Saturday, 1 October 2016

The politician is listening to concerns...

.The politician is listening to concerns
so though he is in favour of equal pay
he thinks that slightly less equal pay would be reasonable.
The politician is listening to concerns
so though he thinks there is no point in spending billions
on nuclear weapons
he thinks that spending a bit less on nuclear weapons
would be reasonable
The politician is listening to concerns
so though he is against selection in secondary schools
he thinks that some selection in selected area
would be reasonable
The politician is listening to concerns
so though he thinks that migration is not the cause of
worsening living standards
he think that he should say that migration is the cause of
worsening living standards
The politician is listening to concerns so though he is against capital punishment he thinks that partial execution would be reasonable
The politician is listening to concerns.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Middle is the new right: but they're telling us the left has got to be middle!



We're going to hear a lot about the 'middle ground' over the next few weeks. Martin Kettle is going on about it in today's Guardian. The 'theory' is that a) there is a middle ground b) it's nice being in the middle ground c) the left has to get the middle ground.

I see the following as a problems to this theory.

1. Simply saying there is a middle ground doesn't mean that it exists.

2. People are not simply one thing or another. Many people have mixtures of views some of which correspond to views that are traditionally 'left', some traditionally 'right'. These apparent differences and contradictions arise out of the fact that life contradicts itself. I may have reactions that stem from my economic situation which are in contradiction to, say, the views I have of royalty or people who 'speak nicely'. 

3. At any given moment, people's views and actions move and applying the metaphor of left, middle and right may not correspond to them. So to take the example of 'immigration'. It would appear from the way the media speak that 'immigration' is now officially a 'problem'. This makes it more serious and more dangerous for all of us than say, the consequences of the bankers' gambling crisis, the austerity measures put in place following that, tax avoidance/evasion and climate change. If a politician doesn't say that immigration is a problem that 'shows' that he or she is 'not listening' or is not in the middle ground. This means that coming up with some plan that will a) prevent people coming to live here, b) prevent Brits from living outside the UK c) probably result in EU migrants having to go back to the EU is now 'middle ground'. 

4. Same goes for Trident renewal. It is apparently 'middle ground' to be in favour of Trident renewal. In fact, there is a right wing argument against Trident renewal - spend the money on tooling up the regular army. Simplistically reducing Trident renewal to 'middle ground' is just demagoguery or what I would call testosterone politics: my weapons are bigger than yours - see me defend UK better than you by building more weapons. 

5. Same goes for any form of nationalisation. So though I lived through the 50s and 60s when trains, gas, electricity, water, education, health, coal, steel were all publicly owned and that's how we lived (presumably in the middle ground of that) it is now left to wish any kind of return to those times.


So we will get many siren calls for the 'middle ground' when in fact (I would argue) a set of right wing ideas has filled the 'middle ground' - or if you prefer, the scheme left, middle and right is like a sheet of transparent plastic, marked out with 'left, middle and right' on it'. Underneath this sheet, reality has moved rightwards. Middle is the new right.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Immigrants: ah but what about the self-employed?



It's been pointed out to me that 'migrants undercut self-employed people's' rates and fees.

i've replied like this:

I agree that self-employment is a different category - I should know, I'm a self-employed person. The problem with it though is that it's largely outside legislation and that's how a lot of the self-employed like it. Everything about it is 'voluntary' our stamps, our fees, our ability to fix those fees, how we are paid...etc. We all know of self-employed people who get paid under the table (it's not just Sam Allardyce). There is no way of addressing the problem of 'undercutting' without bringing self-employment under rigorous legal control. The problem is that many self-employed people would run screaming to the press about that, saying that the only way they can survive is getting paid on a wink and a nod, and don't we 'all' benefit from cheap building work, home help, gardening etc etc? So, the fault again, is not with migrants but about the whole non-legality of the self-employed sector.

Hello Labour politicians. I've scripted an opening line of a speech on immigration for you:



Hello Labour politicians. I've scripted an opening line of a speech for you:

"I've listened to people's concerns about immigration. I think many people falsely blame migrants for living-standards cuts engineered by George Osborne."

After that opener, feel free to use anything from my previous two blogs to back up your argument. 

"Listen to people's concerns about immigration'? You mean concerns you created!

There is level of hypocrisy and two-faced conning going on over migration.

On the one hand, politicians want migrants to come to help them balance the books. They want  young, strong, clever people to come to Britain to work on building sites, run the transport system, health service, work in new industries and work on farms and in the food industry. The taxes migrants pay, pay my state pension. It definitely isn't my NIC that's paid for it. That was spent years ago.

Meanwhile, governments Labour and Tory have failed to welcome and trumpet this replenishment to the economy. They have failed to make provision for the arrivals by building, renewing and expanding the social housing stock - council homes. Why should those brave Caribbeans of the 1950s and 1960s, say, who came to work on the building sites and in transport and health (in particular) have had to put up with the lousy, rack-rented housing of, say, Paddington? What horrible trick was it, to get them to come, to build up the post-war economy and say to them: 'You can go and live in the worst housing in London. Tough on  you!'

If that wasn't bad enough, we then get the same politicians - or their heirs - saying, 'We must listen to people's concerns about immigration'!!! Where do these concerns come from? They come from the fact that you politicians didn't make provision, you didn't trumpet the contribution the migrants have made and go on making. You just thought you'd get that contribution at the cheapest possible price to the Exchequer. You politicians created the conditions in which people 'have concerns'.

And if that wasn't bad enough (!) you have oafs and liars like Boris Johnson who hope that by constantly flirting with racist or near-racist words and phrases, they can conjure up votes and popularity. 'Good old Boris. He tells it how it is.'

Nearly every racist, every anti-migrant, every scapegoater in history has done it in order to win or secure power - a power that ends up in repression for everyone. The issue of migration or the 'racially inferior' or any such, is a means to an end: power. And when power is won, the repression required to move migrants about, to select and segregate people becomes (or even starts out as) a repression of all.

One story from history: the Nazis got to power in part by saying that 'the Jews' were the cause of Germany's problems arising out of the First World War and the uprisings within Germany by Communists and Socialists. 'The Jews' were, they said, behind both. This was one of the ways that they won power - legally through the ballot box.

The first political acts they took were against everyone - not the Jews. They were the Reichstag Decree and the Enabling Acts. The effect of these was the end of political parties, the end of a free press, the beginnings of martial law, the locking up of the leaders of the Communist and Socialist Parties, the locking of trade unionists. Acts against 'the Jews' came very soon after. The first concentration camp - Dachau - was for Communists, Socialists, trade unionists and dissidents.

The racism directed at the Jews was one of the means by which the Nazis won power, one of the means by which they could re-shape democratic politics into a dictatorship and a totalitarian state, and a way in which they could re-shape the economy so that it was free of any organisation which could fight for better wages, better conditions, pensions and holidays. Racism was used as a means by which they could attack everyone bar the army, the small business people, non-Jewish professionals,  and the super-rich.

"Listen to people's concerns about immigration'? You mean concerns you created!

There is level of hypocrisy and two-faced conning going on over migration.

On the one hand, politicians want migrants to come to help them balance the books. They want  young, strong, clever people to come to Britain to work on building sites, run the transport system, health service, work in new industries and work on farms and in the food industry. The taxes migrants pay, pay my state pension. It definitely isn't my NIC that's paid for it. That was spent years ago.

Meanwhile, governments Labour and Tory have failed to welcome and trumpet this replenishment to the economy. They have failed to make provision for the arrivals by building, renewing and expanding the social housing stock - council homes. Why should those brave Caribbeans of the 1950s and 1960s, say, who came to work on the building sites and in transport and health (in particular) have had to put up with the lousy, rack-rented housing of, say, Paddington? What horrible trick was it, to get them to come, to build up the post-war economy and say to them: 'You can go and live in the worst housing in London. Tough on  you!'

If that wasn't bad enough, we then get the same politicians - or their heirs - saying, 'We must listen to people's concerns about immigration'!!! Where do these concerns come from? They come from the fact that you politicians didn't make provision, you didn't trumpet the contribution the migrants have made and go on making. You just thought you'd get that contribution at the cheapest possible price to the Exchequer. You politicians created the conditions in which people 'have concerns'.

And if that wasn't bad enough (!) you have oafs and liars like Boris Johnson who hope that by constantly flirting with racist or near-racist words and phrases, they can conjure up votes and popularity. 'Good old Boris. He tells it how it is.'

Nearly every racist, every anti-migrant, every scapegoater in history has done it in order to win or secure power - a power that ends up in repression for everyone. The issue of migration or the 'racially inferior' or any such, is a means to an end: power. And when power is won, the repression required to move migrants about, to select and segregate people becomes (or even starts out as) a repression of all.

One story from history: the Nazis got to power in part by saying that 'the Jews' were the cause of Germany's problems arising out of the First World War and the uprisings within Germany by Communists and Socialists. 'The Jews' were, they said, behind both. This was one of the ways that they won power - legally through the ballot box.

The first political acts they took were against everyone - not the Jews. They were the Reichstag Decree and the Enabling Acts. The effect of these was the end of political parties, the end of a free press, the beginnings of martial law, the locking up of the leaders of the Communist and Socialist Parties, the locking of trade unionists. Acts against 'the Jews' came very soon after. The first concentration camp - Dachau - was for Communists, Socialists, trade unionists and dissidents.

The racism directed at the Jews was one of the means by which the Nazis won power, one of the means by which they could re-shape democratic politics into a dictatorship and a totalitarian state, and a way in which they could re-shape the economy so that it was free of any organisation which could fight for better wages, better conditions, pensions and holidays. Racism was used as a means by which they could attack everyone bar the army, the small business people, non-Jewish professionals,  and the super-rich.

Jeremy Corbyn: Talking of migrants...


Jeremy Corbyn, please say loud and clear, over and over again (because I know that this is what you think and believe):

1. Migrants didn't impose the austerity wage freeze, cuts to the NHS, education budgets, closures of libraries. That was Osborne.

2. If migrants are on low wages, that's because employers are breaking the minimum wage law. Get the employers.

3. Migrants didn't bring in council house sell-offs, migrants weren't the ones who stopped building new council houses.

4. Migrants didn't gamble with trillions, lose it down the black hole of lousy loans, nor get us to bale out the gamblers.