The Invisible Fightback

The truth about the Clarkson debate is a society split and splitting down the middle between the Chipping Norton set writ-large: Middle England (and Middle Scotland) and the rest. As Kevin outlined yesterday (Save Leith Waterworld – and follow @splashback on Twitter) the attack on the poor starts by shutting down basic social amenities. But as Luke Cooper points out out last weeks mass strike (with 70% support despite blanket ANTI-strike corporate media propaganda) was a historic moment. After decades of lies, distortion and equivocation, the time for a real response has arrived, suddenly.

Several critical points of ‘crisis’ in the British establishment have led us to this moment. After the exposure of the depth of media corruption in the ongoing trail of destruction that is the Phone-Hacking Scandal, the venal nature of Westminster that was the Expenses Scandal (anyone remember that?), the collapse of belief in the integrity of the British police (from tasers to Operation Weeting to death in custody), the current system of rule lies exposed. It matters less and less each day that the media attack, undermine or ignore this movement because the response can’t be kept invisible anymore. It’s impossible to cloak the social revolution any more.

Now, as Gideon Osbourne and the perfidious Liberals announce the most punitive attack on working people that would make even the Milk Snatcher blush crimson, we round-up some of the responses – online and in the real world, please add your own:

The Burd has it (It’s War, Class War): “I’ve been nursing my wrath to keep it warm this week, while simultaneously trying to get it down to a level of mist that enables a coherent post to be drafted.  I had just about managed to shift from scarlet to hot pink and then I read Dr Eoin Clarke’s first class analysis of the personal wealth of the UK Government Cabinet at The Green Benches.

No peeking now, take a guess.  How much do you think our top politicians are worth collectively?  And this is based on conservative (sic) estimates.£74 million.  Seventy four fecking million pounds.  Our Dave tops the list at £20 million while Lord Strathclyde – the Scot who leads the Conservatives in the Lords – is worth a cool £10 million.  And I’ll bet you a tenner you and I pay more tax in a year on our paltry earnings than some of them.

Knowing this creates a credible context for this Conservative-Liberal Democrat government’s political narrative and belief system.  It explains a lot, it really does.

Like how George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, could stand up in the UK Parliament this week and deliver a slap in the face for the poorest families – the ones who work and receive poverty pay for the privilege – in his autumn statement.”

Over at the Forest Cafe, a thriving community-arts hub now left derelict by others incompetence, occupation is underway. Amy Douglas, a 32 year old youth worker from Edinburgh who has been in the building since yesterday said, “While massive cuts are being made to public services and workers bear the brunt of these through much diminished pensions, the banks responsible for the financial crisis continue to profit. Cuts to public services also threaten community spaces and the same banking system is responsible for the detrimental impact this has had on communities across the country4. By squatting and reopening 3 Bristo Place we resist the banks’ continued profiting at the expense of those who are already suffering from the cuts.” More at Indymedia here.

Useless Hippies? Yeah yeah, heard it.

These sort of responses (considered small and meaningless by the MSM) are gathering strength and popular support. That they lack organised leadership is an operating manual not a sign of cluelesness. The answer may be now to really begin to connect the green and the red in a way that hasn’t been effectively managed. Because the struggle of the developing South is the struggle of the poor in the developed North.

As Durban stutters to a continued (WAKE-UP!) realisation that Kyoto’s abject failure represents a collapse of credibility of the green lobby’s efforts to get governments change, something new is required.

Which brings us back to George Osborne, who said in his autumn statement that he was “worried about the combined impact of … green policies … on some of our heavy, energy-intensive industries”. He continued: “We are not going to save the planet by shutting down our steel mills, aluminium smelters and paper manufacturers.” If we carried on “with endless social and environmental goals … businesses will fail, jobs will be lost, and our country will be poorer”.

This isn’t just grand-scale myopia. This isn’t just massive collision-course dereliction, it’s the voice of vested interest, its the voice of the £74 Million British Cabinet and everything they represent. As Andrew Simms writes here: “Osborne’s only vision seems to be a deficit reduction plan that is doomed to failure, and a further crippling of the public sphere, which was the only thing that stood between the failure of private financial markets and economic disaster. Yet jobs, a vibrant economy, carbon reduction and an economy better insulated from external economic and environmental shocks are there for the grabbing.”

It’s time to connect for real transformative change and talk about what role Scotland plays in that movement. For those of us uninspired by David Torrance’s claim that England is forging ahead on matters of ‘education, health and the economy’ the challenge remains, how to re-imagine Scotland and reinvigorate the opportunity we have in the independence movement to create anew.

Elite rule has failed. Now what?

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  1. Dave Watt says:

    Damned good stuff. Well done.

  2. vavatch says:

    There a fair amount of hyperbole in this eh? “Massive cuts”? Where is this narrative of “massive cuts” coming from? It sure isn’t coming from the real world, where the simple fact is there’s ni massive cuts and spending has continued to rise year on year – just not at the same rate of increase (because we have a 14% annual deficit, the worst of any western country).

    It must be coming from the supposedly “corporate media” then? But wait that’s confusing – I thought they were the tool of the rich? Never mind – better get on with being a deficit denialist eh, and downright lying about the level of cuts.

    I’m also not sure what the personal backgrounds of the Tory arty leadership have to do with it, especially when the opposition have advocated policies that are much the same and differ by only a tiny amount of total spending.

    If you want to convince anyone, such as me, a bread and butter middle income taxpayer who is on the fence really, you’d best stop with the downright lies and hysteria and have a more “reality based” approach that acknowledges theres’s not actually been that much in cuts but still puts forth an argument for why I should hand over my money to pay for other people to have pensions and benefits vastly superior to my own.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      The personal background of the cabinet has everything to do with it given that they are from a tiny section of society. What are we to make of this? Is this evidence of a functioning meritocracy?

      Presumably according to you analysis the media is a full of mutually owned publications and outlets with no hidden agendas?

      Lets assume that you only think of yourself – and see society as being entirely about you and yours. Despite this prism I find it diffficult to imagine that you as a ‘bread and butter middle income taxpayer’ – have had no personal impact from the recession / economic crisis. None? Congratulations. Your faith in your rulers is admirable. Keep Calm and Carry On!

  3. Observer says:

    Agree very much with the Burd – it’s class war. My favourite topical quote to summarise what has been going on in recent years is from Warren E Buffet, who said that there’s class warfare alright, & it’s his class, the rich class, who are waging it & they are winning.

    There is absolutely no doubt that the poorest have already felt the deepest impact from the cuts, & that will get worse as the Tories scythe their way through the welfare budget, regardless of the consequences for individuals.

    Community activism has a large role to play. But in Scotland we have a Scottish Parliament & in it sit a lot of SNP & Labour MSPs who claim that they are left of centre & social democrats. But what are they actually doing to resist the attacks upon our poor? It seems to me that they spend more time squabbling like a bunch of weans over who’s ball it is rather than actually doing anything.

    At the same time as we can all take whatever action we can in our own communities & workplaces, it is time some pressure was put on them. Let them earn their money; they need to take a stand here. There are clear alternatives economically & socially that can address the deficit crisis without penalising the poor. I want to hear a united voice from Scotland making that case & showing how it can be done.

  4. MD Kid says:

    An interesting article. Consider me ignorant of the political/financial situation of Scotland, but I still heard your message loud and clear. Vavatch above is an example of a growing issue though. Those in the middle, who feel they still have their financial security despite all those around them, see no reason to join a fight that would risk their condition. If you consider the reasons why the rebellion against capitalism didn’t happen, predicted but never quite seen, it is because of the comfort capitalism creates for those in the middle, and the hatred it creates within those same people for those at the bottom.

  5. Just spent a couple of hours reading and listening to Michael Ruppert and others.

  6. M G says:

    would’nt it be interesting if instead of borrowing billions ,the Treasury said 70 million people,here have one million each .

  7. cedarphotos says:

    We need a national campaign to secure reindustrialisation. The SNP has articulated a vision on this issue, but experience shows that placing our hopes in the fortunes and capacities of a government to deliver is misplaced.

    The public discourse in Scotland is currently about power: which institutions should have it, does this institution need more, does it need all the power, which powers should be held by which officials etc. The challenge for those of us want to see a socially just nation that leads the world on green energy, is a massive electricity exporter, and is the international fabrication hub for green energy plant, is about defining what any “new” power is actually for. Is it for the race to the bottom with low corporation tax, and a haven for the neo-liberal evangelists (in which case, without capital controls any ‘leadership’ in these new industries will be short lived), or is it for raising all of Scotland’s people up?

    We have a deep scourge in central Scotland of structural mass unemployment. It colours everything in our society, and with the stoonding rise in NEETs rates we risk another generation of young people becoming a generation of junkies. The 18,000 registered heroin addicts we have in Scotland (15,000 of whom are in Glasgow) are the Thatcher years’ legacy of deindustrialisation: the 1980s “generation junky” are in their 40s and 50s today, but the waste of human potential and immolation of Scotland’s most important resource (her people) is currently devastating our national future.

    In the depths of the worst recession since the 1830s we have a once in 300 year chance to define “Scottish nationhood,” it’s core values, what ‘Scotland’ is for. We need to grasp it. We need a national, and civil drive for reindustrialisation.

  8. Ard Righ says:

    Yet another cut and paste, pick and mix lack of coherence from Mike Small, desperately trying to be Scottish. Assimilating, involves learning the about the country’s culture you or your parents have adopted.
    Invisible fightback? and your suggesting….erm…nothing as usual?
    Middle Scotland? What planet are you on? It’s called the central belt here.

    I remember that almost exclusively English hang out for useless freeloaders, at best, dire.
    So many, so glad to see that dump the forest cafe fail.

    1. Douglas Strang says:

      What a strange idea: Mike “desperately trying to be Scottish.”

      And I’m sorry your experience of the Forest Cafe was so negative. For others it was one of the most exciting and innovative venues in Edinburgh.

      I’d be intrigued to know what cultural events you’d recommend.


  9. Scottish republic says:

    I do enjoy your articles very much Mike. Usually, the best here and in many places.

    I was enjoying it up until I read £74m – that is not a fault of yours but the Brit nat MPs make one mad with their ‘we’re doing what’s best for you’ drivel.

    Cutbacks won’t be affecting them.

  10. Indy says:

    This article kind of ignores the reality that everyone in England who voted Tory is not rich. A lot of working class and low income voters down south voted Tory, knowing full well that it is the party of the wealthy, and we have to ask why? To a certain extent it doesn’t affect Scotland directly – except for the obvious fact that as long as the Union remains in force the Tories will have control of our economy. But in terms of our political culture Scotland’s rejection of the Tories couldn’t be any clearer. So we have to wonder what the difference is and I think it can be explained by the fact that many people down south see Labour as being intrinsically incompetent when it comes to running the economy. And with some justification. And because Labour are associated with left wing economics that association has led many people to draw the conclusion that left wing economics don’t work. Of course the reality is that the Blair/Brown Labour brand screwed up the economy by embracing free market politics and an artificial prosperity bubble based on easily available credit and vastly inflated house prices. But the end result has still damaged the very concept of left wing economic competence and cemented the perception that the Tories are more reliable and less profligate. So working class people still vote for them even although they may not identify with their values or their ideology.

    And that’s something we in Scotland need to bear in mind because to a large extent the political culture that has grown up around devolution is not focussed on the economy, it is focussed primarily on decisions around public spending. So we shouldn’t assume that the same dynamic could not develop in an independent Scotland – it could, and it therefore behoves the left to acknowledge that Labour have a terrible record on the economy and to be very insistent on pursuing economic policies which are competent, sustaiable and achievable as well as ticking all the socially desirable boxes. Otherwise we could potentially end up in the same mess. That’s why I think it is a very positive thing for the SNP to focus on the Nordic model, where people have been able to combine economic competitveness with socially just policies. One funding the other.

    1. CapnAndy says:

      A good point. I believe the reason so many working class voters voted Tory was due to the barrage of propaganda generated by what is an essentially right wing press. The armed forces and police are a good example. They were bombarded with stories telling them how things would be better under the tories and how they were being badly treated by Labour. In fact poor old Brown was trying hard to balance the books and in the case of the army, was fighting to improve the situation with tory influence making things worse. The forces and police conned into voting Tory and are paying for it now.

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