Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Do they know how much they are despised?

"How should the left respond to populism and Russia’s hybrid war against the West?" asks Wakefield MP Mary Creagh. My immediate suggestion would be to acquire a sense of self-awareness. Creagh writes: 
‘There was a time when politicians were amazing and anything seemed possible.’ Southwark council leader Peter John‘s words at Tessa Jowell’s memorial service got a hollow laugh from those present, evoking, as they did, the heady days of a three-term Labour government.
We were busy: tackling child poverty, passing the world’s first Climate Change Act, and preparing for an Olympic games that would show the very best of British talent and present a welcoming, open, inclusive face to the world. Fast forward to 2018 and events that were scarcely imaginable 10 years ago have come to pass: Donald Trump in the White House, Vladimir Putin stronger than ever in the Kremlin, Britain set to leave the European Union, racism and nationalism on the rise across Europe. The demagogues, populists and extremists on the far left and far right seem intent on dismantling the rules-based international order.
This is the establishment speaking. First we get the self-congratulation. "We were busy with things that we think are terribly important... bloating the state and entrenching welfarism, driving up energy bills for homes and industry and hosting a narcissistic jamboree".

It was "scarcely imaginable" that we would see a populist surge says Creagh, despite the BNP having hoovered up a million votes and Ukip growing exponentially. This at a time when political correctness had an even greater grip than it does now. Nobody would admit that there were problems with a surge of migrants and no mainstream politician dare speak frankly about it. What did she think was going to happen? But of course Creagh, like the rest of the establishment was too wrapped up in Westminster's vain obsessions, caught in the media feedback loop; convinced that their "progressive" values were representative of Britain.

For those who cared to look, most of the drivers were already there, and though massive CSE scandals have come to light in recent years it was major issue even in 2007 - but only the BNP was talking about it. Mainstream politics wouldn't touch it with a barge pole. Even Ukip was hesitant to wade into that debate as it was trying to maintain its image a s civic nationalist libertarian party. Only in the latter third of its life did Ukip become primarily an immigration obsessed party. To say that the establishment was out of touch was something of an understatement.

Leftists will naturally blame neoliberalism, austerity and the financial crash, but these factors were only really cracks in the dam and for all that messages were sent and the signals were there to be read, Westminster wasn't listening. Much of its spending carried on as normal, we sill saw council bosses on obscene salaries with offensive golden parachutes while we saw multiple systemic failures like the NHS Mid-Staffordshire scandal which was nothing at all to do with austerity.

The Blair government was always a loathsome one known for its supreme arrogance. Blair acquired the name Teflon Tony largely as a result of stonewalling the media. A scandal would break that would ordinarily require a minister to step down. A ministerial resignation usually weakens a prime minister. This did not happen. With slick media management and spin, each time Labour managed to hold the line. It did not go unnoticed by voters.

In its twilight years though, New Labour was more obnoxious and more corrupt than ever. Gordon Brown labelling an old lady in the street a bigot has become a totem of the Labour attitude to the working class. By this time, with what was regarded as the weakest government in decades, the fresh faced Cameron should have wiped Labour off the map. But he didn't. 

When Cameron took the leadership he adopted more or less the same media management techniques, going out of his way to alienate the party base and driving them into the arms of Ukip. He wanted to sanitise the party and prove to the media that the Conservative Party was no longer a conservative party. And therein lies the problem. Politicians more concerned with courting the media and seeking their approval rather than appealing to voters. It cost him an outright win in 2010 and only the offer of a referendum got him over the line in 2015.

For a long time you could justifiably say that there was no point in voting because all the parties are the same - broadly centrist social democrats committed to welfarism and the big state, constant warfare, while preaching to us about recycling and bespoiling our landscapes with wind turbines. They weren't going to let us have a say on Lisbon, they were going to keep denying the problems with immigration and they were going to keep using us as cash cows for their vanity projects. By 2015 that feeling of voicelessness and disaffection had reached the point of no return. 

You only have to look at the televised leaders debate to see Carlone Lucas, Labour and the Lib Dems calling Ukip "far right" - essentially sneering at the working class and even though I was at the time militantly anti-Ukip I still couldn't help but despise the establishment more. I couldn't wait to vote to leave the EU. Not least because these trends are deeply intertwined with the EU issue. So who, according to Creagh, is to blame for all this? You guessed it. Russia.
Russia’s domination of the social media space through Twitter and Facebook has been revealed to have been one of the major forces at work in the Brexit vote. Thanks to the investigative journalism of the Guardian’s Carole Cadwalladr, and whistleblowers from the ‘Leave’ campaign, we can see that Russian money and bot farms were behind some of the fake accounts used to push a pro-Brexit narrative in the referendum campaign and on the day itself.
Firstly one notes that Cadwalladr's "journalism" is really just a smokescreen of innuendo which has uncovered some irregularities, but nothing decisive. The legacy remain movement, though, has done everything it can to weave a conspiracy narrative to delegitimise the referendum. Only a fraction of Twitter traffic can be attributed to bots and they cannot tell us what this actually achieved. 

More than likely these bot farms were operations used by individuals to buy followers and the Brexit related activity was designed to make these accounts look active so as to evade Twitter system cleansing. Twitter has an odd dynamic where you the more followers you have the faster your growth so many new to Twitter who couldn't wait the two years or so it takes to build a foundation of followers will have used this shortcut. No reasonable person could say it turned the tide of the referendum not least because Twitter itself is a bubble and largely irrelevant to the lives of anyone who isn't a political obsessive. Creagh continues...
Russia’s propaganda now dominates the cybersphere, targeting individuals with disinformation and propaganda campaigns. The aim of the operations are clear – to use sophisticated, military grade psychological weapons to play on and inflame pre-existing tensions in a country, for example Catalonian separatism in Spain, the arrival of refugees in Germany or the role of the EU in the United Kingdom.
I have no doubts that Russia is dabbling in this stuff, but still in terms of who has the lions share of ordinary voters attention, it's still the BBC by a country mile. As obnoxious and preening as the BBC is, it is through that lens that we see politicians at their most nauseating. What won it for leave was a general revulsion at our political class and its celebrity flunkies. Izzard, Geldof, Branson et al. 

Any way you cut it, it wasn't Russia who alienated and ignored the working class for more than a decade. Germany did let nearly a million refugees in and yes it did have a corresponding rise in violent crime. Meanwhile, if anyone has been promoting separatism it is the EU whose promotion of defunct regional identities to weaken national bonds is a major component. Russia and domestic populists may stoke pre-existing tensions but that is also in the face of a supine establishment which cannot even bring themselves to admit exist. 

There are other themes in the piece that show a similar lack of self-awareness and more than a hint of snobbery but the conclusion is most interesting.
The rules-based international order was hard fought for. It was hard won and now it must be hard defended. Labour’s values of internationalism, tolerance, love of the environment and solidarity are necessary now more than ever. We have much more in common than those who seek to divide us, as self-proclaimed ‘boat-dweller’ and cyclist Jo Cox memorably said. Now, more than ever, both inside the Labour party and outside, is a time to live by those words.
It suits Creagh galactic ego to think that the plebs turned against the establishment order because of sophisticated internet hypnosis. Not for a nanosecond does it occur to her that she and those like her might be the problem. No! The order is to be defended at all costs! It is not they who must change. It is simply a matter of doubling down on the same old politically correct and socially convenient fluff. 

It is interesting that she invoked Jo Cox, who was very much the personification of the establishment. This extract of an article written about her at the time of her death summed it up for me.
Hers was the typical smooth career path of the modern political cog. From her grammar school, where she was the Head Girl, she seamlessly moved onto an extended period at two universities before emerging as professional aid worker for Oxfam and Save the Children. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was another fashionable international development outfit in which she managed to wangle a position as “advisor.”
She certainly travelled extensively, but to what extent did she get her hands dirty? Rather than mopping sweat-covered brows, her role as a policy consultant seemed to revolve swanning around seminars, conferences and committee rooms in Brussels and London. Networking, rather than counselling, seems the main skill in this field.
The safe Labour seat seems to have been a reward for acting as a bag-carrier for prominent political wives such as that of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and a former Labour leader and Euro aristocrat Neil Kinnock. Her constituency seat had been represented by local white men for decades so an all-female shortlist had to be imposed on the local party to ensure an acceptable candidate could be given this plum. 
It was a gilded lifestyle with a houseboat on the Thames beside Tower Bridge at which she hosted networking events for important left-wing women. There was a second house in her constituency which was a venue for a huge Solstice party each year. 
The role of international aid worker is highly valued among a section of shrewd university-educated females. It offers a particularly attractive combination of a good salary in an expanding sector, frequent foreign travel and high status among the do-gooding circles.
This is ever so typical of modern politics which has centralised and demolished any semblance of local democracy - where we are forced to endure these bland, compliant functionaries, marinated in political correctness and happy to regurgitate the platitudes and attitudes of their political masters. (And are well-rewarded for doing so). Creagh recites her immortal words that "We have much more in common than those who seek to divide us". Sorry but who is this we?

I actually don't have anything in common with the liberal establishment - especially as it travels deeper down the rabbithole of transgender rights where we are now putting child-grooming men in women's prisons on the basis of their self-identity. 

I don't have anything in common with a Labour party that tells victims of grooming to "shut their mouths" for the sake of diversity. I have nothing in common with a party that seeks to reward a race to the bottom in victimhood Olympics. I do not want a surpranational rules based order that destroys democracy. I want nothing to do with the creeping censoriousness of the left. Mary Creagh and her ilk make my skin crawl. For as long as these people control the narrative (which they do even when they are not in power) we will continue to see a rise of "populism" - and when we have politicians as vile as Creagh, I have no idea why that's a bad thing. The best thing the left can do to respond to populism is to crawl into a hole and die. 

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