by Ray_North on September 20, 2014

images-1Ok, personally, I’m glad that I still live in a part of the UK. I feel that if Scotland had gone the other way, this morning, it would have felt that I was living on an island that comprised of Switzerland, Lichtenstein and Norway, with something that was capable of resembling Syria just across the Irish sea.

But, at the same time, I feel a great deal of sympathy for those who were in favour of Scottish Independence, for them, this was a chance to say goodbye to the archaic old boys network that is Westminster; adieu to the collection of half-witted weirdos, careerists and deeply conservative retrogrades that are our three main political parties. It must have been a real kick in the teeth for the pro-indepence campaigners to wake up on Friday morning to find that they were still part of their life, still calling the shots, I have to say the sight of all those fresh-faced young besuited would-be MPs wearing Labour Party stickers and celebrating like crazy at various counts, made me cringe. Indeed the fact that they were celebrating at all – just made me realise that they just don’t get it.

But celebrate they did, and then, in the aftermath we see Cameron and Miliband making and breaking vows and counter-vows, promises, half-promises on devolution and Englishness and constitutional reform and I ask again – do they not get it?

Do they not understand that the utter disillusion and disenfranchisement that many people feel in this country, is not caused by a feeling that there is a structural political deficit, a gap that can only be filled with more layers of government, but is something more deep-rooted and fundamental.

I spend a lot of time in the North West – I would bet my kids kidneys that I couldn’t find a single person in the whole of Merseyside, Cheshire or Greater Manchester, would who declare honestly, that the thing that they most want to see is some kind of devolved regional assembly for the area. Similarly in Wales, where I live and where there is a tradition and history of political movement towards independence, there isn’t a great thirst for more devolved power.

Nor is there a great thirst for more politicians, more elections, more worthy young things – because people don’t like or trust politicians, we are not inspired by them, we don’t feel led by them, they are just a different breed of people – and giving us more of them, won’t alleviate this problem.

What people do want is a feeling that politicians actually care about them and that the political parties are there to serve them, not to pay lip-service to them. We want them to ask the right questions, not ignore them, because they are just too difficult, or hide behind the failures of a generation. We want honesty and plain speaking not the corporate speak so beloved of New Labour, the patronising lies of the Lib-Dems or the hideous arrogance peddled by the Tories. And, the people no longer want the levers of the state to be used in a way that makes inequality and division more likely – which to my mind is the absolute heart of the matter. It is the reason politicians are so distrusted, it is the reason why almost half of people in Scotland voted in favour of independence – they believed that an independent Scotland would be fairer, more equitable, give more people a chance to fulfil their potential and they can’t be criticised for wanting that, which is why those who celebrate the fact that they are denied that are deluded.

It is what Westminster doesn’t get. It doesn’t realise that we the people are on to them, we know that for the last thirty years, the economic orthodoxy at the heart of all our political parties policy making decision has been that the financial markets must be given priority when economic policy is being formulated, and that social policy must fall into place accordingly. All parties have accepted the flawed theory that if you generate wealth for the few at the top then the rest will benefit – it hasn’t worked. And not one politician (save, perhaps for Alex Salmond, to be fair), has been able to challenge that orthodoxy with anything approaching passion and intelligence and consistency.

I believe that most people want to live in the UK, and, I believe that most people are, actually, quite comfortable with the notion that public policy and law is made in Westminster, but, what they are increasingly starting to detest is that that public policy and those laws are being made for the few and not the many. And that politicians are treating them like fools as they play at a type of politics that is all about obtaining and maintaining power – but rarely addresses the issues that bother the rest of us. That is the debate we need to have, not some fatuous nonsense about devolved Parliament for Cornwall and the unanswerable riddle of the Westlothian Question.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike Killingworth September 20, 2014 at 12:09 pm

You’re halfway there, Ray. People see that representative democracy has been taken over by the richest 50,000 – that the Ballot Act has effectively been circumvented, and to the extent that voters pay attention to politics at all they have swallowed the Big Lie that all boats are lifted by a rising tide and so on. (It’s a lie, of course, because when the tide goes out, the richest of the rich don’t get any poorer, only the rest of us.)

There is only one place that this can lead to: calls for a Strong Man and the emergence of an Anglo-Putin: maybe not Boris or even Carswell, but make no mistake – there’s one in the wings. waiting for the time to be ripe.


nino September 21, 2014 at 1:23 pm

You have been predicting a similar outcome for a long time and I still agree. Also I think that were such a populist leader to emerge he/she would be quite a nasty prospect probably making both Putin and Berlusconi seem quite mild by comparison. What depresses me even more is that whilst the Eton toffs have a good go at representing themselves and their friends they are at least representing their class. But what of the Labour Party? The leader with most egg on his face after hasty pre referendum promises is Ed Milliband. If we were talking of the Vatican the intimate relationships amongst their ruling elite would elicit many complaints of rampant nepotism. Failures of the left often lead to nasty populist outcomes. Labour failure to renew and keep in touch in the 70s led to Thatcher led to New Labour to ……? Nothing new sadly – failure and bickering in the Italian left in the early 20th C led to a tragic new political invention from within its own ranks.


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