Monday, 13 June 2011

Back to the future?

One of the golden rules about writing a political blogs like this is that if you want to be taken seriously you should write well argued posts which are fully referenced. Whatever you do, you should avoid having a rant! Now I know I've come very close to breaking this rule on a number of occasions but here is where I blow it wide open:

Did you watch the Royal Wedding? - have you noticed the praise given to Prince Phillip recently on his 90th birthday? These events were marked in the UK media by the kind of sickening sycophancy you would have thought died out many years ago. The Prince is a reactionary dinosaur of the highest degree. Despite the fact that he has managed to avoid making many public gaffes over the years he is still well known for the 'slitty eyed' gaffe he made about the Chinese years ago. What is so worrying about the recent Royal mania is that it seems to replicate the kind of deference that used to exist about sixty years ago - we appear to be heading backwards at an alarming rate.

On the Duke's birthday, Johan Hari said in the Independent:

"Today, you are being encouraged to celebrate a man who merrily visited a genocidal dictator and used the occasion to sneer at British democracy. A man whose political interventions even prompted complaints from the far-right Enoch Powell. A man who, at the height of mass unemployment, mocked the unemployed, while complaining his own family of multi-millionaires was financially deprived. A man who has shot countless examples of endangered species – and then sought praise for his protection of wildlife."

How right he was! But what really disturbs me is this; I grew up in the 1960s; at that time people were sick and tired of the UK being run by a moribund establishment, based on connections and privilege, closed to ordinary people, known as 'the old boys network' and populated by people like Prince Phillip. Thanks to scandals like the 'Profumo Affair', this ruling establishment was regularly mocked on TV by comedians like Peter Cooke, and in programmes like 'That Was the Week That Was'. People wanted change, and they got it through an opening up of opportunities, not perfect, but much better than anything that had gone before. Thousands of young people, many of them working class, were able to go to university for the first time, thanks to free higher education. Social mobility improved dramatically and inequality in the UK fell for the first time ever. Ordinary people were able to achieve things they could never have dreamed of under the old system.

Now this is all being reversed. David Cameron, far from being the 'boy next door' is a millionaire son of the ruling class. He is presiding over a reactionary government which is dragging us backwards to an age of connections, privilege and noblesse oblige - handouts from the rich. Anyone who thinks that increasing tuition fees to £9,000 a year and privatising higher education is a good thing is an idiot. Yet this, in the face of deficit cuts, is being presented as a kind of 'progress', and some people are stupid enough to think it is a good idea. The deficit, created by the bankers and capitalist class, is being used by this government as an excuse to drag us back at least half a century, undoing all the gains that have happened for ordinary people during that time.

Of course it's not just those who might have been able to go to university, as I did, who are being affected. Its everyone who is unemployed, disabled or low paid. Thanks to this government and the two previous ones, we have a chronic housing shortage. Low paid people who would have benefited from the council house building programmes of the 1950s and 1960s, and given some security in their lives, are being forced out of their homes by 'social cleansing', leaving ghettos for the rich. The unemployed, the victims of free market failures, are being vilified and treated like criminals. In addition, the incomes of all but the richest are being reduced to pay for the bankers deficit.

Where will this end, and how far does it have to go, before people will eventually wake up, smell the rotten stink of class war and privilege, and realise what is happening is unacceptable in a civilised society? How about bringing back feudalism, or slavery? Why not make the unemployed work for nothing, chained in the slave galleys of the big corporations? How long will it be before children are shoved up chimneys, so that we can 'compete' better with the impoverished and exploited of the Third World?

Perhaps what we need is a new Charles Dickens - someone who can reflect back to us the harsh realities of 21st century-19th century capitalism, or would that person be drowned out in the modern age, by the wall to wall bread and circuses of the new celebrity age?

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