Monthly Archives: November 2016

Why I’m a bleeding-heart liberal

The current government of the UK disgusts me. The government under David Cameron astonished me. The government under Blair and Brown nannied me. In summary, successive governments, both Labour and Conservative, have been all about what the government can do to me and nothing about what I can do.

It seems that politics in Britain has collapsed to the point where neither major party is willing to treat 46½ million adults as adults. Sure, they’re happy to ask us to vote for them every few years, with promises of prosperity and happiness if we do but the moment they get into power, we are no longer worth their time and they get on with doing whatever the hell they like.

For the Tories, that seems to be enriching their mates and dragging the wealth of our nation upwards, leaving the poor with absolutely nothing and telling us to be grateful. It’s all about hard-working families, of course, because people who can’t work, for whatever reason, aren’t worth bothering with; they aren’t really people.

For the Labour governments under Blair and Brown, they seemed to think that we were a nation of children and that we’d elected them to be our surrogate parents. It was called the nanny state, where surveillance increased and we were urged to report our neighbours to the police if they put bottles of “chemicals” into their bins (I can’t find the advert online any more). It got to the point where Amateur Photographer magazine issued a lens cloth printed with advice on how to deal with the police if you get challenged for having the audacity to take a photograph in public.

Under the Tories, it has been just as bad. Like Labour, they treat the electorate like a bunch of poorly-educated children who need to be told what to do. Labour, at least, had the pretence that they were trying to make the poor little darlings’ lives better if only they’d behave themselves and play by the rules. Under Tory rule, they make no claim to be trying to help. They want simply for us to stay out of their way while they re-write society’s structure such that wealth is seen as proof of a person’s value and we must, therefore, reward those with such value with more wealth. Everyone else needs to work harder and they will enjoy the fruits of their labour. Really. Just keep working. You’ll get richer any day now.

Sitting quietly between the two self-interested behemoths is the ideology that states that people, by the time they’re old enough to vote, are grown up enough to behave themselves without their every move being regulated by law. Sure, some people need a bit of extra help, and the state can provide that. It would be good if everyone paid their taxes. We are all adults and some of the issues we must deal with are complex. That is fine, that means that our response must be subtle and well thought through. We can respect one another, we can welcome people from other places, we can go to other places ourselves. Wouldn’t life be so much better if we just got along together?

Sadly, it seems, the British electorate don’t much like being treated like thinking adults. It seems that it is our place to be dictated to by one bunch of autocrats or another. We get to switch from time to time in the name of democracy, of course, but we still end up lurching from one direction to another without really anyone stopping to think about what people actually want or need. The big parties are so busy shouting about what the people want that they never seem to take the time to shut up and actually listen.

Then again, who enters politics to listen?

Aaaand we’re back. And what a shit-show it has been.

With my attempt at NaNoWriMo this year formally failed (12,000 words written and 8 days left), I’m going to pour my words into the blog instead, this stormy Tuesday morning.

And what a time we’ve been having. I think that most people I know have not been enjoying 2016 very much. It all started with David Bowie. Then (in no particular order), Alan Rickman, Victoria Wood, Terry Wogan, Paul Daniels, Prince (artist formerly known as), Leonard Cohen and basic human decency. In the wake of the last in that list, the UK had the lyingest election campaign in history that resulted in a referendum to leave the EU and a wave of hate crime on the back of the result. The US election can’t be that bad, we all thought. Oh no, that will involve more truth, and more decency. But no. That was all about lies too, with one of the candidates contradicting himself more-or-less constantly (then again Boris Johnson’s referendum campaign was based around him taking positions directly in opposition to his own position on many issues). Of course, we now know how that one ended.

In the UK, following a vote that was, supposedly, all about returning sovereignty to the UK Parliament (on the back of a fictional assumption that Parliament had lost this), our favourite sorry excuses for journalistic output slammed three of our most senior judges for deciding that Parliamentary Sovereignty means just that and that Parliament, being Sovereign, must be consulted before we tear up forty years of law and much of our famously unwritten constitution. It seems that the executive (I’m looking at you, Theresa May) just wants unfettered power to do as it likes.

On that subject, the Investigatory Powers Bill passed into law this week, so now our surveillance laws make Iran and North Korea look like homes of free discussion and privacy. It’s great that we have such a strong Opposition to hold the government to account and to prevent it from over-reaching itself. (Not that Labour mind this bill: the Blair government was very keen on spying on all of us and seemed to hold the opinion that none of us were competent to get on with our own lives without the closest of scrutiny from above. It seems that all you need to say is “terrorism” and every MP is willing to take a runny shit on our basic right to privacy.)

The Labour Party has a lot to answer for. At the time of the deepest crisis of national identity since the War, they have really knuckled down and begun the long and daunting task of tearing themselves apart. Thanks, guys. You are a disgrace. You have been elected to represent your constituents. Please do your jobs. At least a bit. You may not like Jeremy Corbyn very much, but it does look like you’re stuck with him. I suggest that you sit down with him and talk, and come up with a way to oppose this government and its crazy plans that make Thatcher look like the tooth fairy. They have a wafer-thin majority and you are so busy fighting each other that they can do whatever the hell they like.

Over in the US, of course, things are arguably even worse. Nobody knows what Donald Trump is going to do when he gets the keys to the White House in January. The things he’s said in the campaign are contradictory and downright scary. And racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, homophobic, mysogynist, ablist and transphobic. My friends in the US are all scared.

That said, what could possibly go wrong?