Regardless of the EU Referendum result, it’s time to call out the Tories on their ideological assault on the country
The recent campaigning for the EU Referendum has been a welcome distraction for the Tories and their corporate and media backers, albeit at the expense of some blistering relationship break-ups that it is hard to see mending after the results are in, whichever side wins. And that’s ‘wins’ in inverted commas. Regardless of the result, therefore, the campaigning has seen a switch of focus from the release of records revealing the level of corporate and personal tax evasion, the vast sums sequestered in offshore territories, and the link between the corporations and the governments that allow whole populations to be systematically robbed.
At the same time, 20 Tory MPs are currently under investigation for failing to properly account for their expenses during campaigning in the last general election. Very naughty.
That our Tory government is corrupt is hardly surprising. That they are beholden to interests that are almost diametrically opposed to those of the rest of us also falls under the Pope is a Catholic category of surprises. What may be more surprising is the fact that the Tories no longer appear bothered to hide any of this.
Since 2010, after all, they have done little more creative than lie. With the backing of a majority of the mainstream media, they have lied consistently about economics and the need for austerity for the past six years. Not only have they faced down the facts that contradicted their economic policy at every turn, they have continued to pursue a policy of national pillage while blatantly perverting the truth. The only sensible question to ask, therefore, is in whose interest is the government elected to serve us acting to fuck us over instead?
My knowledge of economics is extremely limited it was more limited in 2010 and yet it was obvious even to me that the lies spouted so early by the new government about the overspending of the previous Labour administration and linking this to the financial crash were as crass and laughable as the stated links to Iraq after 9/11 and the fantasy of the elusive WMDs. Laughable these lies may have been but they were peddled far and wide — and repetitively — by media outlets that should have served us better, so they took on the air of established truth.
We know the economic crisis was not caused by overspending. Certainly not overspending by our government prior to the rescue of the banks. And then, in the wake of the crisis caused by casino capitalism fuelled by greed and arrogance, tougher regulation of the banks was mooted, then watered down, then obstructed, and then quietly forgotten. Those who were directly responsible for crisis escaped, for the most part, untouched. Many went not only unpunished but then quickly continued in the same vein, their earnings and behaviours unchanged.
The Tories began their propaganda crusade for austerity by claiming that we were all in this together. What this actually meant became clear enough quite early on: you need to suffer to maintain the lifestyles of the elite. While cuts to welfare and health and public services were deemed vital, tax breaks and rewards to the richest were the other side of the equation. We had, suddenly, socialism for the rich, with money pouring upwards from the poor and outwards from the state to the pockets — and offshore tax havens — of the wealthy.
This continues in various formats. The recent steel crisis was but the latest battle in the ideological war waged by the Tories against the people of Britain. This is now a government that prefers — driven by its neoliberal philosophy — to import steel from the nationalised industries of foreign countries rather than nationalise its own steel industry and protect jobs and livelihoods and communities across the UK. In earlier times, this might have been consider treason rather than promoting free markets.
The NHS is possibly the best-loved institution in the UK. It is something we are proud of — and rightly so. There is a tiny minority of support across the country for privatising our health service in any way at all. And yet it is now severely under-funded and our doctors are under attack from their own minister of health. We have a shortage of doctors in training, of GPs, and of nurses. This is blatantly all part of a campaign to run down services until they collapse and private enterprise is invited in to ‘save’ our health service.
This pattern happened before, prior to the privatisation of the railways. British Railways was starved of funds until it was seen as a shoddy service and a national joke. It was butchered and sold off. That’s worked out well, hasn’t it? And we pay more in subsidy to private companies to run our railways than we invested in the old British Rail.
As well as the health service, the Tories are also attacking teachers and education in general. Teacher training has been taken away largely from the universities — because of the so-called left wing bias of university trained teachers — and handed to schools themselves. The upshot, rather predictably, is a large decline in the number of trained teachers. At the same time, there has been the recent plan — defeated for now — to hand control of local authority schools to new academies. The plan here is to lower standards and to make education a two tier process, with those unable to afford private education and fund a place at university fulfilling their future roles as serfs to the elite.
The attack on the curriculum begun under Thatcher continues now. The Tories have always hated the liberal arts and anything that smells of teaching people to think for themselves. History, of course, is always seen as a danger, for history shows us what happens in situations similar to that in which we find ourselves today. Inequality is rising and certain groups of people are selected to be victimised. The rich, of course, believe they can control the demons they may unleash. But they failed in the 1930s and they will fail again.
There is an additional demon this time, however. As well as right wing extremists and the rise of populist demagogues, they will need to confront the fact that the planet is rushing to destruction. Their own policies and rapacious greed are behind that headlong rush, of course, which makes facing the facts a little tricky. But perhaps they think they will find one last gated community that can stand apart from the last throes of our dying world. Perhaps they are naive enough to think they’ll find people so desperate that they’ll build it for them and then watch meekly while they slink inside to watch as the corporate-sponsored armageddon falls on us.
And then, in 2015, the Tories were re-elected. With a majority. The media had done its job. Ably abetted, it has to be said, by a supine Labour Party that refused to fight lies with truth or to show that austerity was not an economic necessity but an ideological attack on the British people.
This situation is what inspired Literate Business — a name I hope to explain in another post. Time is short and, as Chris Hedges repeatedly and so ably warns us, these are the days of revolt. They may be the last chance we get to enact change that not only conquers rapacious capitalism but also saves the planet for our children.