The Green Party is gaining a voice and it may just be that 'austerity' rather than the environment is the issue that is making them attractive. Natalie Bennett, the leader of the Greens, was talking on the radio a few days ago about their opposition to 'austerity' and it seems to be a theme which links minor parties in advance of the election.
It will be interesting to see where Farage stands on the issue and that raises the spectre of my worst nightmare where the Conservatives remain in power with the support of UKIP, the unspeakable in support of the unspeakable.
11 February 2015
Politicians are a pretty cynical bunch so its difficult to judge whether Nicola Sturgeon is serious in her reported opposition to 'austerity'. It could be part of the SNP's strategy to further unbalance the Labour Party in Scotland ahead of the upcoming election. On the other hand, it might be an indication that 'austerity' is loosing its appeal.
In 2009, Cameron addressed the Conservative Party Conference and said, "The progressive thing to do, the responsible thing to do is to get a grip on the debt but in a way that brings the country together instead of driving it apart. That means showing leadership at the top which is why we will cut ministers' pay and freeze it for a parliament. It means showing that we're all in this together………….."
It's a statement that Cameron and his coalition colleagues have repeated often enough since then, probably on the basis that, if they say it often enough, eventually it will become the perceived truth.
But the course that Cameron & Co have pursued, that of 'austerity', isn't a fiscal strategy and has clearly shown that we are not 'all in this together'. The reality is that 'austerity' it is a return to a Victorian view of society where 'wrong-doing' must be punished and, in that context, it is useful to question the intent and purpose of 'punishment'. Quoting from Richard Garlikov, punishment can be seen as either as a deterrent of future wrong-doing or earned and deserved as a fitting consequence to doing evil.
So who did evil that 'austerity' has to be visited on the whole population? Certainly not the whole population, but actually a very small and hugely influential sector of the population - the banking and financial sector. And I doubt that anyone thinks that the banking and financial sectors are experiencing anything like the austerity that is being visited on the general population.
So Nicola's opposition to austerity is probably just another well timed political manoeuvre because I doubt that she would have the courage to take on the banking and financial sectors and punish them appropriately. Not whilst her friend Alex Salmond is such a supporter of Fred Goodwin et al.
Posted by niall connolly at 09:29
9 February 2015
So, George Osborne tried out the 'pensioners bribe', saw how effective it was, and decided to extend it. At a time when its hard to get 2% return on your money, George is giving everyone the chance to get 4%, or, sorry, George is giving some of us the chance to get 4%. And who are the people who will get this 'golden hello'. Pensioners. So what's wrong with that, pensioners need love just like everyone else? Well, I'll tell you what's wrong with it. There's an election less than 4 months away and pensioners vote in higher percentages than any other age group. Normally, under a two or two-and-a-half party system, this might not matter so much but with a hung parliament looking quite likely and with minor parties looking like they will exert more influence, grabbing a chunk of voters makes a lot of sense.
But remember just who pays for this 4% beano - its the taxpayer. That 4% will be paid by everyone out of their tax contributions and it will probably be paid for by more cuts in three years time if the Tories succeed. If they don't, they can always blame whoever happens to be in power at the time.
Win - win. Go George!
Posted by niall connolly at 09:27
31 January 2015
I'm sure that many people are quite disparaging about what is happening in Greece but at least the Greeks are beginning to question the dominant view which is that the way out of the financial crisis is austerity. It will be interesting to see how Alexis Tsipras and his colleagues in Syriza handle the European Financial Establishment because they present a real challenge to the accepted wisdom of austerity whose purpose is, in fact, to protect capital and the interests of capital.
And now the Spaniards are beginning to show signs of dissent. Where will it end? Certainly not in the UK because in blight we are way too smug and complacent. When does Big Brother start?
Posted by niall connolly at 15:18
2 January 2015
As the New Year fireworks fade to a distant memory we can look forward to an election less than 6 months away and it will be interesting to see how the various political parties position themselves.
The Tories will follow the script that they have used for the past 4 years which is that Britain's economic troubles and the consequent 'Age of Austerity' was caused by the preceding Labour administration. They will say that Brussels is a huge threat to Britain's sovereignty and must be constrained. They will say that immigration needs to be curtailed. They will say that we must all work harder and for less in order to 'make Britain stronger'.
For their part, the Labour Party will seek to be reasonable and rational in the face of Tory claims. They will cosy up to big business and the CBI and suggest that Tory extremism is a threat to the economy and stability. They will promise not to rock the boat whilst, at the same time, seeking to achieve a fairer redistribution of wealth without increasing taxes on anyone with influence. They will also try to recast Ed Milliband as a dynamic and attractive leader.
The Scottish Nationalists will share the same objective as UKIP where both will be trying to achieve enough votes to give them leverage in the likely event of a hung parliament.
As for the LibDems, what can they do to save their deposits? Probably nothing.
And throughout the run-up to the election, everyone (Tory, Labour, LibDem, SNP, UKIP) will ignore the reality of the global financial crash - that it was the culture of capital that caused the crash and it is the culture of capital which continues to visit austerity on the many in order to benefit the few.
There is no co-operative balance between the interests of capital and the interests of wider society - society serves capital and the interests of capital and, until something is done to reset that imbalance, the age of austerity is likely to continue. None of the political parties have the balls to address that issue. Its far, far easier to blame immigrants.
Posted by niall connolly at 11:19
15 December 2014
Last week I did something unusual, I watched Question Time on BBC1 but only in order to see how Russell Brand fared, and he didn't disappoint. Russell may not be everyone's cup of tea and I am sure that he turns many people off but he did illustrate the chasm that exists between the political establishment's view of Britain and any wider consideration of where we are and how we got here.
Brand isn't a polished public speaker (yet) but he has what the rest of the panel lacked - passion. A couple of years ago I had the chance to speak to one of the producers on Question Time and, talking in the context of my own experience in Somerton, the producer said that Question Time didn't want passionate people on the panel because they didn't fit the programme's profile. What he was saying was that Question Time is, in effect, a mouthpiece for the Establishment and the debate needs to be kept within the tight confines of the establishment's agenda. Brand's appearance on the programme was therefore quite unusual but it did illustrate the point.
As the programme unfolded, it became quite clear that the other panel members, conservative, labour and UKIP, entered into a loose coalition against Brand because his passionate consideration of the bigger picture was a threat to them all. Whilst they wanted to argue one policy against another, Brand looked at the bigger picture and, with regard to 'austerity', sought to point out that 'austerity' had been brought to us by the culture of banking, about which nothing significant has been done.
What was also interesting were the comments made by a member of the audience who challenged Brand to stand for Parliament. The moment this person started to speak, it was quite obvious that he was a plant (confirmed by the BBC) but the point that he made underscored why Brand is better off staying outside parliament and speaking to his 9,000,000 twitter followers. Parliament is just like Question Time where the debate stays within the very narrow confines of what the establishment sees as 'acceptable'. Like Question Time, Parliament is all about Punch and Judy politics where knock-about debate (PMQs) disguises a determination (on all sides) to maintain the status quo.
We need more like Brand, if only because it shows just how bankrupt our political system actually is.
Posted by niall connolly at 09:39