Monday, 5 June 2017

The Tories Are Failing To Defend British People

The Tories are failing to defend British people, as the Manchester and London attacks demonstrate.  Last week in the Question Time Leaders non-debate, we saw old Tory, red faced, white men frothing at the mouth desperate for a Prime Minister who would push the red button, and consign humanity to nuclear Armageddon.  Having a PM prepared to push the nuclear button is about as useful as a chocolate teapot, when the real threat to British people comes not from some hypothetical enemy, at some unspecified time in the future, in some unforeseeable conditions, but from real threats to British people, here and now in their everyday lives.

The Tories are happy to spend £100 billion on Trident submarines and nuclear missiles, which will never be used, and if they were would mean that humanity is doomed.  Yet, they have cut 20,000 police from the streets, where the real threat to British people resides, not just from terrorists but from criminals, from anti-social behaviour and so on, including all of those racists, xenophobes and other bigots that the Tories mentality has encouraged.  That same group of elderly Tory, white men in last week's audience, who, towards the end of their lives, are prepared to consign humanity to nuclear oblivion, are also the same group who have consigned all of the rest of us to the horrors of Brexit, of Britain's increasing isolation in the world, and given encouragement to all of the bigots, for whom such a prospect is welcome.

But, the Tories have also created the conditions that threaten the security of British people in other ways, as well as by cutting 20,000 cops from the streets.  They have, like Donald Trump been keen to line themselves up with the feudal despots of Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf monarchies.  Yet, it is those same regimes that have provided the funding, arms, training and ideology of the Islamist terror groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS, and so on.  The Tories, and their predecessors, have been happy to continue to provide weapons to those regimes, because they were allies of Britain and the US in overthrowing Gaddafi, and trying to overthrow Assad.  Yet, as events have shown, terrible as those regimes were in Libya and Syria and Iraq, and the same applied in Egypt, it was only those dictators that were actually keeping a lid on the Islamists, and their warring factions.

No one would want to support Saddam, Gaddafi, or Assad but my enemy's enemy is not my friend, and the reality was that the only other social forces that were going to replace them, if they were overthrown were people who are even worse.  The West has done nothing to facilitate the development of those societies and to help the develop of a strong secular working and middle class that is the fundamental requirement for a bourgeois social-democracy that could have been the only credible replacement for those dictatorships.  And by mindlessly then seeking to overthrow the existing Bonapartist regimes, they simply did the work for the Islamists, that their own forces could not achieve.  In the process, they have created chaos and reaction across the Middle East, Africa and spreading out into Asia, and now the consequences of that is coming home, as those Islamists attempt to spread their vile, hate filled message into Europe too.  Once again the Tories have been more concerned at bombing countries in the Middle East, in whose affairs they had no reason to meddle, rather than using the resources to actually protect people in Britain.

In getting involved in those counties the Tories, and conservative social democrats like Blair, were not seeking to defend and protect the people of Britain.  They were merely seeking to promote the global military-strategic interests of western countries, and in the process the financial interests of the global super rich.  But, they even failed in that.  They made the situation worse, not better.

And at home, the Tories, and conservative social-democrats like Blair, also contributed to that problem.  On the one hand, the basic industries declined, and urban areas were allowed to decay, because the concern was centred solely on winning the votes of a narrow middle class section of society.  But, again, in the longer term, even that strategy failed in its aims.  Blair saw Labour's vote shrink in every election, up to the defeat in 2010.  But, those aspiring middle class voters also saw that the vision they had been presented with was a mirage, as stock markets crashed and could only be kept afloat with ever increasing amounts of funny money printed by central banks.  At the same time, they found that houses that should have been affordable to buy, and have been affordable to every previous generation since WWII, became unaffordable, and their kids had no prospect of buying a home, especially as they were landed with £60,000 of debt on leaving university.

In the meantime, in those decayed inner city areas, people who had been given no hope, other than a lifetime dependent on welfare, often sinking into a drug and alcohol addiction, left to try to exist by their own individual wiles, sought easy answers.  For one group that meant lashing out at easy targets, such as migrants.  For another group, made up largely of the children of migrants, and seeing this increasing racism and xenophobia, along with the bombing of the Middle East, were driven into the opposing reaction, seeing some means of fighting back by aligning themselves with the Islamists.

The fact that our communities, and all of those institutions of communities, such as the workplace, the trades union and so on have been either destroyed or hollowed out, means that there is no channel at a local level to provide an alternative collective vision of hope for those that have been abandoned by society.  The Tories policies have helped to create that situation, and we desperately need to reverse it.

Looking at the barbarous attack the other day, it symbolised the problem on a wider scale, however. The Tories are prepared to spend £100 billion on Trident, but cut 20,000 police.  In the same way, they are prepared to spend £100 billion on HS2, while our roads are full of potholes, and in constant need of repair.  The people killed on Saturday night were the sole responsibility of the animals who carried out the attack, but the ability to kill people by driving a vehicle on to the pavement highlights a further problem.  It is not just the case that people get killed on our roads, and pavements by terrorists.

Last week I walked with my wife into Newcastle, about a three mile walk.  On nearly all of the journey, we had our hearts in our mouths, because even where there was a pavement along a busy trunk road, it was facing in the same direction as the flow of traffic, so that you couldn't see what was coming up behind you, and the pavement was so narrow that every time a vehicle came past at speed, it felt like you were about to be dragged under it.  Thirty years ago, I used to cycle to work, but gave it up after nearly being killed several times, by inconsiderate drivers, or by having the front wheel disappear into a pothole, or a grid.

Twenty years ago, as a County Councillor, I continually argued that if we were going to encourage people out of cars and on to their feet or bikes, it was necessary first to ensure that doing so was safe, which means physically separating vehicles from pedestrians and cyclists.  Had that been done, it would be impossible to kill innocent civilians by driving vehicles into them.  The point was made in this blog in relation to London, in 2013.  Around 2,000 people a year are killed on Britain's roads.  If each of those incidents got the same media attention that the terrorist attacks receive, there would be nothing on TV or in the press other than reporting of traffic accidents!  People would be afraid to go out of their homes and on to the roads, for fear of being killed.  Yet, no such reporting is done, because unlike these everyday threats that people face, terror attacks are sensational, they provide much better audiences for the media.

And, the Tories are far more likely to spend billions of pounds on measures against such terror threats than they are to spend that money repairing our roads, ensuring that pedestrians and cyclists are safe, everyday, as they go about their business, because it fits in with their own narrative of encouraging us to be afraid of foreigners.  Yet, logically they would protect the lives of far more people if they simply spent the money required to repair our shattered infrastructure that decades of their austerity measures has inflicted.

On Sunday, that was again seen.  Both Labour and Tories had agreed to suspend national campaigning as a mark of respect.  Emily Thornberry and other Labour politicians abided scrupulously to that where they appeared on the TV.  But, May could not help herself.  There is not one commitment she makes, it seems, that she is not prepared to reverse, within hours of having given it.  No one can trust anything she says.  She could not help herself when, given the Downing Street pulpit, she came out, in the morning, to use the deaths of people to shamelessly campaign.  She used the platform to propagandise for Tory party policies for the election.  But, of course, it is the Tories that have been in government, now, for more than seven years.  They own all of the failings of the economy, all of the failings of Britain's foreign and domestic policy, along with their Liberal allies for much of that time in their coalition of chaos from 2010 to 2015.  It is, in fact, Theresa May who was Home Secretary during that period, and who bears direct responsibility for all of those policies that have failed to keep British people safe on the streets, in their communities, and in their homes!

We saw, in her electioneering speech, exactly what she means by a strong and stable leader.  Its someone who covers up their own incompetence by blaming others for their failings, and who uses bluff, bluster and lies to put the blame on others; it is someone who covers over their own incompetence by a casual disregard for others, who are treated as mere pawns in the game, like the Tories have done over guaranteeing rights to EU citizens living and working in Britain; it is being someone who is like an automaton, with no compassion for real human beings.  That is what Theresa May and her team amount to, and it is the kind of heartless, grim Britain that they and their dystopian vision of a hard Brexit Britain is leading us into.

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