him. There was no respect for the democratic process here. (Though people spoke out against Johnson, no such process occurred within the Tory party because they’ve always known how to stick together.)

Yes, we might have got a bit carried away towards the end (a four-day week was probably a step too far at this stage and, just and right as it was, it probably wasn’t good sense to announce that we’d help the WASPI women as this undermined our claim that all the policies were fully costed.) There was a lack of leadership over Brexit, where we should have had a policy in place in 2016, and over the anti-semitism scandal. There’s an excellent article about this here.

The extent of Corbyn’s popularity has been played down I believe, by the main-stream media, but it doesn’t matter now because we lost. However, to put Corbyn and Johnson in the same box as leaders disliked by their MP’s and unpopular in the country, is to miss a fundamental moral point: that they were morally opposites. Corbyn is a decent human being who stands up for ordinary people; Johnson is a self-serving bullshitter who cares for no-one but himself. And we’ve chosen him.

Right now I feel like a stranger in my own country.

More on that story later… in the meantime let’s be good to each other because we’re all going to need more human kindness.

Kirk out