Friday 29 October 2010

Stand up my People

I'm 37 and what memory I have of protest and unions comes from a very different world.

I vaguely remember Arthur Scargill filling the news bulletins and Ken Livingstone when he was still "Red Ken" and hippy women in shabby parkas painting their faces with CND symbols.

My hazy memories also tell me it's pointless.

Arthur Scargill failed and the miners went back to work, their pits closing one by one up and down the country until the coal industry was finished. Ken managed to be elected Mayor of London under a Blair government and the CND movement just drifted away.

Maggie went on to crush the unions and it became accepted rhetoric that they were divisive agitators. it became unpopular to join a union and today, most young people probably don't have a clue what they do.

Yet, later in her reign we saw the Poll Tax riots. Hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens took to the streets and told Thatcher that enough was enough. Later, under Blair, over a million people took to the streets of London to protest what they saw as an illegal war.

This coalition has taken us by surprise. As the brilliant article above points out, we've been totally duped and the only thing that remains to be seen is how long will the British people allow themselves to be treated as fools? It took 11 years under Margaret Thatcher, by which time we'd seen whole industries decimated, unemployment soar and our public services dismantled. Under Blair, protests took until 2003 to really get off the ground, 6 years after he was elected.

Now, we have a new coalition who pledged no swingeing cuts, who pledged to protect our NHS and who pledged to look after our poor and vulnerable. We are still in the "honeymoon period" of a new government and it is rare that opinion can change so swiftly from "Time for Change" to "Oh God, what have we done?"

Osborne can let Vodafone off a 6 Billion Tax bill while cutting vital support for adults in residential care because we let him. Lansley can take our NHS apart only if we allow it. Gove can experiment on our school system, taking money from the poorest schools to give to the richest if we let him do it.

Just think back to May 6th. Cameron didn't win. Osborne didn't win. Clegg didn't win. We didn't trust them. We weren't convinced that they were suddenly "Compassionate Conservatives" and even after 13 long years in opposition, we still didn't trust them enough to hand them the kind of power they now wield. Nick Clegg has tacked on a handy majority, allowing the Conservatives to act like the Chosen Ones. They aren't and we must not forget it for one moment.

We, the people, have the choice to get rid of them tomorrow, but we have to make that choice. A government cannot govern without the will of the people. 8 Men in a backroom don't get to cobble together a deal that no-one voted for.

We've spent so long paying no attention, we've spent so long thinking things will never change, that we've forgotten what to do, but we can speak out today or we can speak out in ten years time.

By then it will be too late.


  1. Brilliant post! If you've got any time to spare helping us get BofB up and running I'd be so grateful. Email BG x

  2. Sue - Yet again you've written it for me!

    6/10y time is too late - the damage is already happening and will get worse - Now is the time to react!

    New Labour has so much to answer for in letting Osborne/Cameron through. The abandonment of a socialist ideology and the apparent tory-lite policies have left voters disillusioned and distrustful, and hence disempowered, with nowhere to take their opposition.

    We need to get organisied. We need the LP to back any and all in the fightback. We need to be blasting the media with articles and feedback - criticising the poor journalism. We need to be challenging the blatant lies and spin.... and we need you to keep blogging.


  3. Thanks Sue,

    The internet gives us the voice. I've had amazing support from other bloggers, politicians and readers. We CAN do this.

  4. The post is great sue.

    I have the feeling we are sleep-walking into a trap that will result in the abandonment of Universal Benefits, and the dismantling of the public sector across the world.

    The Credit Crunch entirely served the benefit of the Corporates over the State. The Financial World 'messed' up, and the only medicine that the international financial world will accept is a full scale retreat of the Public Sector. Once this has occurred, just watch the corporate world takeover every part of our lives. Of course, we will have no democratic way of removing them if we don't want them.

    Perhaps I may seem paranoid, or read too many conspiracy theories, but this feeling remains in the back of my mind.

    May I shamelessly plug a blog I am doing - 'The Road to Batley Market'

    Not up to your standard, but I will try.

  5. Sue,

    Great post.

    Vodaphone O2 Orange etc. print money. daylight robbery for little customer service in return. Faceless muggers, praying on Teens with crushes among other addicted users.

    They should be taxed at least £1.5 billion p.a. (collectively) Use it to help solve our NEETs problem.

  6. Plug away Mr K!! I've found the blogosphere a generous place, all the best.

    Eoin - It just get's worse by the day. How's the Big Society thing going? Thanks for the plug last night by the way, I still read.

  7. If the facts about Vodafone are as presented, then it does indeed seem shocking, but as they are a private company, customers can simply vote with their feet and go to other providers or (shock, horror) give up their mobile phone. We have no such sanctions against politicians except every 5 years.

    Incidentally, I see that the article you link to makes the common mistake of confusing tax evasion with tax avoidance. Tax avoidance is legal, and on a personal level includes things like puting money in an ISA. I trust you are not suggesting that ISA holders should be pursued by the Revenue?

  8. Sue,

    I would not want to rush to judgement on it. (Big S). I am forming a fairly strong opinion on it is all i can say.

  9. Furthermore, the banks will escape tax on future profits because they can wite-off losses in previous years (losses that were made good by us)

    I suspect we are stuck with words like "blog" and "blogosphere" but they annoy me because they lack the power of words like "campaign"

    THe difference between tax evasion and legal avoidance is interesting to me, because politicians like Osborne often find themselves being held to account on a moral basis, rather than a straightforward legal one. So his tax free inheritance to come , while legal, can still be a chink in his armour. Likewise Cameron's tax-payer funded mortgage over the last years (£24k+?)

    Campaigns and protest would find much more traction in pointing out moral discrepancies in the legal activities.

    John TT

  10. John TT,

    Long time no hear... are you on the naughty step?

  11. He gave up in annoyance at the moderation!! I see the non-partisan mask slipped a bit today.
    Well John, mine is certainly a campaign. (Big up to Alastair Campbell today who helped) I will make sure that the sickness benefits never go away for this government. Not for a single day.

  12. Hi Eoin -
    The naughty step indeed stymied my attempts to leaven the debate. Being in moderation means you don't get to converse, and worse, get to see conversations between rather blinkered puppets sailing through because, presumably, they are of a hue that chimes with the moderator's constituency and are seen to add "texture".

    I admit my objection to the Tories dropping the essentially Tory idea of the Child Trust Fund because the LibDems told them to provoked a partisan reaction from me on that site, so I was cut off.

    I'm all about level playing fields, and I wished Osborne would have had the guts to stick to his policy of cutting the leveller to £50 temporarily. He gave in to Clegg, who doesn't see the point of kids growing up with a bit of savings put by for long term. The "junior ISA" might come in eventually, but I can't bear the thought of my son sitting in class with kids six months his junior who don't have even the meagre leg-up my son will have from the tax-payer at large.

    I am pretty sure that the power of protest endures - as I'm sure Eoin experiences in his benighted island - and long may that power inspire people to pursue justice.

    I'd love to see debate framed in entirely moral terms, rather than the pragmatic terms that allow for loop-holes.

    I get most of my knowledge from Yes Minister dvd's - to-day's Cameron victory in Europe made me laugh . Jim Hacker would be spinning in his grave.

  13. Irony intended in that last phrase!

  14. Haha, just realised people reading who didn't post on UKPR must wonder why on earth everyone on my comments thread has two names.
    By the way, Mr K are you Garry K? Sorry if I really am that thick that I didn't realise.