Is this the new normal
By TruePublica Editor: On this day, during a speech before the second Virginia Convention in 1775, Patrick Henry responds to the increasingly oppressive British rule over the American colonies by declaring, “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” Henry had a point – as liberty is something in Britain we take for granted but is rapidly slipping away with an increasingly oppressive government. In more recent times, our liberty was being taken under the guise of security, now its a pandemic.
For instance, ten years ago this week, President Obama along with Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and their NATO allies, most notably – David Cameron’s Tory government, decided to invade Libya under the completely false narrative (that the mainstream media helped to perpetuate) that a ‘humanitarian intervention’ was required. It turned a country with the highest standard of living in Africa, with free healthcare and education for its people, into a failed state where human beings are now sold in open-air slave markets by warlords and gangsters. Terrorists proliferate in a climate such as this – and laws are changed to defend us from these manufactured foes.
The world order continued to slide and public protest or responses to injustice became a daily event. In 2011, Occupy Wall Street emerged. In 2013, Black Lives Matter was started by three females using a hashtag and then the #MeToo movement exploded in 2017. In the same decade, fake news was the news, and before anyone did anything about it, Donald Trump got elected and made everything much worse. His allies in the disinformation war – the likes of malign states and foreign actors such as Putin’s Russia, and think tanks armed with millions in dark money – have only coincided with China’s antagonistic rising power under Xi Jinping. The same playbook was used to drag Brexit over the line. Now we have trade wars, sanctions and international neighbours sniping at each other. It is all about the political shift from the centre-left to the right.
The iconography of the fall of social democracy is emblazoned with these names worldwide. In Britain, it is Farage, Hannon, Redwood, the ERG and its extreme free-market leaders such as Rees-Mogg, Baker, Braverman and Francois, to name a few. These are some of the political agitators that stoked the culture wars – designed primarily to bring the downfall of progressive social policies that have served us so well since the last world war. With these people in power, they talk of police crackdowns, increasing military expenditure and ramp up the cold war rhetoric to such an extent – we need hundreds of billions spent on a new arsenal of nuclear weapons to threaten each other.
This manoeuvre to the political right has turned what was completely unacceptable into the new reality of today. And even with the election of Biden, he is acutely aware that almost half of the American electorate voted for Trump – and has to act knowing the tinderbox is surrounded by match-lighters waiting for an excuse.
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The root cause of this social division, anger and frustration was the aftermath of 9/11 and the bank-led financial crisis. Both either impoverished or killed millions worldwide within a decade. The bankers crashed the system (because they were allowed to), took trillions to save their skins and ended up buying more Porsches. The bombing of Iraq cost the British taxpayer £9billion (officially) but the cost of our Middle East failures cost taxpayers in Britain something like £40billion if including the bombing of Syria (source). British taxpayers have been left with a national debt that then increased by well over £750billion as a direct result of these huge failures. Austerity kicked those that were down. Right-wing politicians latched onto the injustice of it all – and opportunistically and cynically used it to get votes. They took crooked money from crooked people, used it illegally to get around protective legislation and got their knees under the table at Downing Street. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Today, mainstream media headlines are focused on Britain’s record national debt, which has now surpassed £2 trillion. The government is now taxing the country at a greater level than 60 years ago when it was still paying down significant war-debts. In 1950, Britain’s national debt was well over 200 per cent of GDP. In 1960, it was half that – and in 1970, it was half again. By 1990 it was halved again to just 25 per cent – where it happily bumbled along until the financial crisis of 2008/9 (source). It then rocketed off, and by 2017, well before the pandemic arrived, it was on the approach to 90 per cent of GDP.
It was the post-war economic boom and inflation that drove down the national debt from the 1950s. The government of today knows it won’t be able to repeat this because it also knows that growth is not the answer – because there will be none (from the pre-pandemic levels of 2019) for at least a decade – if not longer.
In 2013, the UK economy was predicted to be the biggest in Europe, overtaking Germany by 2030 (source). Six weeks ago that prediction had changed to the UK economy significantly falling behind its European peers because of Brexit (source).
There will be lots of stories of the new boom as the country unlocks from the pandemic, but they will be disinformation campaigns. Yes, there will be a spike of activity but it will be a decade before we get back to the economic activity levels of 2019 and onto a path of sustained growth.
In ten years of Tory government, what has actually been achieved? Rising child poverty, overall poverty, homelessness and destitution are shameful outputs of any wealthy nation – and we have all of these. Iain Duncan-Smith – one of the nastiest leaders of class-war politics in Britain drove on with the flagship policy failure that is ‘universal credit.’ The United Nations said that UC was causing – “the UK’s poorest people to face lives that are solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”. And when Covid has receded, and the effects of Brexit get a grip – it is forecast to only get worse.
Other new records have been achieved under this government. The housing crisis has got worse, and affordable housing output has plummeted. Food banks have exploded to such an extent that they now outnumber McDonald’s outlets across the country.
In ten years we’ve actually seen cuts of 20,000 army personnel, 5,000 from the navy, 5,000 RAF, 2,000 Royal Marines, 60,000 NHS, 21,000 police, 10,000 prison officers, 7,000 PCSO, 730,000 from the public sector, 12,000 firemen. It begs a simple question – did it work? Obviously not – as this legacy saw growth stunted – much of which has now been promised to be reversed.
But there’s more – mental health issues have rocketed whilst desperately needed youth services were drastically cut – and that was before the pandemic had arrived. Education budgets were slashed and cuts to incapacity and disability services have been reprehensible, immoral and deadly.
And what have we got to show for all this?
For decades, whilst civil society has tended to be seen as liberal – that is supportive of human rights, democratic reform and areas such as the protection of minorities – it has now been highjacked as the cause of all evils, has to be stopped and the people organising them ostracised. Or as they like to put it today – cancelled. It’s just another facet of the divisive culture wars instigated by the right that the left responds to.
Today, civil society involves an increasingly diverse mix of people and political goals, with those on the right gaining significant traction. It’s not just here in Britain but in many European countries such as Italy, France and Germany – and of course – a deeply troubled America.
An obvious ally of the fall of normality and civility within society itself was the hateful, hostile and malevolent forces that brought us both Brexit and Boris Johnson. And now that they are both here – what do we have?
Britain is now not just divided by its newfound form of binary politics; it is being defined by divisive culture wars, spiteful class wars and now, the very noticeable erosion of civil liberties. Democracy itself is being sacrificed on the altar of this malicious ideology. They needed democracy to get there – but don’t like it once in the door. Brexit and the forces that pushed it have become a powerful cult – just like religion.
What do you think is coming down the line with these people in power?
TruePublica was started in 2015 to help counteract the fake news culture of political disinformation. It also constantly warned that the right-wing element of Conservatism would bring a never-ending erosion of democracy and slowly usher in a lite version of authoritarianism. Terror laws created 20 years ago are now routinely being abused by local authorities and government agencies in “petty and vindictive” cases involving ‘crimes’ such as dog fouling (source). By 2016, 12 councils in England were caught using unmanned aerial vehicles for “covert operations” to spy on residents using terror laws as legal cover. By 2020 it became a criminal offence not to hand over a personal password to any government agency that simply asks for it (source). And just a month ago we find that data, including that of your private and most intimate health records, have been sold to foreign organisations looking to profit from it (source). Life is to become ‘managed.’
Under the guise of Covid – and during the calendar year of 2020, nearly 300 new laws and emergency powers have been granted (source). They cover everything from the use of animal controls to prisons and taxes. What they also include are draconian state powers that we may never see repealed. The very authoritarian Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill says an awful lot about the degrading state of our country today.
Even some on the right of the Tory party are saying enough is enough. For instance, Steve Baker, former Chairman of the free-market extremists of the ERG that pushed for a hard Brexit said that – “The Coronavirus Act has created the most dangerous changes to state power seen in a generation.”
The truth is that there is now is a significant shift in the trajectory of power. It has enabled a feedback loop. Accept donors money, use it to get around outdated protective democratic legislation to get into power – then feed the hand that feeds you. It’s a system that nurtures cronyism, corruption, nepotism and political lawlessness. And we have seen an exponential rise of all these things in the last year alone.
The reason why protest laws are being changed in favour of power – is because those that are in power are expecting public anger to rise. Some influential Conservatives are now even pushing the idea that a special national militarised police force is created and tasked specifically to aggressively quell public protest, with special training, equipment and budgets separate from the police force that currently exists (source). For them, new powers being handed to the police to refuse the right of peaceful protest is not enough. I reiterate as always, the police officers themselves are doing as they are ordered. To do anything else would be a disciplinary offence just as ti would in the armed forces. But the police force is being politicised – another characteristic of authoritarianism.
By the next election, Covid will have receded but its legacy will not. At the same time, Brexit will be laid bare for what it always was – an excuse to grab power. Economically, both will be a disaster for Britain. Just as the Tories destroyed the last vestiges of the empire in 1956 with its failed bid to secure power in the Suez Canal, Brexit will drive home the last nail in the coffin as the union of four nations suffers years of nationalistic infighting.
Soon, we will be told that everything that has gone wrong will be the fault of everyone except ourselves – and to provide cover to that illusion, more culture wars and divisive tactics will be used. This is the new norm. This is what the Tories have brought us – hatred and anger – mainly to cover their ongoing failures.
Lastly, it should be said, that throughout this entire period, there has been no political opposition. Corbyn, who manifestly refused to take any real position on Brexit – effectively handed Johnson his big break. You can argue all you like about how, why and what. I said Corbyn would dramatically fail, many others did – and he did. Now we have Starmer who has manifestly refused to allow anyone to understand what he or the labour party does for a living. Being in opposition is not one of them – obviously. And all this plays into the hands of a power-hungry zealot – described even by moderate voices as self-serving, opportunistic, sexist, homophobic and racist. But he’s not just those things is he and nor is his government?
The British people voted for a government of delusional bullies and lobbyists. The government have been fully supported by a complaint snivelling media owned by a small cabal of offshore billionaires. The cabinet is now driven by free-market extremists, con-artists and Little Englanders exemplified by the very people who brought us all these problems. Political factions such as the ERG, the Northern Research Group, Covid Research Group and so on now rule the roost.
Britain has not stepped up to the challenge of the 21st century – demonstrated by an archaic voting system in FPTP and an even worse system of so-called checks and balances in the House of Lords. There are no real protections in place for our democracy against social media and the ministerial code is about as useful as manifesto promises or ‘pledges’ as they like to put it today. Lying and cheating by the very people who are supposed to be setting an example is now as commonplace as their actions to avoid scrutiny or accountability.
This is the new environment – the new normal. You can smell the failure and sense the downward descent can’t you?