Today, disgraced former Tory minister Damien Green published Fixing The Care Crisis for extreme free-marketeer libertarian public service-hating Centre for Policy Studies (CPS).
Tory policy for (the lack of) funding for social care has killed people in need of care and has caused financial difficulties for professional carers.
Green said a care system should be based on the ability to pay which he phrased as “wanting” a better service.
“The state would provide a Universal Care Entitlement (UCE), which could then be topped up by private support for those who want it via a Care Supplement.”
To fund UCE, Green proposed making the poorest pay for it by “taxing the winter fuel allowance” and enforcing “a 1% National Insurance surcharge on those over 50.”
His two-tier afford-or-die plan included the ability “to purchase a Care Supplement (CS) – something similar to an annuity or insurance policy – which ensures that money for more expensive care is available if needed.”
Green suggested this could be afforded by “savings or released equity on a house.” So, the least wealthy, with little savings or no such equity, would be left without extra care “if needed” and everyone else will lose their home and savings if they don’t want to die.
“Payment [for CS] is voluntary – people will have a choice about whether to pay, rather than seeing their tax bills inexorably rise.” Some people will have that “choice.” For people with a “choice” it will be receive care or keep home and savings. Green said the alternative option was tax-rises for middle-income earners rather than for the wealthiest.
Green compared his ideas to the current pension system.
“My proposal is that the Government adopts the state pension as the explicit model for the social care system. Everyone is given a reasonable state pension, but those who want something more attractive are encouraged and incentivised to provide for themselves. It is fair, it is politically attractive and widely supported – and it is a model we need to move across into social care.”
The fact that Green claimed the current British pension is “reasonable” was very worrying for those in need of social care if that is his definition of “reasonable.”
“Just as the state pension aims to keep all pensioners out of poverty while ensuring that those who provide for themselves are not penalised, so UCE would provide a good level of care if and when needed, without necessarily covering the ‘bells and whistles’.”
As the number of homeless pensioners demonstrates, the British pension does not “keep all pensioners out of poverty.” Apparently, according to Green, care needed for people to live is “bells and whistles.” His “bells” and his “whistles” included “larger rooms, better food, more trips, additional entertainment and so on.”
Without blinking Green noted that “social care has actually become 20% less productive over the last 20 years, meaning that taxpayers are putting in more money for a worse service” but he failed to note that was because of Tory privatisation whereby privateer vultures siphoned off funding and left little for actual care. He did admit that council funding for social care had dropped since 2010 but “the Government’s fiscal restraint from 2010 was necessary and right.”
He was quick to dismiss a socialist solution.
“Some will argue that the way to solve this problem is simply to nationalise the care homes, and have all services provided by the state. But since this would both be ruinously expensive, and antithetical to freedom of choice, I will rule that option out.”
By “ruinously expensive” Green meant the privateer vultures, for whom the Tory party works, would no longer get free money if social care was nationalised. “Freedom of choice,” a popular phrase used by the charlatans at CPS, meant freedom of choice for the wealthiest to not pay more tax to fund vital public services for less wealthy.
Green mocked a socialist perspective on funding.
“The easiest solution politically is to say that everything must be free at the point of use, and that the funding to pay for this can come from ‘the rich’ (defined by everyone as someone richer than them).”
As he is aware, what a socialist would suggest is that privateer vultures should not make money out of care, via “ownership” of residential homes or as “agencies” supplying care professionals, and tax revenue should be raised by disenabling tax avoidance.
Green’s and CPS’s policy for social care is typical of free-market libertarian anti-society philosophy toward vital public services: Fleece middle-income people for all their savings and leave the poorest without vital help while ensuring the wealthiest don’t have any extra tax to pay and the privateer vultures can continue to receive free money for their non-contributions to the service. It is precisely the model that CPS wants for the entirety of the NHS.
A discrepancy allows MPs to change political allegiance without being required to seek re-election; when an MP changes from one party to another (or becomes an “independent” MP) a by-election is called only if the MP asks for it. This fault in democracy means voters rely on the integrity of MPs.
In 2014 two Tory MPs joined UKIP and both called by-elections immediately. In 2019 several MPs left Labour and Tory and joined Independent Group but none has called a by-election. The latter group of MPs are manipulating the rules in order to steal parliamentary seats from voters who voted for their respective former parties. They are democracy thieves.
Independent Group is a technocrat organisation. For it, democracy is an inconvenience and an obstacle. In particular, electoral choice between conservatism and socialism is problematic for technocrats because the second option might be chosen by the voters. If the right to choose is removed then the right to choose socialism is removed. Technocracy is political catatonia: It stifles effective opposition.
Independent Group’s ‘Group Spokesperson’ Chuka Umunna wrote a paper called What are progressives for? wherein he pretended to present his vision for the future of Britain. It was published by Progressive Centre UK, the think-tank created by Umunna that pays him over £60,000 per year; the word “grifter” is insufficient to describe his status in politics.
The (very) basic premise of the paper was to present an invented description of modern British politics – both in action in parliament and as creatively perceived attitudes among the electorate – as problematic in need of rescuing from its plight and then state that the solution to this problem was suffocation of political discourse, particularly revolutionary discourse, to be replaced by technocratic catatonia.
All quotes below are from ‘What Are Progressives For?’.
Divided politics and consensus Any honest reader of Umunna’s analysis of Tory ideology might conclude repeatedly that the best response would be socialism but such a conclusion is in the opposite direction to where Umunna was aiming. To guide the reader away from socialism, he had to dismiss any real alternative to Tory destruction at the start.
“Absolutism and tribalism predominate in the established parties.” (page 6)
The above was more than a simple trick to dismiss any socialist party that may exist. Its main purpose was to erase the concept of opposition to the established norm of exploitative capitalism. That short quote from Umunna encapsulated the ethos of centrism: Deceptive presentation of political options in order to dupe the public. The intent was to present capitalism as uncontestable and open only to tinkering.
“We are a deeply divided country.” (p 9) Yes, the Tory government works for a few wealthy people and against the majority of people but that was not the division that Umunna chose to see. He mentioned Brexit as exacerbating division but he meant general party political division.
He made a plea for “consensus.”
“Leaders and activists across political divides came together in the Coalition government during the Second World War to defeat fascism.” (p 10)
Did they? Immediately after the war, a war prolonged by Churchill’s ineptitude, the public gave his party a kick up the backside and elected Labour. Two Communist Party MPs were elected.
He approved of so-called “Post-War Consensus” of the policies of the two main political parties that he claimed existed up to 1979. Historical accuracy of that assertion is doubtful. His convenient pseudo observations on “consensus” were made to facilitate his argument that “our politics seems incapable of forging such a new consensus today.” (p 10)
The Tory government acts against the British people because it has to in order to feed its employers. The Tories of today are no different to previous Tories. The extreme acts of the Tory government, including Social Murder and destruction of public services, are a continuation of earlier Tory behaviour. The election of Tory governments in 2010 and 2015 was a consequence of opponents offering no alternative and blatant lies of Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats. Political consensus – the lack of differentiation between identikit parties – was a key cause of Tory success in elections.
The consensus that Umunna desired was made clear by his apologism for Theresa May.
“Theresa May’s premiership has been hijacked by Britain’s answer to Donald Trump: hard-right ideologues determined to turn the clock back to the 1950s.” (p 10)
That is the same Theresa May who deliberately launched life-changing attacks on the Windrush generation, including loss of income, denial of pensions, denial of healthcare and deportation, to prove her racist credentials; who fully endorsed a vicious Social Murder policy that has most severely affected people with disabilities or chronic illnesses; who has overseen reckless cuts to education, police service, fire service and the catastrophic privatisation of the NHS; who continuously feeds tax-payers’ money to Capita, her husband’s employer; who brokered an arms deal with Saudi government to facilitate carpet-bombing of Yemeni civilians; who lies and evades whenever she is asked a question; who has failed repeatedly to handle Brexit; who laughs her head off in parliament when opposition MPs talk about destruction of people’s lives caused by Tory policy; who is the most venal and most cruel Prime Minister Britain has had.
Umunna contradicted himself when he bemoaned “hard-right ideologues determined to turn the clock back to the 1950s” having spoke earlier and appreciatively of “Post-War Consensus.” (p 10)
He revealed which voters Independent Group is targetting. “There is a progressive tradition within parts of the Conservative electorate which has been overwhelmed by the hard-right within the party they used to call home.” That’s his “consensus.”
Broken politics, binary politics Unsurprisingly, as a ruse to help his contrived axiom of “broken politics,” Umunna dismissed Labour and, equally unsurprisingly, every piece of evidence he presented was spurious.
“Labour should be soaring ahead in the polls against an incompetent, chaotic Conservative administration. Having outperformed expectations in 2017, the party had the chance to advance. But, in the eyes of the public, it has seemed equally as split as the Tories, with the disgraceful scandal of antisemitism in Labour’s ranks and the demonisation and ostracisation of the centre-left tradition in the party.” (p 11)
Why would Labour be perceived as “equally as split” as the Tories? Could that be because many anti-socialists, such as Chuka Umunna, focussed their time on attacking Labour? “In the eyes of the public” Labour is more popular than it has been for well over ten years despite the wrecking activities of Independent Group and others. Umunna’s plaintive cry about “the demonisation and ostracisation of the centre-left tradition” was an indication of how sore the Progress mob are about being found out and rejected.
In his criticism of “binary politics” he chose to reduce and ridicule what he pretended to perceive as the motivation of socialists in Labour.
“The targets [of] the left [are] anyone who dares to be even a critical supporter of the last Labour government, businesses large and small, and, of course, ‘the West’.” (p 11)
The actual targets are exploitative capitalism and its agents. Umunna’s decision to belittle left-of-centre perspectives highlighted that his paper was conclusion-driven and that any deceptive cliches were sufficient for him, intellectually.
In a rare moment of cognizance, there was an accurate description of how centrist fudge is perceived.
“Centrism is thrown around as an insult. Centrists stand accused of seeking to maintain the status quo and being blind to the urgency for change when the opposite is true. The device is often used to suggest attitudes that do not sit within a populist left or populist right framework do not exist or are without legitimacy.” (p 12)
Centrism is conservatism that occasionally pretends to be something else to con people. It isn’t a political ideology because it is just a con; it is a disguise, worn briefly. It exists precisely to preserve the “status quo.” Umunna adopted the offensive trick of equating far-right and socialist via the use of the “populist” qualifier. Socialism’s enemy is conservatism/centrism; the far-right are tools of conservatism. Centrism’s lack of “legitimacy” is due to its innate deception.
Umunna noticed the sorry state of Britain but he fell into line with the Tory excuse of blaming “the banking meltdown” prior to 2010.
“That the left-right framework remains inadequate as a tool to understand our times is brought home by the overlapping crises facing our country. The dysfunction in our economy continues. So the root causes of the banking meltdown of a decade ago are not yet resolved. Wages and productivity are still stagnant, with living standards way below where they should be. Our public services are fraying before our eyes. The NHS in particular is surviving on handouts. There is no political consensus on how to fund the social care of an ageing population. Child poverty and homelessness continue to rise. We are failing to combat the threat of climate change. The primary responsibility for all this naturally lies with the current government, but Britain’s crisis also speaks to failures going back many years and crossing the Labour-Conservative divide.” (p 12)
In the final sentence above Umunna absolved the Tories of blame. Tory policies of austerity and Social Murder are deliberate ideological decisions and have absolutely no connection whatsoever to any “banking meltdown” in the previous decade. Equally, the collapse of public services and the NHS are deliberate acts by the Tories who use public services as conduits to pass tax-payers’ money into the hands of made-up businesses pretending to run the service. Umunna parrotted another Tory soundbite of attaching some blame to pre-2010 Labour government for current problems in Britain; a further contradiction in Umunna’s argument is that Gordon Brown’s Labour was different to Jeremy Corbyn’s – the former was, supposedly, closer to where Independent Group claim to sit.
Centrist fudge Umunna’s garbled reasoning was the groundwork that allowed him to pose a question asking for a solution to the problem he invented.
“The most important questions now are: who has answers for the future and who can bring the country together?” (p 13)
He provided an answer.
“There is a rich and diverse progressive discourse out in the country and in our politics which is capable of meeting today’s challenges and uniting our country” (p 13)
“It is rooted in the social democratic centre left in Labour, in the Liberal Democrats and in the Tory centre right with its One Nation tradition, all of which have successfully worked together in times past to see our country through troubled waters.” (p 13)
Umunna’s warped analysis above was typical of centrist conmen. In 2010 the problem for the electorate was that there was no choice; Brown, Clegg and Cameron were too close together. The lack of options enabled Clegg to lie to the voters about his party’s intent. Clegg conned his way to government and then looked on as Cameron and the Tories destroyed the infrastructure of society.
Umunna’s praise of Cameron’s ‘One Nation’ garbage was an admittance of where the former stands. Cameron was the ultimate political conman. A product of the Eton machine whose father dodged millions in tax, Cameron’s focus as Prime Minister was to destroy public service infrastructure to feed the vultures, and his persona was dominated by deception, lies and evasion. Following the EU referendum failure, Cameron jaunted off to count his untaxed money with his trotters up on the beach. Cameron’s tenure was defined by wilful removal of healthcare, housing, welfare provision, access to higher education and workers’ rights, and he was happy to encourage the use of prejudice and bigotry as a tool of division while he enabled tax avoidance. He is an enemy of humanity. That is what Umunna wants as his navigation through “troubled waters.”
Umunna’s waffled about “progressive politics” being “neitherleft nor right” and not being “moderate or centrist” but being “progressive in the true sense of the word.” (p 14) His dream is to be stood at a podium next to a Cameron clone as both grin snakily.
He pretended to describe a utopia where capitalist exploitation will be kept in check and that will suit those who are “sceptical about the state running their lives and more open to enterprise than the populist left.” (p 14) Umunna knows that socialism isn’t the opposite of enterprise but his lie fitted his agenda.
His assessment of a “solution” to his depiction of a current malaise was clumsy and child-like.
“It is out of this politics that we must give birth to a new and different agenda that will do justice to modern Britain – to that complicated, progressive nation that was captured in the Olympic opening ceremony [in 2012].” (p 14)
“You need a bedrock of values and principles to return to – a political north star by which to set the national compass.” (p 14)
He did have one other desire: “It [woolly ‘progressive’ utopia] should be the patriotic mission of all progressives who want to bring our country back together.” (p 14)
Wilful ignorance of Tory ideology Similar to Lee Rowley‘s ‘Next Generation Capitalism’ for FREER think-tank, Umunna complained not about capitalism but about “dysfunctional” capitalism.
“Capitalism is dysfunctional and needs to be repurposed so it is more inclusive and responsible.” (p 17)
Rowley, a Tory MP, spoke from a libertarian conservative perspective but his little con about bad execution of capitalism (rather than the intrinsic qualities of capitalism) being the cause of ills was exactly the same as Umunna’s.
Rowley: “If politics continues to deal with the prolonged hangover of excessive risk taking -without explaining that such risk taking was a failure of regulation of the system, rather than the system itself – it is understandable that skewed conclusions may be drawn.” (p 36 of Next Generation Capitalism)
Umunna, like all apologists for exploitation, chose to give existence and free will to “the market.”
“The state and the market, working in partnership, have a role: there should be an even balance between the two. The method is a social market economy.” (p 17)
“The market” is people, gambling with others’ wealth. It is a constant scrap between reckless, sociopathic cross-border parasites. It has no connection to quality of products, to need or to value. Everything that happens in “the market” is allowed to happen by law. Regulating “the market” would be putting a bandaid on a gaping gushing festering wound but “the market” can be switched off if the will exists to do so. Umunna, however, viewed “the market” as a sentient being with whom states must work rather than control or eradicate.
In his assessment of current negative effects of exploitative capitalism on Britain, Umunna was very careful to avoid stating that Tory ideology and Tory redistribution of wealth to suit the wealthiest were the deliberate causes of severe hardship and of a lack of vision. He admitted that “in the last few decades the super-rich and some powerful multinational companies have been pulling away from the rest of society – writing their own rules and heavily influencing the levers of the state” (p 18) but he failed to add that it has been deliberate Tory policy to facilitate the exploitation of British people by a few “powerful international companies.”
Every action by the Tories since 2010 was designed to assist the welfare state for the wealthiest at everyone else’s expense. Ideological austerity, Social Murder and destruction of public service infrastructure are Tory policies that were created to feed the vultures. But, all Umunna said in response is “Theresa May talks about ‘burning injustices’ but does little to solve them.” (p 18)
Throughout his brief comments on Tory annihilation of British society Umunna keenly applied as much criticism to Labour but his critique of Labour was spectacularly dim.
“Labour’s leadership has talked about rewriting the rules of British capitalism and in the past has referred admiringly to the economic approaches of, for example, Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela.” (p 18)
“Progressive” solution? Umunna’s solution to Britain’s current perilous economic state was a list of vague restrictions on capitalist exploitation and improvement in vocational training.
He followed his banal list with a proclamation.
“On to this foundation it [a progressive solution] would build Anglo-Saxon strengths.” (p 19)
I think he meant ‘British’ and I think he meant some “strengths” in business that he chose to believe were peculiarly British in character. It was a purposefully provocative phrase to appeal to neopatriots.
Umunna began his “guiding principles” with anti-axiom “results should supersede ideology.” (p 19) That was a dig at any cohesive political plan for the fiscal economy or for society. It was the language of a technocrat.
His purposefully ineffective ideas to (not) regulate corporate control included
“New tax incentives and legal certainty for mutuals and a vast roll-out of employee ownership because the evidence shows this would encourage long-term ownership and diversify ownership of capital.” (p 19)
“A ‘foundation’ share [by the state] in privatised utilities to force them to serve public good.” (p 19)
“Incentivise widespread membership of collaborative unions.” (p 19)
That is, he favoured the castration of workers’ rights and collection actions and replacement with “collaboration.” A “foundation share” is another method of feeding useless privateer “owners” of vital public service infrastructure who, if they fail catastrophically will be bailed out by the tax-payers. Also, tax cuts for businesses. Nothing he proposed differed at all from current Tory conmanship.
“None of these actions are innately pro-state or pro-market; the goal would be to judge interventions by effects.” (p 19)
The above is a blatant lie. All such “actions” would be pro-market. Judgement has been passedon the “effects” many times with the verdict that it’s a con.
As a nod to his Independent Group business partner Angela Smith – former employee of privateer water supply fleecers Anglia Water – Umunna presented the usual deception to dissuade support for unprivatisation of vital public services: He claimed that unprivatising utilities and water would incur a “bill” of £60 billion. This “bill,” according to con artists like Umunna, would be paid to current “owners” of the utilities for the return of the infrastructure to the public. These “owners” have fleeced tax-payers and users for decades. They should receive zero compensation. The only parting gift they should receive is a boot up the backside. The “bill” is £0.
The “foundation” share idea that Umunna proposed appeared to be just an exercise in persuasion (of the exploitative “owners” of public service infrastruture) and an extension of what already exists in the Tories’ limp regulation of privatised public services. The only justification he had for this method over unprivatisation was “there would be no need to write cheques for tens of billions to buy back shares.” (p 20) There is no need. Shareholders in public services bought those shares because they knew there would be steady unearned income at the expense of the users of the services. Extreme selfishness inspired the purchase of such shares and the holders should receive nothing but contempt and derision as compensation.
In the middle of some waffle about “society and economy” working mutually in a weird centrist mistopia of his imagination, there was a random dishonest dig at “the left.” “This approach is distinct from the left which has an instinctive suspicion of all forms of enterprise.” (p 21)
Umunna’s child-like wonder of the inequities of the corporate world and of solutions was boundless. On ludicrously high corporate bonuses he had another fudge.
“We urgently need to put in place a regulatory framework to incentivise companies to adopt pay structures for senior executives based on long-term equity and debt holdings: linking pay packages to the long-term fortunes of the company, with shares vesting over periods of at least five years, will encourage company leaders to take a longer-term view.” (p 22)
But, ludicrously high bonuses are paid to senior executives because they have a short-term view. The highest bonuses are paid to those who have created the most short-term wealth for greedy, grasping shareholders, often accompanied by destruction of the business, huge loss of jobs and creditors fleeced. What Umunna suggested is fake regulation designed to create good headlines but also designed to fail to have any effect.
Umunna asked for more power for shareholders.
“This [regulatory framework above] creates far stronger lines of accountability to those who ultimately own the business and would promote shareholder activism and engagement, which is key.” (p 23)
Did he not understand that shareholders expect profit for themselves for no work on their part? They are leeches.
Umunna’s wilful blindness of the goals of shareholders suited his argument. There is no such thing as “shareholder activism.” There is not a gap between “shareholders” and the businesses in which they have shares. The main motivation of corporate exploitation is the need to assuage the greed of shareholders. It suited Umunna’s perspective to invent a species of morally-inclined small shareholders and present them as against the corporate world; it was another of his deceptive distractions he created to remove focus from real challenges to corporate exploitation, challenges to which he is opposed.
One of his made-up initiatives for utilising the talent that exists in Britain was a stronger connection between universities and the military.
“A dynamic, progressive government would expand the promising but under-powered Catapult network to link universities, business and government closer together and bridge the ‘valley of death’ between research and commercialisation. It would also create a British version of America’s Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to invest in mould-breaking technology.” (p 23)
(According to its website DARPA “is an agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the development of emerging technologies for use by the military.”)
Umunna didn’t like Labour’s plan to abolish tuition fees. He preferred a means-tested change to tuition fee costs for students and re-introduction of maintenance grants. But, although that sounded good at first glance, he clarified by stating that debts for a typical student from a poorer background would, with his imaginary plan, be “reduced from £51,600 down to £12,700.” (p 26)
He mentioned a “Marshall Plan for Skills” without any details but it would “have serious money behind it, be overseen by a minister for skills, attending cabinet and working across departments” (p 27); he advocated devolution of regional powers, without details of funding mechanism: “Let’s have the faith in our urban leaders to stop prevaricating and devolve most powers to Britain’s conurbations, making them semi independent city states capable of growing and developing their own specialisms” (p 27); and he said that there should be “a productivity strategy for the foundational economy” (p 28) without details of how that would work. In summary, Umunna’s “Marshall Plan” was ideas he and his advisers invented because Labour hadn’t invented them, but with no substance, details or funding structure. That ended Umunna’s proposals for the British economy.
Society Umunna noticed the effects of Tory ideology.
“Crime, homelessness and child poverty are all rising, our prisons are in meltdown, our social services are threadbare, the use of payday lenders and food banks is soaring. Our NHS is lurching from crisis to crisis. The numbers of people with severe mental health problems is on the rise. Local government is starved of resources.” (p 29)
But, he was very keen to move the blame from government policy and onto the victims.
“We need to do more than simply provide a safety net to those who have fallen on hard times. We need a social support system to help each individual to deal with the stresses and strains or modern life, and measures to help strengthen community cohesion so it is more resilient in the face of the forces of division.” (p 29)
Above, Umunna used the rhetoric of Iain Duncan-Smith’s Centre For Social Justice think-tank whose purpose is to absolve the government of blame for poverty while simultaneously concocting methods of blaming the victims and of justifying further attacks.
He, correctly, observed that the Tories’ claim of austerity being a tool to lessen fiscal debt or deficit was not true but he chose to omit the fact that Tory austerity was never designed as a means of saving money and was created as an ideological tactic of imposing extreme hardship as part of a policy of Social Murder.
Umunna made clear that his criticism was of the failure of the fiscal economy to “recover” rather than of the thousands of people killed by deliberate Tory policy.
He repeated the blatant lie that the deficit has been cut.
His plan to “reform the tax system and ensure good value for money is secured in the support services provided” (p 30) included tax changes for assets. He gave a (good) example of the current anomalies between income tax and dividend tax but he phrased it as a means of supplying the funding of a vital public service, namely universal childcare. The key points were that Umunna viewed vital public services as something that can be afforded or not, not as a right, and he believed that the public needed to be persuaded to agree to the funding of a necessary service.
NHS “It is vital the NHS remains a publicly funded service, free at the point of use and not based upon one’s ability to pay, but..” (p 32) The centrists’ “but.” Umunna claimed that “we do not have infinite resources.” (p 32)
So, did he propose there should be a cessation of the billions of pounds that are ferretted away from the NHS by privateer vultures installed by the Tories? No, he did not. His vague proposals were
“A cross-party consensus on a solution that endures beyond the changing political persuasions of successive governments.” (p 32) “The NHS must be more efficient.” (p 33) “NHS tax.” (p 34)
The obvious problem with an NHS tax would be that it has an upper limit in each tax year. Also, it would create constant criticism of how the NHS spends the money available to it; ill and injured people would be under surveillance by tax-payers.
Umunna’s appeal for the usefulness of this tax was a plea that people should accept extra tax because it is for something good. “It would certainly help bring the public round to paying more tax for something they treasure.” (p 34)
The last quoted comment encapsulated a key flaw in centrist ideology. Vital public services should be funded by government via taxation or other revenue-raising without the need to persuade the public that such funding is a necessity. But, as a centrist, Umunna stated that the public, the tax-payers, need to be encouraged (or coerced) to agree to funding of necessities by appeals to the value or usefulness of the public service. That is, he failed to understand the role of government and he perceived fiscal decisions as – to use his word – ‘populist.’
The flipside of turning public funding of vital public services into a popularity contest is that there would be losers: Tories’ removal of some vital public services and financial support was preceded by demonisation of the recipients of the services in order to encourage the public to not complain when the services were removed. Umunna’s persuasion of the public and Tories’ dissuasion are two sides of the same coin and each creates the existence of the other.
Housing Umunna had nothing to offer on housing apart from say-what-you-see. “Obviously, we need to build much more social housing,” (p 35) he observed. He claimed there would need to be “revenue capturing opportunities for local authorities to build more council homes.” (p 35) So, no central government funding for housing at all.
He made a another bizarre comment that sounded like a plea: “There should be no shame in building new social housing where the market is failing to produce new housing affordably.” (p 35) It is contradictory for the “market” to produce “affordable” housing. Umunna was worried that any policy remotely non-conservative might be shameful; his intrinsic anti-socialist stance shone brightly.
Immigration “The time has come for honesty.” (p 35) Such a statement on immigration is popular among far-right screaming heads. Umunna claimed that “the rapid increase in labour [due to immigration] has affected local wages. It has led to higher demand for properties, rising rents and exploitation in the private rental sector.” (p 36) Again, he used the language of anti-immigration far-right. As Umunna is aware, “rising rents and exploitation in the private rental sector” and effects on wages are consequences of exploitative employers and property owners who are enabled by government policy, or lack of it. He shifted blame from the culprits to others.
His mimicking of far-right rhetoric continued: “Social integration of newcomers to the community is poor. We must better integrate newcomers to our country, to help illustrate that immigration need not threaten an area’s cultural identity and heritage but can reinforce it.” (p 36) But, he presented that appeasement attitude as a means of fighting against the far-right: “This way we can safeguard our diverse communities from the peddlers of hatred and division while addressing valid concerns about the impact of immigration.” (p 37)
Far-right bigotry and anti-immigrant rhetoric should never be appeased. Any suggestions of putting responsibility for “integration” onto immigrants are part of an indulgence of bigotry.
National service Umunna wants to bring back National Service.
“This is a call to look seriously at developing a programme of national service that will have the effect of bolstering social cohesion for generations to come.” (p 38)
Why is there a need to “bolster social cohesion?” What does it mean? Umunna’s warped justification for the reintroduction of National Service and his “social cohesion” was “the range of factors (social, financial, and educational) that divide us as individuals.” (p 38) Such issues could be resolved by addressing exploitation by employers and property owners, but Umunna preferred a woolly enforced socialisation so people could get to know each other and work together on useless projects. He wants people who are exploited to be friendly with those who exploit them.
“The way we work, the way the housing market has evolved and the way we spend our leisure time has all led to a society more stratified than ever before, where people from different backgrounds share less space than ever before. Diagnosing a society where we live, work and play within ever narrower tribes is easy, as a quick glance at endless comment columns can tell you. Finding a solution is harder. Hand-wringing isn’t enough. To tackle this social apartheid we need to be prepared to take radical action, even if at first it might seem like strong medicine.” (p 38)
Umunna thought “finding a solution” is hard because addressing division of wealth is wholly outside of his soft conservative mindset. So, without a solution, he wants to put random people together in National Service instead.
Technology Umunna’s comments on technology were easy to write because it is a topic with a large variety of positive-sounding projects, inventions and possibilities that will be beneficial to society. He listed several but none had any connection to Independent Group or to him. He was associating himself and Independent Group randomly with something positive.
As a technocrat, control of technology, particularly means of communication, is important for Umunna. He said that a “goal must be a constantly evolving body of democratised and repurposed regulation that tracks the realities of new technologies as they emerge and are applied” but added that it should start from “the principle that citizens, not governments or firms, should have the most power.” (p 41)
Which “citizens?” Apparently, Umunna meant “moral thinkers.”
“One starting point would be to set up a new government agency to oversee the ethical use of these new technologies, to bring together expertise on this new, world-changing technology with moral thinkers, local and national government and the private sector.” (p 41)
A further demonstration of a desire for control was a proposal for “digital identities.” Take the mask off a centrist and there is a authoritarian underneath watching your every move.
“Yet another would be to create secure digital identities for all citizens covering everything from driving licences and tax returns to company registrations and criminal records.” (p 41)
Democracy Independent Group have contempt for democracy. MPs, councillors and MEPs have left other parties and ‘joined’ Independent Group/Change UK without by-elections. Each one of them stole a seat from voters who voted for other parties. Democracy was an impediment to them and they sidestepped it.
Despite democracy theft being the key tactic of Independent Group’s strategy Umunna had the gall to proclaim his plans for democracy. In a section ominously entitled “Overhauling Our Democracy” he used his favourite con trick of presenting a false or one-eyed description of what exists in order to set up a spurious narrative toward whatever deceptive ideas he had as a counterpoint.
“The institutions and apparatus of democracy were designed for yesterday’s Britain where the population was neatly divided along class lines between business owners and workers.” (p 41)
Britain is no more nor no less divided between business owners (and property/land owners) and workers than it was when the Labour party was created. Labour was created to provide a political voice for those who were being exploited. Today, the need for a socialist government in Britain is at least as strong as it has ever been. Centrists and soft conservatives like Umunna see that need for a revolutionary change in British politics and they want to stop it. The ethos of Independent Group’s presentation is to deny the existence of exploitation and to seek a catatonic technocratic system of government that ensures continuity of division between exploiters and exploited. To assist its con, it must present British politics as dishonestly as possible.
“As outlined above [earlier in the paper], the political sociology of Britain has changed immeasurably and our democracy must reflect that.” (p 41)
As I showed earlier, there was nothing earlier in his paper that showed “immeasurable” political change in Britain; there was a succession of false premises and deliberate misrepresentation by Umunna that he used as a set up to reach a dishonest conclusion of immeasurable political change.
He proposed proportional representation: “Our first-past-the post system is undemocratic and deprives the voter of choice and impact” (p 42), and a “federal state.” The former is a tool to ensure that technocratic centrists are always in government and the latter is a method of devolving responsibility but not power.
Umunna claimed “power” would be “devolved” in his “federal state,”
“Power should be devolved down to powerful English regional bodies in the same way that it has been to the Scottish parliament and Welsh assembly. It would mean drastically slimming down central government: fewer ministers, fewer departments and less meddling in how local places run their services.”
but there is no power without money and he offered no comment on whether the drainage system of money to the City of London from the rest of Britain would be discontinued. He clarified that “fiscal policy” would not be devolved in his fantasy devolved country.
There are two key points that proponents of devolution of regions choose to omit from presentation of their ideas. Profits generated by corporate entities in a devolved region do not stay there; in Britain, they tend to congregate in the City of London. For example, profits from the fossil fuel industry generated in Scottish waters in the North Sea do not stay in Scotland. Secondly, there is no power for a devolved region if the government of that region has no control of the armed forces. Scottish parliament, Welsh assembly and Northern Ireland assembly do not have control of the armed forces.
Umunna’s ideas for changes to parliament included MPs from “regions” sitting together rather than sitting as a party because parliamentary politics is too “tribal.” He meant the removal of oppositional politics. Technocratic centrists are opposed to opposition.
Rather than abolishing the archaic House Of Lords he suggested replacing it with another elected chamber as a stifler on the House of Commons further reducing the capacity of an elected government to govern and further reducing the usefulness of voting.
Umunna was keen on “citizen’s assemblies” because they remove responsibility from government and add another layer of pseudo-administration to dilute oppositional politics.
“To invigorate democracy in an increasingly diverse country” (p 43) he mentioned a range of pointless ideas “to build common feeling and discipline in a diverse country.” (p 44) Why do we need “common feeling?”
Umunna’s fear of political combat, of oppositional politics and of revolutionary change was pungent throughout his flaccid proposals on democracy. His antagonism toward democracy and toward politics jumped from his words. He revealed his intent to kill democracy by removing its effect.
Patriotic Internationalism and Global Power Umunna invented the phrase “Patriotic Internationalism.”
“As progressives we are unapologetically patriotic. We respect the history and traditions of this country and will always do what it takes to safeguard Britain’s national security. We will protect the sovereignty of the nation state which is the UK, but we are resolutely internationalist too.” (p 16)
The “internationalist” aspect of his patriotism was reminiscent of Henry Jackson Society‘s aim to Westernise the world, by force if necessary.
“Where appropriate, we should pool power and work closely with other nation states which share our values to shape the world.” (p 16)
Earlier he had declared that “Britain’s unique history requires us to remain a global power” (p 8) and claimed that the “principles” in his paper “underpin a new approach to the economic renewal of Britain – a ‘British Model’ – that combines the strengths of the economic approach elsewhere in northern Europe with the best of our current Anglo-Saxon model.” (p 6)
The underlined phrase above recalled a routine by Stewart Lee on UKIP and immigration that retreated back in time to try to find occupants of Britain to which UKIP wouldn’t object. The use of such an absurd phrase by Umunna was a deliberate plea for support from the extreme right of British politics.
Umunna, correctly, observed that three large international institutions – NATO, World Bank and World Trade Organisation – had lost what was supposed to have been their original focus – “become a feeble version of the original” (p 46) – but his concern was that “the idealism of the West has been tarnished.” (p 46)
On “Global Power” he partook of a frenzy ofnew colonialism.
“Britain’s unique history requires us to remain a global power. London is the historic commercial centre of the shipping industry. Our naval base in Bahrain has been revived, recognising that east of Suez is once again of strategic global importance. Our two new aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales along with the French carrier in production could play a leading role in a naval version of an international Rapid Reaction Force. Britain must reinvent this circle of influence by combining our hard power with a role as a democratic leader, a social connector, and an ideas maker. Among our greatest assets are our language, our culture and our history. The strongest relationships a country can make come through cultural association. We must nurture our global pre-eminence in soft power. But we must be wary of not using it to avoid tough decisions or disguise a lack of will. Britain has a role to play, but only if we have the political will. Our world class diplomatic corps is a major force for British strategic power and influence.” (p 48/49)
Just like the colonialists of the 19th century, Umunna tried to justify the morality for military force and imposition of power by claiming to act in the interests of democracy and humanity elsewhere – “a priority is tackling climate change and its impact on water and food security” (p 48) – but he revealed his fear of what the rest of the world might do if Britain doesn’t rule the waves once again.
“We need to play our part in rebuilding a global order based on democracy and the rule of law. If we fail to act, if we leave Britain broken and divided, if we allow tyranny and illiberalism in the world to grow, there will be consequences and they will hurt us.” (p 49)
The desire to suffocate politics Under the title “The need to change politics” Umunna concluded his mess with a restatement of a commitment to denying combative politics and stifling oppositional activism.
He described the content of his paper as an “outline of an agenda around which a new consensus in our country can be forged” and “the renewal and reunification of Britain should begin [with] new coalitions. Left and right, workers and owners.” (p 50)
He reduced cohesive revolutionary politics and challenges to exploitation as “tribes” – “Different political tribes have some different emphases but often agree with each other more than they might realise or care to admit” (p 50) – and said “we need to work together to heal the wounds, to build bridges.” (p 50)
“Consensus,” “reunification,” “tribes” and “build bridges” are standard phrases of untrustworthy centrists who fear that effective revolutionary politics might succeed; they want to suffocate its progress and kill it.
Given the increasing likelihood of a general election and a victory for a Corbyn-led government, opponents of socialism are fearful. They express their fear with bizarre articles and speeches and with daft comments in interviews and in social media posts.
Below is a continuously updated list of links to the most absurd anti-Corbyn comments.
N.B. The use of the word “journalist” is intended to be sarcastic.
Unelected lord and anti-Corbyn screaming head Andrew Adonis has, remarkably, been selected as a candidate for Labour in South West region of England in the European election. He is Labour’s second choice in that region and Labour has one MEP there prior to the election so Labour would need to gain a seat for Adonis to be elected. It is unlikely that Labour will make a gain in the South West region.
Given that it unlikely Adonis will be elected, why is he standing?
Adonis loves being on TV. His eagerness to appear on any news show is matched by the willingness of producers to book him despite his abject negativity and banal vacuity; he is the Josh Widdicombe of news and current affairs. Broadcasters fail to acknowledge the absurdity of seeking the opinion of an unelected peer to discuss or debate issues of democracy.
One of Adonis’ opponents in the South West region is The Brexit Party’s Annunziata Rees-Mogg, sister of far-right Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg. Spurious competition between Adonis and Rees-Mogg is a worthless pantomime welcomed by hapless TV producers and by both candidates.
Adonis’ enthusiasm to be a TV talking head is driven by more than ego. Opposition to the left-of-centre politics of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell is Adonis’ priority. Immediately after the 2017 general election, whereat Labour had many gains and the Tories lost their parliamentary majority they had attained in 2015 when Corbyn was not Labour leader, Adonis demanded that Corbyn be removed as leader. “Leaderswho lose a first election virtually never win a second. Labour needs a new leader as soon as possible,” quoted in Adonis in Politicshome.
When eight right-wing Labour MPs resigned and formed Independent Group with some Tories but did not call by-elections Adonis’ reaction was to warn the Labour leadership of the possibility of more departures if Labour didn’t abandon its tendency leftward.
“Those who have today walked out the door are a warning to the leadership that the intolerable pressure and abuse being piled on some is unacceptable.”
The correct reaction to their departure was to shout “good riddance” and to demand a by-election. If they were required to call by-elections they would not have left. They are stealing parliamentary seats from voters who voted Labour. They are democracy thieves. But, Adonis, armed with the lack of obligation to call by-elections for the stolen seats, preferred to issue a threat of further theft. He endorsed the attack on democracy by the Independent Group.
In the same article Adonis noted that the SDP in the 1980s “undermined Labour in the 1983 and 1987 elections [by taking (Labour) votes in marginal seats]. A new centre party could do the same unless Corbyn addresses the fundamental causes of discontent.” Again, a threat: Do as the non-socialists want or else! But, the difference between the 1980s and today is that then Neil Kinnock was too weak to challenge the narrative of SDP whereas Corbyn and his colleagues are able and confident enough to criticise Independent Group succinctly and to present a cohesive alternative to drab soft conservatism.
Adonis’ most noteworthy contribution to his campaign so far was to openly dissuade voters from voting Labour in the European election. In an interview on LBC he said
“If you’re a Brexiter, I hope that you won’t vote for the Labour Party because the Labour Party is moving increasingly against Brexit… I’m saying if what you want is Brexit delivered, you should vote for the party that is going to deliver Brexit, which I’m afraid is the Conservatives.”
For unelected peer Adonis making stupid points about Remain is all that matters. Democracy is a game for Adonis. The irony is that, if Brexit is cancelled, which is what Adonis claims to want, then MEPs elected this year will have a full term in the European parliament, but Adonis doesn’t want too many of those MEPs to be Labour.
Adonis is a performer. His focus is trying to stop electoral success of a left-of-centre Labour party in any election. His candidature in the European election is a farce.
This year’s election for the European parliament is on a different day to any other election in the UK because Britain’s involvement wasn’t confirmed early enough to switch the date of council elections to coincide with the Euro election; coupled with the fact that the tenure of any elected British MEP might end after a few months if Brexit happens, a low turnout in Britain is certain.
However, politicians and bubble-encased media hacks are promoting the Euro election as if it is a huge event. The prevailing presentation of this event is a Remain versus Leave grudge match. Two recently invented parties have received plenty of free exposure by TV, radio and newspapers, one from each side of the grudge: Change UK (Remain) and The Brexit Party (Leave). Support for Remain and for Leave is their only difference.
There are several similarities between the two inventions.
Funding Avoidance of declaration of funding is a similarity.
Change UK, previously known as Independent Group, which was actually a business called Gemini A Ltd, was able to receive funding without declaration because it was a business not a party.
The Brexit Party has received many similar-sized donations from a similar source in USA at a value just below the minimum declarable level.
Democracy? Sidestepping democracy is a similarity.
The MPs and councillors in Change UK left their previous parties (some from Labour and some from Tory) and sat, initially, as “independent” representatives without calling by-elections before joining Change UK, still without by-elections.
The Brexit Party’s main protagonist, privately educated former broker and obedient apostle of Steve Bannon, Nigel Farage, left UKIP and sat as an “independent” in the European parliament before forming/joining The Brexit Party without, at either change, calling a by-election.
Structure Both parties were created by current politicians (elected as members of other parties). On their respective launch dates neither party had any other members or activists. Neither party has any localised structure, any internal democratic structure or internally elected members, any rules and regulations or any staff.
In summary, both parties are a small group of experienced politicians who stole their seats from voters who voted for other parties, both have wealthy (mostly secretive) donors splurging money on them and both have had easy and underserved access to media airtime.
Neither party would exist without Brexit. For Remain, Change UK bleats about a second referendum; for Leave, The Brexit Party says the UK should leave the EU regardless of consequences. That is all. Beyond their opposite commitments to Remain and to Leave they have no other policies at all. PR and hollow soundbites are their language. Change UK and The Brexit Party mock democracy.
In the campaign for the EU referendum inter-connected Leave lobby groups lied relentlessly and brazenly, hid their funding and ignored election rules and law. Such behaviour was unsurprising: The Leave campaign was led by functionaries working for disaster capitalists and, thus, it was bereft of integrity or honesty; most of the protagonists were disreputable, tax-dodging lowlifes.
Carole Cadwalladr’s investigations helped to expose some of the tactics used by Leave campaigners including their adept use of social media platforms, particularly Facebook. Such exposure was informative and interesting but it had no effect on the result of the referendum and it cast doubt on the intelligence of Leave voters by suggesting they were misled easily.
Gradually, and deliberately, Cadwalladr’s focus moved from the Leave campaigners’ tactics to social media platforms that they used. Yesterday, at a TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conference, she blamed social media for breaking democracy.
“Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Jack Dorsey, and your employees and your investors too. We are what happens to a western democracy when a hundred years of electoral laws are disrupted by technology. What the Brexit vote demonstrates is that liberal democracy is broken, and you broke it.”
There are a few problems with the above comment.
Remain campaigners had the option of using the same tactics on social media platforms as Leave campaigners used
None of the social media platforms has or had functionality designed to “break democracy“
On every day during any election campaign newspapers try to direct voting via use of false information and libel, mostly from a right-of-centre perspective
Social media helps people to share information and to organise; that is, it assists democracy
Carole Cadwalladr’s focus on social media as the “breaker” of democracy, rather than newspapers, TV or the plethora of secretly funded right-wing think-tanks, was knowingly deceptive. Her lament for democracy was hypocritical: She has stated her support for Independent Group/Change UK whose entire existence is based on stealing parliamentary seats from voters who voted for other parties.
Her descent down the rabbit hole concluded with a sermon from the centrist knoll.
“It is not about left or right, or Leave or Remain, or Trump or not. It’s about whether it’s actually possible to have a free and fair election ever again. As it stands, I don’t think it is. And so my question to you [social media companies] is: Is this what you want? Is this how you want history to remember you? As the handmaidens to authoritarianism that is on the rise all across the world? You set out to connect people and you are refusing to acknowledge that the same technology is now driving us apart.”
The key comment in her mini-sermon was “not about left or right but about free and fair elections.” Centrists fear any social activism, online or elsewhere. To attract attention and sympathy they initially express that fear as fear of the right; subsequently, as shown by Cadwalladr in the above quote, the fear is presented as conflated fear of left and right. The next step down the rabbit hole is fear of socialism.
For Cadwalladr, the problem is loss of control of the narrative ahead of elections. If people are able to exchange information, ideas, opinions and stories online and are able to use social media platforms to organise or to express solidarity then the newspapers, radio and TV are being bypassed and the directional propaganda from governments is being set aside.
Fear of the success of use of social media platforms as political activism is a fear that exists in the Tory government and throughout established media outlets.
The targets of popular satirical comedy have changed over time.
1960s anti-establishment comedy, led by Peter Cook and David Frost, pricked the previously untouched pillars of British authority. In the 1970s impressionist Mike Yarwood set a tone of anti-left comedy. Students took control again in the 1980s and aimed at Thatcher and Reagan but, bereft of the wit and intelligence of the 60s’ experts, their satire was often clumsy and lacked incisiveness. In the following decades comedians became obsessed with talking about themselves, exaggerating their foibles and starring in eponymous sitcoms.
Now, nearly twenty years into the 21st century, satirical comedy on TV has neutered itself.
Run-of-the-melts Political safety and job security are the inspiration for today’s popular satirical comedians. Evacuated from the radio 4 bowel onto BBC 2 and Dave, fearful centrist melts offer meek criticisms of political figures and acts. Their observations are excruciatingly obvious. Wit, knowledge and insight are eschewed. There is no attempt to add to the conversation. The flaccidity of the melts’ satirical analysis is deliberate and purposeful. It is pretence of satire.
Political conformity is ever-present in the behaviour of today’s melting satirists. They regurgitate prevailing bubble-created catatonic opinions from the detached centre. The key fear that reeks throughout the centre is the fear of socialism and run-of-the-melts enjoy repeating reactions to this fear via uncerebral isolated pithless stock phrases that would sit comfortably in a Daily Mail comment piece.
The melts’ jokes and jokey remarks lack invention matched by a lack of honesty. No preparation precedes, there is no accompanying didactic narrative and no residual afterthought. Everything is forced, like platitudes on an estate agent’s blurb for a house. It is drab and full of snide. Current TV political satire is the antithesis of what it should be. Its characteristics are obedience and suffocation of wit. It is a slow death of satire.