2007 - 2022

Unity, Prosperity, Security

A weird thing is happening as the Tories choose our Prime Minister. The media coverage is increasingly Americanised with talk of the ‘Deputy Prime Minister’ stepping in and there being ‘no hurry’. But the stranger thing is the way this is now being portrayed as a general election itself.  The electorate are just Tory MPs and the 100,000 or so who are actual members of the party. On BBC Scotland they gushed about how ‘diverse’ the candidates were and ‘veteran commentator’ John Sergeant came on and told us that we should ‘keep the sense of calm’ and of course Johnson should stay on?

‘Sense of calm’? Is anyone experiencing calm?

The other thing that’s happening is that the Conservative Party is morphing into the country itself. Just as ‘the nations’ are just treated as regions or part of Greater England, now the Conservative Party is becoming Britain Itself. Watch the imagery and symbolism of Penny Morduant’s campaign video … and check the compulsory three-word slogan. Observe the solemn placing of the vote in the Ballot Box (an event that will not happen).

“We must choose this person with solemnity and wisdom” we are told, as if we were actually part of the unfolding process.


She’s the candidate that has cloned Margaret Thatcher and Ben Wallace and this is a terrifying bit of propaganda. You are told: ” So choose your leader not because you agree with everything they say but choose them because you trust their motives … ”

Dear reader, you cannot choose anything.

This is a campaign video masquerading as a general election film.

In a gushing endorsement for Mordaunt in CAPX George Freeman MP writes: “This isn’t about redebating Brexit. The people have spoken. We are all Brexiteers now. The challenge is to end the division and build a majority coalition for the opportunities of a more global Britain.”

Only Mordaunt can bring the ‘Unity, Prosperity, Security’ we all crave. He concludes: “We need to stop attacking Scottish, Welsh and Irish voters who yearn for greater freedom (don’t we all?), and instead show them that a strong, prosperous and secure United Kingdom in a dangerous world is the only way to have it.”

The people have spoken.

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Comments (51)

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  1. Dougie Blackwood says:


    1. Legerwood says:

      On steroids!

  2. Tom Ultuous says:

    Murdoch seems to have decided Mordaunt isn’t right-wing enough as the Torygraph (& later the Mail) pointed out she once said “Trans women are women and trans men are men.” The comment section was immediately flooded by the blackshirts rallying to Murdoch’s cause.

  3. Keith brown says:

    I was Born a Sovereign Scot and will die a Sovereign Scot and will Never be British or shall I be Labelled as Such,,Take your British Empire Mentality and Wrap it up in your Butchers Apron and Shove It!!!.

    1. 220710 says:

      If you participate in the civic life of Britain (e.g. vote in UK elections, pay tax to the UK government), then you’re a British citizen whether you like it or not. That’s just a political fact.

      1. ScotsCanuck says:

        …. in a word …. BULLSHIT ….. 220710 … I’m Scottish, first, last and always … NEVER was British and as God is my Witness, never will be … I am Scottish and it is my God given RIGHT to declare myself as such … just as my Cousins the Welsh, Irish … aye, and the English have the same Right …. this BRITISH mirage is nothing more than a Greater England wrapped up in a “Butchers Apron” theme of ” we’re all the same ” .
        I’ve read your postings and to my mind you’ve a foot in both camps … one time Pro Indy, next “a leap too far … tell us everything that will happen on day one of Independence before I cast my ballot” …. ironically the Americans have a name for people like you ….. Benedict Arnold.

        1. 220711 says:

          God’s got nothing to do with it. You’re Scottish insofar as you participate in the civic life of that imagined community; you’re British insofar as you participate in the civic life of that imagined community. (‘Ex-pats’ need not apply!) The two political identities are not mutually exclusive, any more than is being a citizen of Scotland and of Europe or of Scotland and of Glasgow or Midlothian.

      2. Joe Killman says:

        Read Keith Brown’s statement again laddie and absorb into your ‘yoonyun brain’.

        1. 220711 says:

          No need, Joe. One’s nationality is not defined by one’s nativity or ethnicity or any other of the flag-waving bravehearted nonsense put about by 19th century unionists like Sir Walter Scott; it’s defined by one’s citizenship or civic participation. And it’s just a political fact that, insofar as he participates in the overlapping civic life of both the UK and Scotland, Keith’s both a UK national and a Scottish national whether he likes it or not.

      3. Alec Lomax says:

        Correction : UK citizen.

  4. Gercon says:

    A reminder of the bank crash. The people who got us into this disaster are the only people that can get us out.

  5. SleepingDog says:

    It is a kind of socio-political synecdoche, where an unrepresentative part is said to stand in for the whole:
    In the same way that Lord Parakeet the Cacophonist might claim that human trafficking was once considered to be an honourable profession, possibly on the highly-selective and self-interested evidence of a few, largely euphemistic, tombstones, say. Of course, what is really going on is not some proxy for a general will, but unequal power relations in a corrupt socio-political system, rotten from the top down: “the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must”.
    I listened to episode from 2013 from the cancelled BBC Document series about British journalists working for MI6 during the Cold War the other day. What is interesting politically is that UK governments have been pro-imperial whether Conservative or Labour and have always covered up their collective past criminal activities in Empire and Cold War. Anything that might shatter that elite consensus (like possibly a Michael Foot or Jeremy Corbyn government) is an existential threat to these people/dynasties. That all the current crop of Conservatives here seem to back increasing immunity for such crimes is, to put it mildly, not a good portent of things to come.

    1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

      On Radio Scotland this morning, there were, in succession, interviews with Ms Jackie Baillie MSP, for Labour, and Mr Tom Tugendhat, MP, for the Conservatives. There was no significant difference in the bulk of their responses to questions – no statements about what their parties proposed to do, but an uninterrupted attack on the SNP and the Scottish Government. Despite the interviewer pressing them on various points, every response was a variation of ‘SNP/SG bad’.

      1. SleepingDog says:

        @Alasdair Macdonald, singing from the same hymn sheet? Or Latin primer, perhaps:

      2. 220710 says:

        Why do you put yourself through it, Alasdair? Why keep listening to a radio station whose editorial content you don’t like?

    2. 220710 says:

      Correction: synecdoche is a figure of speech in which a part is made to represent the whole or vice versa; e.g. ‘Scotland voted to remain in the EU’ (meaning ‘62% of the 67% of Scots who voted in the 2016 referendum on the matter’), or ‘The government is in the wrong hands’ (meaning ‘a group or party to which I’m opposed’).

      ‘Socio-political synecdoche’ is just a fancy literary term for representative democracy, in the discourse of which ‘elected representatives’ commonly stands in pars pro toto for ‘[their] electorate’.

  6. 220710 says:

    Yes, why can’t the deputy prime minster succeed the prime minister (or the deputy first minister succeed the first minister in Scotland) when the latter resigns, at least until such time as the ruling party can select its new leader? Rodney Brazier, emeritus professor of constitution law at the University of Manchester, has recently written in his 2020 book, Choosing a Prime Minister: The Transfer of Power in Britain, that there is a strong constitutional case for this to ensure an effective temporary t
    transfer of power in most circumstances.

    Another thing: why isn’t Lorna Slater or Patrick Harvie (or some combination thereof) deputy first minister in the current Scottish government? The constitutional convention is for the leader of the junior partner in any coalition government to be the deputy first/prime minister. Or is that why the SNP and Scottish Greens have a ‘cooperation agreement’ rather than a ‘coalition agreement’?

    1. BSA says:

      Straight to the heart of the matter there.

  7. Kevan Shaw says:

    Interesting no saltire in the flags of the nations 🙂

  8. MBC says:

    OMG. I’m just sick of them. How long will we have to endure this parade of preening clowns to the fanfare of the sycophantic media. Just choose you new clown and leave us alone. Can’t endure a whole summer of this.

    1. 220710 says:

      Who’s making you endure it, MB? There’s a near infinite range of media content out there, catering for all sorts of tastes and interests. You don’t have to endure anything.

      1. ST says:

        You really are Benedict Arnold aren’t you?
        How incredibly disingenuous to suggest we have a choice of media and opinion in this country.
        The leading broadsheets and Red tops are owned by a handful of right wing media moguls who are capable of manipulating the public.
        The state broadcaster is exactly that. Funded by the state and run by a board of governors in part by the government of the day.
        By any metric the BBC have an agenda. They are not neutral. Why would they be? Turkeys don’t vote for Xmas.
        Asides from which the BBC is unique in having a broad and deep exposure over the UK from Lands End to John O Groats through multiple platforms.
        So no. We don’t have a ” choice”.

        1. Tom Ultuous says:

          Spot on ST.

          Independence related articles on MSN since referendum date announced
          Anti-Neutral-Pro = 48-4-2

        2. 220711 says:

          Yes, we do have a choice. Yes, the leading broadsheets and Red tops are owned by a handful of right wing media moguls. Yes, the BBC is broadcast on multiple platforms and reflects the establishment in this country. But there are myriad alternative content providers to which we can go for the information and analysis we consume. The world is your oyster; there’s a community for everyone.

          1. ST says:

            “But there are myriad alternative content providers to which we can go for the information and analysis we consume.”………
            If you dig deep enough and are prepared to find alternative sources that is!
            And that’s the point, isn’t it.
            The readily accessible and largest penetration media ie newspapers, radio, TV are on the whole pro union.
            If you are of older years it’s likely you derive your news from these sources…. And quelle surprise these voters are overwhelmingly pro Union and indeed pro Brexit. So no. They do not have an unbiased and reliable source of news.

          2. 220711 says:

            No one has an unbiased source of ‘the news’; all news is interpretation, and all interpretation is guided by some bias or other. The trick is to compare and contrast as many different perspectives as you can and form your own interpretation from what you can read between the lines of those perspectives and act accordingly on that interpretation. If you choose to passively consume ‘the news’ as if it was the given Truth, rather than actively cook it for yourself from the cacophony of opinions that are expressed through the media, then that’s your fault, not the fault of the media.

          3. Derek Thomson says:

            So why are you here?

          4. 220712 says:

            I’m here for the banter.

      2. Niemand says:

        Actually it is all over every media outlet at the moment, left and right, nationalist and unionist. You can avoid it by only avoiding all media that discusses politics.

        On the radio now an endless Tory love-in, debating the next leader and all because they had a useless corrupt PM in the first place. Free nationwide publicity for total failure and for an ‘election’ we have no say in whatsoever. And it is going to go on for months. What a joke.

        I wrote a poem.

        The jockeying for political power fills the greedy airwaves;
        Yet the ‘hopefuls’ are doing it only to impress their own,
        The media declaiming their High Tory messages like a whisky priest.
        Where is the hope?
        We are mere spectators of the whole rotten show,
        A congregation without awe; but filled with dread.

        1. Derek Thomson says:

          I write in hopes that by the time you get this letter
          We may live to see a change for the better
          Or are we so devoted to these wretched selfish motives
          When the cold facts and figures all add up
          They cannot contradict this sad burlesque
          This sad burlesque
          With miserable failures making entertainment of our fate
          Laughter cannot dignify of elevate
          This sad burlesque
          Now can they recall being young and idealistic
          Before wading knee-deep in hogwash and arithmetic
          The pitying smirk
          The argument runs like clockwork
          Will run down eventually and splutter to a stop
          P.S. Well by now you know the worst of it
          And we`ve heard all the alibis that they`ve rehearsed
          The smug predictions
          If it`s not a contradiction
          Keep faith in human nature
          And have mercy on the creatures in this sad burlesque

  9. Squigglypen says:

    Well there’s nothing else on telly ..all repeats ..so this might entertain….in a sad sort of way.

    1. 220711 says:

      But nobody’s restricting you to the telly, Squig. Turn it off; read a book or engage in some other form of self-creative play; go for a walk or a surf and a blether. Nursing your wrath in front of the telly to keep it warm isn’t good for you; it incubates ressentiment.

      1. SleepingDog says:

        @Lord Parakeet the Cacophonist, you are completely missing the points (again). Politics is not some abstract atomised activity for the self-empowered individual. It is how we arrange to life in groups large enough to contain strangers (and other definitions). Many people (whether they have the vote or not) will not have the opportunity to freely pick and choose (how, exactly?) between a ‘myriad’ (cacophony) of information sources. The institutionalised (old folks homes) will watch what is on the common room television, the at-work might listen to the radio, the dependents read the newspapers of their care-givers. The question of which way general elections and referendums will go is not what political activists and philosophers will access, but those less able, less motivated, less skilled perhaps, the captive audiences that will be bombarded by such political propaganda through a narrow Overton window, informing and misinforming conversations up and down the country. From your ridiculous and non-empirical perspective, commercial advertising would not work, because people would all be checking out myriad sources in their infinite spare time. Global advertising spend suggests otherwise. That is what lies behind complaints of systemic media bias which you shrug off.

        In fact the burden of effectless choice in politics is something that reached breaking point in the UK during the Tony Blair government, and is a theme worth exploring.

        1. 220711 says:

          Politics collectively denotes the processes we employ in deciding our public affairs and the structures through which those processes operate. Democracy requires precisely that its an activity for the self-empowered individual.

          ‘Many people (whether they have the vote or not) will not have the opportunity to freely pick and choose [between content].’

          How not exactly? Are they too stupid, like, or lazy? Do you realise how offensive a term like ‘the institutionalised’ is? It’s victimising and disempowering; it demoralises and denies people agency.

          Even people who live in care homes are capable of running their own neighbourhoods. They’re just prevented by doing so by the established power relations of their governance that victimise them. In fact, care homes for the ‘incapacitated’ could serve as a synecdoche for the establishment of Scottish society more generally.

          1. SleepingDog says:

            @Lord Parakeet the Cacophonist, how are residents of care homes not institutionalised? How are their options not restricted?

            There are important ways in which our media coverage of politics are exclusive. One is access (there are only certain journalists or researchers allowed inside the tent by the gatekeepers of the political elite). Another is repression (milder forms of voluntary censorship for the cooperative, more draconian punishments for the least cooperative). Another is opportunity to hold politicians accountable (politicians and their minders generally select their interviewers). Another is resources (even large corporate news agencies have to combine resources on the larger investigative journalism tasks, like the next Parakeet Papers).

            I don’t want to go into a tangent here about the tyranny of effectless choice, but remember that many people were frustrated with the Blairite choice agenda which was supposed to load them with the responsibility for tracking league tables and reading service brochures when all they really wanted was a government guarantee of good-quality local schools and hospitals, not to have to choose the least-worst options and bear the personal responsibility for failing their families if these didn’t pan out. To see examples of statupidity, see some of the commentary on the Women’s Euros. The corporate media has a similar bias and penchant for easy headlines.

            The other aspect of this succession drama of course is to create a false impression of what politics is (narrow focus on Westminster court politics) and disgust with it. You can win elections by creating enough disgust in politics if your base is corrupt. Another propagated false impression was the smearing of Jeremy Corbyn, which was documented in multiple research findings. Political science shows a clear trend that popular policies of the Left are not correctly attributed to the political party platforms containing them. There is evidence that people vote against their stated interests. When I studied political science, philosophy and psychology, we were told that there were fairly reputable studies that found right-wing voters were typically less intelligent than left-wing voters someplace/somewhen (I don’t advocate a simplistic left-right ideological model or a simplistic model of intelligence either) but could not be published for whatever concerns. There is also apparently research that more intelligent people are more likely to be fooled in some circumstances.

            I make no broad claims, but I do see a great deal of improvement could be made in peoples’ political skills in the UK, but very little effort made in that direction by the corporate media. We hardly have a public conversation about the British quasi-Constitution, of British imperialism, diplomacy, foreign policy (except Brexit) and so forth. We don’t have a public conversation between peoples of the British Empire. In fact, Brexit was a way to avoid the difficult conversations that would have arose when the EU tried to shut down British offshore tax havens, possibly even targeting the City of London itself.

          2. 220711 says:

            But many care home residents are institutionalised. As I said immediately above, their options for the collective self-governance are restricted by the established power relations within the community of their care home that victimise them as ‘incapable’. (There are, of course, honourable exceptions in which the care home community is run democratically rather than technocratically.)

            The remainder of your post shows that you’re clearly capable of discerning how the establishment excludes, represses, and falsifies information through its communications media. Why do you think your fellow citizens (even the ‘more intelligent’ fools) are inferior to you in that respect? Why do you victimise them in this way?

          3. SleepingDog says:

            @Lord Paraket the Cacophonist, I fail to see how I’m ‘victimising’ anyone. I am trying to explain some of the obstacles various individuals have in overcoming systemic biases against their fair participation in politics. I will repeat what my old Contemporary Issues in British Politics lecturer told us: academics (and journalists) often know of many unsavoury aspects of their own government that do not percolate through into mainstream discourse. A falsified version of history is taught in schools. The news agenda of the BBC is largely set by corporate newspapers. Media employees, politicians and so forth, especially at the top of the decision tree, are disproportionately recruited from elite backgrounds.

            The current UK news and current affairs (especially in popular formats) agenda has an overwhelming bias towards preserving the status quo, or at least the vested interests of the influential elites who direct it. Relatively tiny differences of style receive intense focus, while logically-relevant systemic problems are largely ignored (so we have very few mentions of the problems caused by the British quasi-Constitution that at least Bella has drawn attention to). There might be little public awareness of movements like Charter 88 (which seems to have flown into Unlock Democracy today): https://unlockdemocracy.org.uk
            I think the BBC has hardly mentioned the organisation recently, unless its website search is highlighting results from 2013 and 2000 perversely.

            And no, the ordinary person has not formally studied politics for four years, nor has the amount of free time to devote to it as I have. However, if people had been properly prepared throughout school for civic participation, taught reasonably accurate histories, practised collective decision-making, learnt critical thinking and so on, most of them would, I think, be in better shape to engage in politics than I am. But that is not how our system works, and in political terms, the imperial UK public is probably in worse shape than many of our European neighbours who have less centralised forms of government and are largely freed from the backward arrangements of the UK that kept large areas of public policy (like foreign policy, diplomacy, defence: the royal prerogative areas) out of democratic influence — until Brexit provided some release from these frustrations, I guess.

          4. 220711 says:

            ‘A falsified version of history is taught in schools. The news agenda of the BBC is largely set by corporate newspapers. Media employees, politicians and so forth, especially at the top of the decision tree, are disproportionately recruited from elite backgrounds.’

            Yet, you maintain that, despite all this, you (unlike many of your fellow citizens, who are not so well-educated as and/or are busier than you, and who are for that reason gullible ‘victims’ of the establishment’s subterfuge) can see through all that.

            How exceptional this must make you feel!

          5. 220711 says:

            ‘If people had been properly prepared throughout school for civic participation, taught reasonably accurate histories, practised collective decision-making, learnt critical thinking and so on, most of them would, I think, be in better shape to engage in politics.’

            Victimisation again! The poor souls haven’t been prepared (by whom?) for civic participation, taught (who’s) ‘accurate’ histories… What’s stopping these passive ‘victims’ from actively creating their own histories, from honing their own critical thinking skills, their own ‘intellects’, from convening to make and enact collective decisions pertaining to the public affairs of their own neighbourhoods and workplaces, and so on. Why do they need to be ‘led’ by those superior exceptions who are less stupid, less gullible than themselves, by teachers and other authorities?

            The very power relations that make them victims rather than agents, dependent rather than independent, creatures rather than creators of their own lives… that’s what.

          6. SleepingDog says:

            @Lord Parakeet the Cacophonist, is this some Ayn Rand heroic individual gibberish you’re spouting? How odd that you reject the need for people to be trained in skills. I find your lack of empathy with the difficulties many people face appalling. I mean, we’re in the midst of a Covid-19 epidemic, a cost of living crisis, there are so many people struggling with so many aspects of life, yet they’re supposed to drop everything and embiggen themselves, since you obviously claim their failure to do so is a moral one. Has it occurred to you that you may just be a sick sociopath?

          7. 220712 says:

            I’m questioning the ‘banking model’ of education, which casts people as the passive recipients of skills and knowledge, as ‘empty accounts’ that need to be filled by teachers, and which (in the words of Paulo Freire in Pedagogy of the Oppressed) ‘transforms students into receiving objects and attempts to control thinking and action, leading men and women to adjust to the world, inhibiting their creative power.’ People who suffer the effects of inequality – their greater vulnerability to disease and illness, to hunger, homelessness, and exploitation – don’t need to be trained; they need to seize control of their own learning as the means of their self-creation.

            The unequal social relations on which the banking model of education (and, by extension, the banking model of welfare generally) is based create a ‘culture of silence’ or passivity that instils a negative, passive, and suppressed self-image into the oppressed, leaving them prey to the benevolence or ‘grace’ of philanthropy, which merely reinforces the culture of silence and confirms the ‘privilege’ – the inequalities of power – on which that philanthropy depends. Pedagogy of the Oppressed again: ‘This culture of silence can also cause the dominated individuals to lose the means by which to critically respond to the culture that is forced on them by a dominant culture’ and ‘eliminates the paths of thought that lead to a language of critique’.

            The last thing the oppressed – those in our society who suffer the effects of inequality – need is ‘to be trained’ by those who are unequal to them. They need rather to be allowed to control and manage their own learning (and, by extension, their own welfare generally) as the means to their own self-creation. And our role in supporting the self-liberation of the oppressed is to help reinstate ‘the paths of thought that lead to a language of critique’ that the inequalities of power in capitalist society – and the culture of silence to which those inequalities give rise – have eliminated.

        2. Niemand says:

          Yes and part of the problem is *all* media’s voracious appetite, regardless of their actual own agendas / biases. It is all over the front pages of The National and Guardian for example.

          I think this current situation is especially egregious since Johnson was literally forced out by his own and now they are reaping the benefit of massive focus on them and their various policy agendas which we have no say in at all. Even for someone like me who does not buy into the ‘state broadcaster’, power of the media stuff as much as others, this is unthinkingly ridiculous: the only show in town for months is going to be this pathetic parade. If the BBC carry on with it then I think it actually worth complaining as the case is so clear cut. I actually texted the radio this morning and they were keen to put me on but then the line went dead.

          1. 220711 says:

            There’s also the consideration that the competition to be the UK’s next prime minister is newsworthy. It would be very odd indeed if this competition wasn’t the lead editorial across the British media. It’s high up the agenda even on Bella.

          2. Niemand says:

            Well yes, and Bella falls into the same trap sometimes: journalists focussing so much on other journalists as if they represent the zeitgeist. They don’t, though they like to think they do.

            My point stands – yes it is newsworthy but there needs to be strong critique of the process and a counterargument that it should be different e.g. the whole thing should be time limited to say one month, regardless of any recess. This is also actual news. But what we are mostly getting is a platform for the candidates to propagandise to their own with the populace as mere bystanders to who is going to be the next PM. What each candidate says is literally irrelevant – we will get what we are given. This is wrong and badly skewed and major media outlets should do something to mitigate that wrong.

  10. Alvin Vertigo says:

    The big question is, now that they are parading themselves in their fully unleashed lizard avatars to win the extremist Tory vote and become leader, how do they think they can then convince the wider public they are human come the time of a general election?

    1. Niemand says:

      Made me laugh this Alvin. One can but hope that the populace notice the lizard reality beneath the human facade.

  11. John Wood says:

    ‘Americanisation’ is the key word. The real power behind UK politics is the US. In fact we are in reality little more than a US colony now. They are even bring nuclear warheads back to Lakenheath. All this jingoistic flagwaving, and the corruption of all sides is as American as can be.

    Scotland is a colony’s colony. We are bought and sold for American gold these days.

  12. SleepingDog says:

    Medialens has commented on what looks like a growing crisis of mistrust in corporate media:
    with a brief demographic take on the mainland UK.

    I wonder if Bella would consider doing some article on the UK population, whether a ‘if the population was a hundred people’ or an infographic approach or whatever. Not just the electorate. Measures of disadvantage and deprivation, such as homelessness, poverty, lack of Internet skills and access, hunger, incarceration, institutionalisation, functional illiteracy, major disability breakdowns, chronic illness and palliative care, learning difficulties and cognitive impairment, drug addiction, lack of English skills, long/unsociable working hours and so on. All the kinds of things which prevent or negatively impact people’s abilities to fully engage with a democratic process.

    These factors will sometimes be related. There will be geographical differences and clusters.

    For example, Autism UK says:
    “One in 100 people are on the autism spectrum and there are around 700,000 autistic adults and children in the UK. ”
    The charity says that one common feature of autism is in social communication: “taking things literally and not understanding abstract concepts”. Clearly, this would put such people at a disadvantage in democratic participation. Autistic people may need more time to process what others say, and therefore are at a disadvantage in meeting formats.

    1. 220712 says:

      This is only a problem if the participation of people who we deem ‘autistic’ (say) isn’t normalised within the democratic process of those meetings. This normalisation can be achieved by those who are excluded by the process itself through (among other things) advocacy.

      In the past, I was employed by the community of people in North Lanarkshire who were deemed to have ‘learning disabilities’ to help decision-makers in government adapt their decision-making processes to the needs of that community to enable its inclusion in those processes. Shortly after, I was employed by the community of people who lived in the Lanarkshire Health Board area and were deemed to be mentally ill to do the same. And one of my first jobs back in the 1980s, after I’d completed my apprenticeship as a philosopher, was to similarly advocate on behalf of people in Edinburgh whom the city deemed ‘disabled’ in relation to its library and information services.

      Basically, rather than rely on the patronage of their oppressors, those communities would meet for themselves and decide, on the basis of the real life-experiences of their members, what structural adaptations to were required to normalise their participation the decision-making processes whose outcomes affected their lives, and then sent me in (like a latter-day sophist) to argue their case. They used whatever ‘capacity-building’ and ‘developing social capital’ grants that were around at the time to fund this work of self-empowerment.

      1. SleepingDog says:

        @Lord Parakeet the Cacophonist, the Patronising Paratrooper of Sophism, I’ll give a go at cutting through the Gordian knot of your latest furball of irrationality.

        Firstly, the National Autistic Society (I misnamed them Autism UK), are an advocacy group for autistic people (apparently the most preferred term of autistic people for themselves as surveyed in the UK). They don’t need you parachuting in for them. There will be other similar non-government organisations representing groups in civic society, some with contrasting opinions.

        Secondly, your allegation that they needed advocates essentially supports my points, not contradicts them.

        Thirdly, the ‘oppressors’ seemed to be funding the ‘de-oppression’ of the ‘oppressed’, in your little anecdote, so I consider you an unreliable narrator in this.

        Fourthly, what kind of capacity-building does not involve training people in skills?
        “Capacity-building is defined as the process of developing and strengthening the skills, instincts, abilities, processes and resources that organizations and communities need to survive, adapt, and thrive in a fast-changing world.”
        Training does not need to be conducted by ‘oppressors’. Indeed, cascading training is often useful (training people in the community to be trainers). Sure, some skills can be learnt by self-direction or guided practice, but self-directed learning requires basic skills, so I would not leave literacy and numeracy to some marketplace of ideas.

        Fifthly, your sophistic use of the term ‘deem’. I get that you deny objective reality whenever it suits you, then row the other way when you want to introduce one of your dogmatic statements about the world being the way that you want it to be. Are you saying that for people finding it difficult to use services, this was all in their minds? Are you really going to go into Norman Tebbit territory and tell people to get on their bikes? Do you think people applying for disability benefits are faking it?

        1. 220712 says:

          Of course I’m an unreliable narrator. All first-person narrators are unreliable narrators, and we’re all the first-person narrators of our lives.

          And, yes, I know what the National Autistic Society is. It’s one of the many organisations I worked with during my ‘career’ in community development. One of the key objectives of campaigning organisations like the NAS is to ensure that the people for whom they campaign get to participate in making the decisions that affect their lives. I’ve no doubt that, somewhere along the line, the NAS will have contributed to some funding that enable some self-advocacy group to employ me.

          The people who employed me didn’t need me to advocate for them. They were more than capable of speaking for themselves. It was the government agencies who administer our lives – local authority levels mainly – that needed me to help them to become less exclusive and more able to include their clients, my employers, as active participants in their decision-making processes. Once the obstacles to my employers’ participation were removed, my work was done. The only ‘training’ involved was for bureaucrats, to help them adapt to the communication needs of their clients and not the other way around, and was often delivered by the excluded clients themselves. (Interestingly, many trainees found this process – which reversed the ‘normal’ power relation between them and their clients – uncomfortable and even, on occasion, deeply disturbing, which outcome was itself part of their learning.)

          In the world of community development, ‘capacity building’ is any improvement in an community’s facility (or capability) to ‘produce, perform, or deploy’. This can include educational inputs and training; but, in the world of community development, the term itself is not a euphemism for education and training, and any training that it does involve isn’t conceived on the ‘banking model’, on which I’ve discoursed elsewhere. In community development, it’s axiomatic that learning should be itself a ‘practice of freedom’ that abolishes (‘aufhebung’) the unequal power relation between ‘teacher’ and ‘student’, ‘benefactor’ and ‘beneficiary’.

          Regarding ‘deem’: in my experience, people don’t self-identify as ‘disabled’; they are ‘deemed’ or identified as ‘disabled’ by others. People who are excluded from participation in the governance of their own lives and/or the public affairs of their communities don’t see themselves as ‘the problem’. The problem isn’t moral but social; it lies in the inability of our social institutions to accommodate the communication needs its all our citizens within their democratic processes. The ‘fault’ of disability lies not with the physical or mental characteristics of excluded person, but with the structural characteristic of the institutions that exclude that person’s participation.

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