Saturday, 15 January 2011

Even I Hesitate...

I love a bit of hyperbole, me.

A cathartic, Bevanite satire or a passionate rant.

Yet, there are certain things more eagle eyed readers may notice I've avoided. There are cheap shots to be had here, in the world of Disability campaigning and I shy away from them.

At the same time, history could tell us much today, if we only listened. If we went back to the early thirties, when MacDonald and Snowden insisted cuts were the only way out of recession, paving the way for the greatest depression in modern history, we might feel differently about the current austerity programme. Blair might have re-read Bevan's great speech to the house on Suez to remember that one ought to have a damn good reason to go to war.

So it is in this article:

I hesitate, as I don't need to use such a graphic example to highlight modern day cuts to the sick and disabled that are already easy enough to oppose. That's not what I'm doing here.

At the same time, when health allows, I love to go canvassing or phone banking or sit at Labour street stalls, and polling stations, and I know well that most people have lives to live. They don't read 1931 Hansard snippets or have a PHD in economics or history. They go to work, they pay the bills, they struggle to get by and have any time left to spend with the kids. One can only assume history won't repeat if you're confident that each and every person knows what that history is. The atrocities in the article above took place in the early thirties too and economic meltdown and early fascism were close bedfellows.

So, again, in 2011 we face swingeing cuts and "tough choices." We teeter on the brink of a world depression and Keynesian stimulus has given way to monetarist, neo-liberal dogma. So, without ever suggesting our own coalition are even the same species as the early fascists, it may just be timely to remind the world - whether right wing crazy-men, shooting congresswomen in Arizona or assassins in Pakistan -  what unfettered ignorance can conceal, what "turning a blind eye" can countenance and what short memories allow.
Proof hate and ignorance can thrive in dreadful times.


  1. Sue, vodeo link does not work

  2. Better? Perhaps the wrong word, but yes the video works. Thanks.
    What on earth is happening to the world.
    My parents are no longer alive, but I wonder what did they fight for? ... What was the war all about? Wasn't Hiltler defeated? Apparently the world has not learned anything at all.
    What is happening in the US is dreadful, the video made me cry.

    But what is happening in the UK is not far behind. Your blog is soaring uo the ratings not because of your vanity, but because those who read it do care, and care enough to realise that something needs to be done.
    Those who support Osborne and vote for him are guilty. And since there is the coaltion the LibDems are part of this. Are these Liberal policies? Is this what they voted for?

  3. Oh Pam, times are hard.
    I have to make it clear that I don't for one second think the link to nazism is in any way being repeated here.

    There is however, a surge of scapegoating, callousness and stereotyping that I find very unpalatable indeed. YouTube clip made me cry too and I want to punch that arrogant arse throwing dollar bills every time I watch it.

  4. Great post thanks Sue. It's scheduled for 1030 today on the OMBH blog BG Xx

  5. Oh BSS, I'm pleased. I thought long and hard about publishing it at all.

    I tried to be very reasonable in it and hope people understand what I was trying to say.

    I tweeted and facebooked til I couldn't sleep or talk yesterday, so will take it easier today and hope for lots of Monday spoons and a happy CiF editor, lol

  6. Thank you for a very interesting and thought provoking blog Sue. Sometimes in this awful modern world with its 'cult of celebrity and perfection' we need hyperbole to get across the *real* facts of life.
    Please keep writing - and I hope you don't mind that I have pinched your Ghandi quote for my new campaigning sig file!

  7. Sue:
    I am sure that is understood that the clip is meant as a warning.
    There are parties in this country not dissimilar to Sarah Palin's.

    The shock of the clip and the Nazi reference is effective in making people think about the values and history.

    My reply was also intended to remind the Liberals of their values too.
    Ed Milliband's inviting LibDems to work with Labour is well timed.
    Most are not comfortable with the Tory policies, I am sure.

  8. No problem at all Elizannie - not my quote, if only, lol

    Pam - That's good. I'm not tweeting or spreading this one, just let it do it's thing.

  9. Since we're exchanging cheap shots. It's worth mentioning that it was a Tory Prime Minister leading this country's last Tory-led Coalition government that rallied this country and beat the Nazis and saved the lives of millions of people around the world. And now a Tory led-calition is beating the deficit, reforming the country and saving the lives of a few people around the world (through higher aid spending).

  10. StephenThe Tory Coalition is bringing in policies which will bring poverty to many families in this country at a time when the gap between the rich and poor is greater than it has been for forty years.
    Pointing that out isn't really a cheap shot. Just truth. Sue is doing a great job making people aware of the plight faced by so many.

  11. @Stephen: It is funny how often when a salient point is made against the current government it is called a 'cheap shot' by that government's supporters. Yet if we look at the record to date of the current government - I don't really think that quoting the war-time *National* government has a lot to do with this government's record - its methods of 'beating the deficit' are not universally acknowledged by all economists to be the 'best method'. Some of the improvements have in fact been traced back to measures taken by the last government [oh guess what they were Labour!] And before you say it was the Labour government that caused the deficit I could just add a few words like 'world financial crisis' and 'bankers' but of course then you would add the words 'cheap shot' and I would have to answer......
    So far the Coalition Government has alienated amongst others:
    Students and their families
    Lecturers and their families
    Teachers and their families
    Pupils over 16[ema abolished] and their families
    Disabled and their families
    Many workers and their families[jobs lost etc..]
    Some of the other not so good things:
    NHS cuts
    Fire Brigade
    Cuts in coastguard service and privatising of Air Sea Rescue[good job we are not an island race. Oh goodness, we are!]
    Looks like the unions are next up for a clobbering?
    Any who gained?
    Bankers seem OK
    Private medicine and education seems to be the way to go if you have the financial ability. [When Marx said "from each according to his ability" I really don't think he meant *financial* ability]
    Reforming the country? At what a cost?

    Sorry about the rant, Sue. I didn't intend it - it somehow happened!

  12. Elizannie - on the whole if you read Stephen's comment he's more annoyed that I mention what a complete disaster austerity and cuts were in the thirties than he is over the history lesson.
    Just sooo inconvenient to point out what an absolute mash up the cuts were then and therefore how very wrong they are today

  13. Sue

    You are so right to highlight the parallels between the 30's and now... I know my mother is very 'bothered' by the similarities having lived through both.

    Many people share with you their concern about the outcome of the increasingly polarised and extreme positions which are being adopted in response to neoliberalism. The disparities in wealth between the few and the overwhelming majority spells IMO a very real danger and our current government is not only failing to address this situation but is exacerbating it by governing only for the rich and to re-direct more their way.

    It should be remembered that the richest 1000's wealth has quadrupled (from 100bn to 400bn) since the bankers crashed the global economy!

  14. Stephen Wigmore claims -
    " was a Tory Prime Minister leading this country's last Tory-led Coalition government that rallied this country and beat the Nazis..."
    - Not only is this a cheap shot but it's inaccurate.
    All political parties suspended normal parliamentary party politics for the whole duration of the war.
    The Tories did not win World War II, the people of Britian did, who fought and died to make this a nation a land fit for heroes. As soon as World War II was over they got rid of the Tories and built the welfare state for ordinary people. They will be spinning in the graves at the treatment of sick, ill and disabled people are being treated by their own government.

    And now a Tory led-calition is beating the deficit...
    - They ConDem Government is merely repeating the mistakes of the past, retrenchment in government public spending.
    The reason the depression was so bad in the Hungry Thirties was because the public sector of the economy was so small and wasn't able to cushion society from the effects of the last major financial bubble exploding, The Wall Street Crash 1929.
    This time around, it's precisely because government public spending takes up 50% of the economy that the damage caused by the irresponsible, irrational, "socially usesless", de-regulated, neo-liberal corporate finanical sector has been contained somewhat.

    By "beating the deficit" you mean, forcing those who weren't responsible for the financial crash to pay the bills of the bankrupt finance sector, and face all the social costs and problems created by the banks. The public didn't create the free-market deficit, so why should they public pay the costs of it?

  15. Just to remind people that the Nazis had two ways of getting rid of their victims -
    - Execution
    - Exhaustion

    The infamous words above many Nazi concentration camps (and a death camp) where they worked many of their victims to death -
    Arbiet Macht Frei

    How appropriate that our own government should label a welfare entitlement benefit for British sick and disabled people as 'Employment and Support Allowance' which makes no reference to health whatsoever.

    It's all so empowering and setting us all free, I'm sure you'll all agree.

    It's easy to call all this hyperbole, but then, it's easy to call what this government is doing to millions of sick, ill and disabled people as organised state abuse. Millions of people don't just suddenly become available for work simply because there is a change of government. Although, to be fair, the ConDem Government and their pals in the corporate media are trying their best to make the sick and disabled disappear, by whatever means short of the actual ones used by the Nazis. Aren't we the lucky ones.

  16. A very interesting analysis. All I know is that 'may you live in interesting times' is a curse.
    I don't think anyone could possibly think you're comparing the current government to Nazis. The thing is that...the Nazis didn't just suddenly come to power out of nowhere. And they didn't campaign by saying 'We hate Jews and gay people and disabled people and will murder them'. If you let small-minded conservatism in, if you let people think that many disabled people are lazy scroungers, immigrants and asylum seekers are out for what they can get and so on...that kind of creeping minor prejudice lays the groundwork for worse prejudice, and it's a slippery slope. The BNP are making gains and they *are* fascists, I don't believe for one moment their claims that they are not racist. It could happen again, all too easily.

  17. The state culling of of superfluous and excess population by withdrawing the NHS and the welfare state from looking after their needs, moves on to include the poor -
    Top consultant: no point in screening for bowel cancer in deprived areas
    Herald Scotland
    16 Jan 2011

    Angus Macdonald, consultant colorectal surgeon at Monklands Hospital in Airdrie... comments are likely to provoke more controversy after a leading public health expert and former adviser to the then Scottish Executive, Professor Phil Hanlon, sparked an outcry when our sister newspaper The Herald revealed his call for the NHS to give elderly people less treatment as they approach the end of their lives.

  18. For those of you having a bit of a sense of humour failure. That was a slightly tongue-in-cheek comment.

    Contrary to the somewhat self-righteous assumption of those who assumed I must be referring to any criticism of the government as a cheap shot, I was obviously referring to the drawing a connection (with however much qualification) between the current government, the nazis murder of disabled people and indirectly the holocaust, which Sue herself pretty much said was a cheap shot.

    "Even I Hesitate... "
    "Yet, there are certain things more eagle eyed readers may notice I've avoided. There are cheap shots to be had here,"
    "I hesitate,"

    And I am aware that my own comment was somewhat simplistic and incomplete, hence EXCHANGING cheap shots.

    And Joe90, if we really want to talk about "The Tories did not win World War II, the people of Britian did,", ignoring the fact you may have missed that Tories are part of the people of britain too. You may want to to consider that it was "the people of britain" who voted in the National Government of the 30's, you look down on so much, in the two largest landslides in 20th century british history and hence should presumably share some of the credit for their success or lack of it.

    I am a supporter of this site and its campaign against the welfare cuts for disabled people.

    I was not aware one had to be from a narrow left-wing or labour party orthodoxy about the deficit or anything else to do that. Is that the case?

  19. I didn't say Tories weren't part of the people of Britian. A pedantic and tedious point.

    You were the one that decided to claim that victory over the Nazis was somehow a Tory victory, when it was nothing of the kind. If anything, it was the Tories who were responsible for the war ever being allowed to happen in the first place. That's why, the first election after the war, the people of Britian got rid of them and built a Britian fit for heroes to live in.

    It was the same Tories who, as part of the British Governments of the 1930s, who led Britian into a world war with their disasterous policy of appeasement. Pardon me if I look down on supporters of 1920s and 1930s Nazi and fascist governments abroad.

  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

  21. To be honest I have no wish to have an argument. I just joined in what I thought was a relatively good natured discussion with, as I said, a slightly tongue in cheek point.

    Contrary to your various accusations all my comment actually said and meant to say was that a tory prime minister led this country to victory in WW2. Its pretty widely accepted that Winston Churchill had this role, and was a tory. If you object to the phrasing that winston churchill won the war for us, then that's perfectly reasonable, though that language is common from plenty of people across the political spectrum who aren't me. It's a bit hyperbolic, but it's not meant to imply or belittle the contribution of others in the government or the rest of the British or Allied peoples.

    And I think you'll find Hitler was responsible for the war, not Chamberlain or anyone else in Britain. Chamberlain as well as the tory, liberal and labour party people who supported him at the time were doing their best to avoid another horrific war like the first world war. and this was a perfectly honourable thing to do. And at the time Chamberlain's policy of appeasement was massively popular among the people of this country, who also wanted to avoid another war. They were opposed only by a small number of tory and labour politicians. If you hate people who supported appeasement then you hate the vast majority of the "people of Britian" at the time. Personally I think they were decent people trying to do the right thing at a very difficult time.

    Like I said though, I really have no wish to have a fight about all this. I am willing to admit I may have misjudged the tone of the discussion by being slightly flippant. I think we have got off on the wrong foot and would be better off leaving things there. Like I said, I support Sue's campaign and oppose the government's cuts to disabled people. I hope to be able to campaign alongide you all in this important issue.

  22. Stephen and Joe - Sorry It's taken me so long to join in!! #ombh was very full on!!

    I think passions run very high on this, which was EXACTLY why I was so hesitant to post on it. For a lot of us, passions are running high full stop.

    To be as honest as I can, the other thing I try not to mention is Cameron's son Ivan. I can't think of anything more harrowing than losing a child - it just happened to a friend of mine recently *shudder*. The problem is, that Cameron made some very big statements at that time and HE discussed NHS and disability policy at the time of his death, so it's very hard not to quote him on it. I think it also gave many voters who would never vote Con the confidence to trust him with the NHS and the vulnerable.

    Breaking that covenant, then leaves him open to criticism, but it's a criticism I'm loathed to make. (Hence trusting you guys with it here, but not making a big deal on the blog, lol)

    Stephen, of COURSE we want you to campaign with us - we want everyone to see what's happening.

    As for Tories and Nazis - Churchill switched from Lib to Con, Ramsey Mac ducked off to Queen behind Lab's back and ultimately, it WAS the Tories we remember as the greatest allies in WWII. Sounds like Churchill was a pretty hopeless PM but his dazzling rhetoric may well have saved the world. Horses for courses, the right person for the right time.

    When Lab were electing a leader, I got very despondent at the bickering and division I felt. Nothing serious, but if Lab are to become a broader church, we need to accept all views and find the common ground instead of focussing on our differences.

  23. Thanks Stephen.

    Churchill was a tory, and so were the those who sucked up to Nazis and fascists prior to the war.

    The fact he was a tory had nothing whatsoever to do with his role as a war leader - he was specifically the war PM precisely because he opposed the policy of British Government appeasemnet of the Nazis throughout the 1930s. The Labour Party refused to serve under the Tories like Chamberlian, who were guilty of sucking up to the Nazis, which is why they found Churchill so acceptable and why they agreed to suspend normal Westminster party politics for the duration of the war.

    The fact is, the Tories knew a war was coming because they started re-arming well before war actually took place, so the defence that appeasement was their way of doing the right thing while hoping for the best, doesn't really add up.

    The pre-war British Government could have stopped Hitler any time but instead allowed him to get stronger until such time as he became unstoppable and war became inevitable. The 'guilty men' have a certain blame in propelling Europe into furnace of World War II.