Traditional British values sacrificed by doctrine of Brexit
How is Britain characterised today? Is it its venerated universities or contribution to culture, literature, and the arts? Maybe innovations that drove its industrial empire, or its overwhelming influence on the ‘anglosphere.’ Actually, fundamental British values are defined and taught in schools, promoted and measured by Ofstead and by government.
These are the simple and noble aims of British values defined as follows: ‘democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs, and for those without faith’.
And yet, the Britain of today is descending into a world of have’s and have nots, is defined by inequality, by state lawlessness and by the disintegration of the bond between nation and state. And these values and the institutions that support them are being undermined by the quasi ideology of Brexit.
In the meantime, homelessness has soared. Families with young children are sleeping on night buses. People with disabilities have been ruthlessly abandoned. British children have been unable to access their citizenship, leaving many ‘stateless’. Seven million people live in persistent, endless poverty with few real ways out. Then there are the never-ending reports of the crisis of food parcels, survival sex – and this is just scratching the surface of a country about to fall into the grip of government driven and funded by corporatism and the dark money agenda of anonymous oligarchs – with a (deregulative) program of plans designed around exploitative commercialism.
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These are the practices that represent an affront to human rights, democracy, the rule of law, liberty, respect and tolerance. They are the actions of those who dream of untold wealth by creating their own advantage.
The choice facing Britain’s voters are blunt and yet simple. It is not just about Corbyn or Johnson or as simple as socialism on the left or neoliberal capitalism on the right – it is much bigger.
We should not forget what Brexit has brought us already. The Americanisation of Britain’s political structure is overseeing the dismantling of our own parliamentary system of checks and balances. Boris Johnson, his government, shady backers and the political campaigners of Brexit have been proven to have a truly breathtaking record of lawbreaking. The result is that the principles of Britain’s democracy is being smothered.
Britain is about to pivot not just from its aforementioned social democratic values but away the relative safety of the European Union towards the unrestrained commercialism of free-market fundamentalism and the unbridled individualism that the USA is known for.
Britain is not Russia or China or some despot third-world nation. It is currently going through a shaky political moment in its long history – but then, so is America, Spain, Sweden, France, Italy and even Germany. So what’s the big deal?
This pivot is far more serious than the public is being told. If Boris Johnson is elected with a decent majority this pivot to America will proceed. And what of it? It is not just that as we have all read, that deregulation will be engine driver of the economy, there’s something else that needs to be considered as a dutiful puppet of a voracious self-serving corporate America.
America has its economic and global geopolitical ambitions rooted in facing off against China, Europe and their allies (such as those in Asia- including Russia, the Middle East and Africa). They are already spread too thinly. America’s new aggressive posture towards these emerging superpowers is where the Anglosphere or so-called ‘five-eyes’ is to be focused – and Britain’s task will be to undermine Europe. This is why at the end of 2020 – a hard Brexit will happen.
All the while, during the next few months, the British media will be fighting over chlorinated chickens and carcinogenic chemicals in lipstick, while the government, its agencies and military have its objectives reconstructed in Washington DC. And another thing many have not thought of – it is Inevitable that Britain’s global trade deals will be limited by America’s geopolitical ambitions.
But back at home, away from the rising international geopolitical crisis will be the advance in Britain of what is termed a ‘guided economy’ due to the imposition of the festival of deregulation to enable American goods and services to be more freely available. Here, corporation’s get to decide what is good for you and what is not. Europe’s ‘precautionary principle’ that has protected society from the worst of corporatism will be discarded.
In the meantime, those traditional values of democracy, the rule of law, liberty, respect and tolerance are being eroded by legislation such as those Boris Johnson has awarded himself in his Brexit deal.
The war against ordinary people
Let’s make no mistake here – Boris Johnson’s manifesto, if anything, proves beyond any doubt that austerity was not just a failure, it was an economic war against those less able to defend themselves against the ravages of a financial system that imploded. Ten years later – the government of the day is having to jettison its own party values and flagship polices in a populists bid to save their leader. Hence, the promise of 50,000 NHS nurses, 20,000 police officers, controlled immigration and investment in education – all drenched in the language of propaganda. Just like ‘taking back control’ has proven to be a mirage – “Let’s get Brexit done” is just another fantasy – as it cannot actually be done by their own self-imposed deadline.
These central columns of social policy announced in a manifesto will not materialise. The Tories have form. David Cameron promised to fix broken Britain – and broke everything. Theresa May promised to help the ‘just about managing’ but brushed them aside to save her political skin and Johnson’s ‘Manifesto Guarantee‘ is already seen to be abandoning traditional Tory values in favour of ‘getting Brexit done’, whilst actually meaning selling out to America and abandoning its people to face the will of the corporations.
And yet, after all the fake promises, no mention has been made of the underlying problems affecting the crisis of daily life in Britain. According to the LGA, almost 60p out of every £1 provided from central to local government will have been cut between 2010 and 2020. The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) recently admitted that by 2020 only 5% of local authorities are “fully confident” they can meet their legal duties to provide care.
As an example of this social policy mirage – in his first speech as prime minister, Johnson made fixing the care system for older people a priority. “We will fix the crisis in social care once and for all, and with a clear plan we have prepared to give every older person the dignity and security they deserve,” he said outside Downing Street. However, his manifesto completely omits social care of the elderly – and only mentions discussions to tackle it.
In the meantime, traditional British values are being sacrificed one by one, day by day.
We have a government that is contented with using military perfected systems (of technology) to subvert the democratic principles of elections, to use mass disinformation and propaganda campaigns at taxpayer expense to subvert democracy, of suspending parliament, threatening and purging elected MP’s and using the Emergency Powers Act if it doesn’t get its way. It is a government immersed in (as Democratic Audit describes) concealment and non-disclosure – cover-ups to you and me. It is hiding who it is funded by and what their backers want in return.
Rule of Law
Leaving aside threats to break the law (Benn Act) over Brexit, where Britain’s constitutional democracy has been severely challenged, there is another set of laws being broken. Austerity has pushed local authorities over the edge and a range of unlawful practices that place a barrier between people and the services has emerged. For instance, Mencap, who support people with learning disabilities, report on some of their service users where “people are denied care to wash themselves, are falling prey to sexual predators, drug dealers, and financial abuse because they are missing out on the support they need to stay safe.” In another example, the Home Office is regularly accused of actively ignoring the plight of those cases surrounding immigration or citizenship. This was highlighted by the Windrush scandal but by no means is that an isolated matter. The extraordinary and persistent illegality of the security services in Britain emerged in a recent court case as did the illegality of mass citizen surveillance data gathering in another. The list of government lawbreaking is too long to publish here but is rising rapidly.
The list of attacks against civil liberty and human rights is now seemingly never-ending. From the abusive use of the Terrorism Act to the Espionage Act and everything in between – the government has chosen to view civil liberty as a mere annoyance in its attempts to control dissidents and protestors. Arrests of law-abiding citizens defending their communities against Frackers destroying their homes and the mass arrests of Extinction Rebellion protests in London in October is unlawful and are legally defined as direct attacks against our liberty. However, a state out of control is no better on display with the solitary confinement and abuses described by the UN as torture on political prisoner Julian Assange. The same can be said of Britain ignoring a 13 to 1 against vote at the UN over the Chagos Islands. These are just a handful of examples of a disgraceful display of government overreach.
A key architect of the ongoing Brexit shambles, uses inflammatory language, casual racism, misinformation and propaganda along with a hypocrisy never seen in modern Britain as the cornerstone of policy. Boris Johnson displays a lack of respect for the very institutions that supports civil society by using wrecking ball strategies to gain power. His admiration and loyalty to his birthplace and of Trump that could facilitate a truly disastrous, bargain-basement trade deal with the US means disrespecting 70 years of social democracy and civil society protections for what – a few years of power.
Hate crimes have risen dramatically in Britain since right-wing politicians within the Conservative party unleashed Brexit. In 2012-13 there were about 40,000 reported cases of hate crimes centred on race, religion, disability and sexual orientation. today – that number has soared nearly 300% to 110,000. The reality is that extreme views are gaining ground in mainstream political parties. At the end of an 11-day visit investigating the impact of Brexit on racial equality in the UK last year, a UN special rapporteur on racism reported a “notable shift” in attitudes. E Tendayi Achiume said that – “a Brexit-related trend that threatens racial equality in the UK has been the growth in the acceptability of explicit racial, ethnic and religious intolerance.”
What we are seeing witnessing is the rapid destruction of the very principles that have upheld civil society in Britain for a very long time. They were not given by our government past or present, they were fought for. Boris Johnson and his government have an absolutely shocking record on spreading misinformation, smears and lies. The same can be said of those involved in the Brexit campaigns of 2016 that has spilled out in everyday life and continues to divide the country. But by far the worst political and economic prospect is that Britain, under a Tory government, is facing a hard-Brexit, a pivot away from our neighbours towards America – which will come at the end of 2020. Traditional British values are being eroded to achieve this goal and we will all lose out as a result.
(Main image – typical primary school document of the five fingers British values)