After Mother Leadsom

13599962_10154026213649597_3688626223071689259_nEnglish politics is broken: you start with the House of Lords, sofa government, the electoral system, unchallenged Media barons (Iraq, Brexit), English Nationalism (there was a reason Kinnock wasn’t elected, and Miliband, with the cry of “no power for the SNP”); then you add a revival of Bennism, with no commitment to address the crisis that led to Brexit except at a socio-economic level, and no chance of being elected; an informed middle class Remain movement that favours petitions that have no party political support; a toxic blend of xenophobia that crosses classes; left progressives that call for alliances which their party has refused and continues to refuse; a Lexit movement that imagines some Romantic benefit will come to the working class from flicking V-signs at the establishment by voting Leave, when we are about to see science, education, health, culture, and investment decimated by leaving the EU, hitting those communities worst.

To cap it all you have the Labour party indulging in the same kind of legal challenges and petitions that epitomised the recent Referendum.

You cannot fix English civic culture, politics, nationalism and xenophobia by apolitical petitions or Corbynism – these represent the gulf in a broken system. I support anti-austerity, but you cannot mend a broken system without addressing the system itself, as a whole. I fear for what England is dragging the UK into. The social and cultural divisions are dangerous and, as the economic situation worsens, education and culture suffer, and the body politic erodes, it is the poor, the ill, the migrants, who will suffer.

Yes, Corbyn gives good speeches when he is among friends, but he refused to address the crisis Colley describes, and ignores the situation outside of England. Unless individuals can bring together The Petitioners and Corbynism, and address the whole system, England will sleepwalk into election defeat, and the dark days will get darker. I have so many good friends who say they support alliances, electoral reform, even Federalism: I understand why they support Corbyn, but I don’t understand why they accept him leaving a broken system broken.

Comments (16)

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  1. nick says:

    everyone says the crisis was decades in the making – a result of neoliberalism and enabled by the ‘big bang’ of financial deregulation.

    so why neoliberalism (financialization of the economy – all of society to be market driven, expand the size of the market by including health, education, prisons ad nauseum in the market (obviously these dont actually ‘make’ anything except profits at the tax payers expense)

    that is not capitalism – that is zombie capitalism a result of a decline in the rate of profit from 1973 onwards – in order to keep profits high the thatcher/reagan revolution reduced wages as a proportion of national wealth – hence tax credits, instead of paying people enuff for the historic level of living capital was paying less so the taxpayer made up the difference –

    2 advatages for ruling class- 1. income levels set by govt (no need for ‘in place of strife’) as tax credits not ‘a fair days pay’ but discretionary 2. hard working families were also subject to welfare benefit scrounger status , i never actually felt entitled to my tax credits

  2. Anton says:

    Good post.

  3. Agatha Cat says:

    I have cousins in Kent, London and Somerset. Same background as myself, but their reaction to the ongoing crises facing the UK over the last few decades is incomprehenible. Every one of them thinks people should pay up front for health, education, etc, just like we pay for cinema. They all think UKIP is pretty good and that we need to leave the EU and get back our place in the world. They are neither thick nor crazy. But they strike me as strange, all 7 of them.

    1. Anonymous says:

      Interesting post, thanks. I wonder how people arrive at these political positions, such as individuals ‘paying up front for health, education, etc.’ rather than pooling resources and seeking some sort of ‘common good’.

      Is it the newspapers they read? social influence? (e.g. ‘most people I know think this therefore its reasonable’) the conditions of life in England? (e.g. lots of people living relatively densely, high costs of living, particularly housing)…]

      …as you say, strange.

      1. Alf Baird says:

        These highlighted differences surely reflect difference in prevailing culture, which is itself influenced by numerous factors, media etc, and in particular by language. Language, efter aw, is the wey we think as weil as the wey we speik. Consider the following evidence:

        “There is a unique tie between culture and language. The languages we speak provide us with the words and concepts to describe the world around us, allowing us to verbalize certain values easily. Anything we as a cultural group value will surely have a known and easily understandable term. Being a native speaker of our mother tongue brings with it more than just the ability to communicate, it brings with it the ability to understand why someone thinks and acts as they do”. (https://www.languageandculture.com/cultures-languages)

        “The Sapir–Whorf hypothesis stated that the way we think and view the world is determined by our language (Anderson & Lightfoot, 2002; Crystal, 1987; Hayes, Ornstein, & Gage, 1987).

        “Culture and language are undeniably intertwined”. (http://www.education.com/reference/article/culture-language/)

        “New cognitive research suggests that language profoundly influences the way people see the world” (http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748703467304575383131592767868)

        “Language is more than just a means of communication. It influences our culture and even our thought processes.” (http://anthro.palomar.edu/language/language_5.htm)

        ‘Scots Language Act’ anybody? Onbody at aw? Mibbe e’en thon ower-peyed ‘Cultur/Langage Meenister’ sittin daen naething i Holyrood? Tyme tae get aff yer airses an mak shuir Scots bairns an awbody is taucht the Scots langage?

        1. DC says:

          Spot on Alf. For example, English is full of violence words (why ‘bullet’ points?). And has it ever struck you how easy it is to insult somebody in English? In English, almost any word can be used as an insult (e.g. chocolate). We think with, and therefore according to, the words we have. The evolution of the meaning of words is in the direction of greatest impetus, and when there is no neighbouring/intermingled culture to modify/attenuate their meaning then starting from where English is currently does not offer much hope for the future – especially given the influence of UK media wordsmiths.

  4. Alf Baird says:

    “education and culture suffer”

    Culture is fundamentally influenced by and is dependent on language, yet where is the Scots language? It has never been taught tae Scots bairns wha canna read nor write in thair ain tongue, whilst many still speak in the Scots language to a greater or lesser degree. Economic impacts are one thing, colonial oppression is another. Holyrood needs to follow the Gaelic Language Act (2005) with a Scots Language Act. Only then will Scots bairns be educated and Scottish culture liberated.

  5. Alan Findlay says:

    Theresa May has just assured us the UK is about to abandon the EU, regardless of the pain which must surely ensue. The press are already demanding that she go to the country first.

    On the assertion that this whole Brexit affair was Cameron’s folly, the sensible response of the Labour Party, in cahoots with the Liberals and Greens, would be to form a coalition and advocate a form of proportional representation along with an immediate return to the EU fold.

    Once the pain begins to bite desertion in the Tory and Ukip ranks will surely rise.

    1. JohnEdgar says:

      Alan, I understand your despair, but what you propose will never happen in England. It is too far gone. Its citizens, or subjects, think its political systems are the norm and all else is the abnorm.
      Leave the Engxiters and Welshxiters to their kingdom.
      Scotland can go it alone. That is much easier and simpler.
      The incorporating Union of 1707 has just ko’ed itself as a result of the English and Welsh voting to leave.
      Let it go! It is a “frozen” land (apologies to Frozen).

  6. Just a chiel says:

    How do we buffer Scotland against a future “toxic blend of xenophobia that crosses classes”?

    I’m pleased with the way Scotland conducted the Indy ref (‘if you’re here, you’re pretty much Scottish’), welcomed Syrian refugees, and the fact that a majority of us voted to remain in the EU, which was followed by welcoming and reassuring messages to EU citizens. But I can’t help thinking that there’s a lot of complacancy in Scotland that somehow we’ll naturally and inevitably avoid a future in which anti-immigration and possibly anti-immigrant sentiment increase.

    We’re lucky that many of our historical and cultural reference points and mythologies are largely pro-diversity and immigration: e.g. a man’s a man for aw that, we’re aw Jock Tamson’s bairns, the fact that even since the 1oth Century Scotland has been very diverse (then it contained Gaels, Anglo-saxons, Britons, Norse, Picts), that fact Scots have always been travelling and trading in large numbers (to Poland, France, Germany etc) and that we have a huge diaspora around the world. I presume these contribute to our current internationalist/welcoming attitudes…

    I can’t help but thinking though that the ‘facts on the ground’ also contribute. For example, the fact that we’re less densely populated than much of England, that our population has risen more slowly than England’s in the last century, that immigration to Scotland has been a lot lower than in England, that we’re made aware by our politicians that we need immigrants for our economy, that our house prices(/pressures?) are lower than the south of England, etc.

    Seems to me there are some ‘real’ reasons attitudes are different in Scotland and that we shouldn’t leave it to chance that our attitudes will remain the same even if conditions on the ground change (i.e. more immigrants, higher housing costs etc.). Instead we should acknowledge the differences between parts of the UK and then implement policies that will maintain our welcoming culture.

    I would suggest:
    we should provide extra funds for local authorities experiencing increased immigration (to cover schools, hospitals, housing etc).
    we should build decent houses via the public sector (since the private sector builds us the smallest houses in Europe, segregates residents by class/finances and hasn’t built enough for decades)
    we should aspire towards mild integration rather than multicultralism (e.g. aiming for a society with more ‘highland bhangra dancing’ rather than separate ‘communities’ living side by side (which does occur in some English cities)).
    we should value and represent as much local culture as we can: for example, Scottish accent and Scots language. (My my ears pricked up during Brexit to hear several random English citizens say ‘it just feels like we’re losing our identity’. I suspect a feeling of lost identity is as much to do with demographic changes within England such as increased numbers of people and increased movement of people associated with the modern economy. But I would bet that it is also to do with the fact that England is politically and culturally centralised, meaning that very little value is placed on ‘provincial’ things like folk traditions or English language dialects (speakers of which are seriously discriminated against and are severely underrepresented in the media).

    Misinformation from the tabloid press was probably also important in getting to this point, but I submit that unless we take action there’s no reason why the ambiant attitude of Scotland can’t also become more xenophobic.

    Just some thoughts that have been rattling around my head.
    What do yous think?

    1. Alison says:

      Nice to see someone mentioning valuing local culture. In all the pro-immigration rhetoric of some Remainers, it sometimes it feels like local or national cultures or identities are no longer valued at all, and are dismissed as parochial remnants that no progressive person would want to entertain. Even elements of the independence movement seem to often propagate the idea that it’s okay to want a “civic nationalism” for a “better Scotland” but not okay to be proud of your culture (which is not the same as thinking it’s better than everyone else’s) and just be glad to be from, and live in, the country you’re from. And to want self-rule partly to enable that culture to continue, deepen, and extend itself, incorporating elements from other cultures but not being blanketed by them.

      Good article by Robin McAlpine on this: http://www.thenational.scot/comment/robin-mcalpine-say-it-loud-were-scots-and-were-proud-fighting-against-our-cultural-cringe.18556

      1. Alf Baird says:

        Alison, it was an interesting article by Robin, who makes the point that “There will be no Scottish independence if there is no increase in Scotland’s collective confidence in itself both as a cultural entity but more importantly as a functioning, modern nation state.”

        However even Robin does not appear to appreciate that language is an absolutely critical element in the formation of any culture. If we want to foster, project and protect a Scottish culture, we hiv tae mak shuir oor bairns an aw ither fowk ir taucht tae read an screed Scots, as weel as spik it anaw. This will require a Scots Language Act to be passed by Holyrood, to follow on from the 2005 Gaelic Language Act. Otherwise we are deluding ourselves about a ‘Scottish’ culture, for withoot oor ain tongue ther’s nae Scottish cultur.

        1. Alison says:

          Yeah, I agree. Same goes for Gaelic, Shetlandic etc.

          1. Alf Baird says:

            I could not put it any better than James Kelman after he won the Booker Prize for his novel How Late It Was, How Late in 1994, when he said: “My culture and my language have a right to exist.”

            It is a tragedy that Holyrood MSP’s and the Scottish Government have yet to see the essential relationship between the Scots language and Scottish culture. As for Robin’s ‘airticle’ – he refers to ‘the cringe’ without appreciating (or perhaps realising) that ‘the cringe’ is primarily due to the inferior and discriminatory way the State, the media and other institutions continue to mis-treat and disrepect our national language.

  7. JohnEdgar says:

    Is that a picture of Theresa May under arrest or being deported?

  8. Ron Sizely says:

    “he refused to address the crisis Colley describes”

    HUH? WHAT? WHO?

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