We wanted a Corbyn government. The others wanted a ‘more electable leader’. No matter. Meanwhile, the Tories wanted to stay in charge, despite not having anyone remotely suitable, so the nation got Boris the Liar, Boris the evil clown who let his friends run away with anything that wasn’t nailed down, then literally sat there partying while people died. Couldn’t be helped.
Voices off: What? You mean we should TOLERATE IT?
Me: no, we should not. but here’s the thing: It was inevitable. The system is well and truly captured. Nadine Dorries, of the ‘too stupid to even lie properly’ group in the Tory party, even said it last night, the Big Secret That Everyone Knows but NO POLITICIAN CAN EVER AFFORD TO SAY. She told us who runs the system:
Last night, The Tories divided more or less according to seats in the House (or to put it another way, wage packets) most of the front bench, Johnson’s team, voting to keep the big money until the next election, and a large proportion of backbenchers voting to get rid of the most embarrassing leader they’ve ever had.
You or I may think the problem with Johnson is the erosion of standards in law, in business and behaviour, and even more crucially the many, many people who have died as a result of bad government – died of COVID, of chronic poverty and lack of care, or died in camps in Calais and all the other places in the world where our country fails to address the problems of war and climate crisis, but…
But from a careerist politician’s point of view (doesn’t matter which party – all the careerists) the backbenchers are spot on. Johnson is a problem because his blatant ineptitude and dishonesty provide a daily show of the appalling state of our government and the establishment structures it represents.
Lots of people wanted to see Johnson fall last night. They didn’t get what they wanted but…
We’ve got what we need
This has been playing in my head, ever since I heard the result, so you may as well get it in your head, too…
Now, let’s play our cards right
Only believe it, and it’s true (that only works on things that ARE true, by the way, but this is true). We have got what we need. Now, it’s just a case of what we decide to do with it.
I personally think the party-political system is the mainstay of the establishment that has been shown up as irretrievably corrupt. It’s what gives the illusion of choice. You may not agree – you may still have a strong belief that one party’s better than another. You may be right – let’s not waste time on debating that just now. Let’s choose more ambitiously, instead. Seeing the Tories’ shame is not just a chance to replace them with another dysfunctional party, perhaps one slightly less awful…
A decade ago, I was still more or less supporting the Green Party, and was working with a friend on an Occupy action in London. He used to be a national officer in the LibDems but by then, as an environmental activist, would tell me he’d ‘done with party politics’. The whole shebang was sold out, in his view. I could see where he was coming from, but thought him a bit cynical (sorry, friend, if you’re reading this – you were right!) I carried the Green banner until the Labour Party caught my interest by choosing the less US-oriented, less-neoliberal Miliband brother. It then took another step towards the light by using a mistake Miliband made (or did he secretly do it on purpose?) to present Corbyn, a democratic socialist and, more revolutionary still, a man of conscience, as party leader.
So I dropped the Greens, and waved the Red banner while Labour was, more or less, Red. I was though, pretty shocked by the people who were running (and refused to let go of) the party. Now, I have friends who’ve experienced that same disillusion, rising to horror and disgust, in ALL the parties (no, the Greens aren’t ‘different’, they aren’t ‘nice’ not the ones with the grip on running the party).
So – not being a party-political activist any more, I’m not duty-bound to demand that you agree with me on every idea, or that you vote the same way I do, but I do want to remind you that party politics is part of the corrupt, despicable, ancien regime that we need to get rid of. All it does is make you fret and worry, trying to decide which is the least bad option to vote for, then trying desperately to persuade others to do the same. That worry drains your energy and your awareness of your own power.
Initially, the realisation that Westminster cannot and will not work for us is dispiriting. Even Tories now, are disillusioned. With Boris Johnson there, day in, day out, dancing the absurd like the organ-grinder’s monkey, people cannot forget that. That is what frees us to act. The twin distractions of either hope in, or exasperation with, career politicians are gone.
Here’s what we do:
For the many
Most people are basically decent. Most people believe in fair play, and in everyone being allowed to ‘have their say’. We may not always be very good at it, but we do, most of us, believe that everyone needs a fair hearing, and access to the things they need to survive. There are other ways of doing democracy that can provide those things, ways that don’t require the god-awful tribalism and competitiveness of party politics. We as citizens do affect what politicians do. We can demand high standards, or not. We can protest and push for what we want, or not. In this era of oppression and austerity, it’s hard, asking people to do that in the workplace, at least until they know most of their colleagues are ready to join in (kudos to those who take the lead in workplace organisation but it’s not fair to expect them to take the whole load though, or to do their bit in the place they are most vulnerable) but we can do it together, everywhere else.
But who do we vote for?
Even bothering to ask that question is a fundamental mistake. Vote if you want – I think you should, it shows politicians you’re paying attention — but thinking it matters is what causes people to feel powerless. The apparent importance lies in the illusion of party politics, and in the television-inspired, you-just-sit-and-watch culture. You don’t have to just sit there and wait for a decent party, or a decent candidate, to turn up.
Politicians are afraid of people thinking, acting and organising amongst themselves. They are afraid of protest, and afraid of alternative voices getting through. They are afraid because we can, and do, influence what they get away with. Never mind which party, never mind which politicians – now is the time for us – The Many – to exploit that craven fear of theirs, and lean on all of them.
What we need
We all need broadly the same things – a system that provides fair play, that guards our access to health, food and housing, that recognises the crises facing us, and protects us from wage depression, from war and from climate crisis – a system that ensures we have access to, and can afford, what we need.
We will all have our particular, individual needs and preferences, and those particular needs and preferences may be different – but that doesn’t matter. That’s just material for debates along the way. The big, huge, massive, extraordinarily overwhelming fact that politicians try to hide is that 99% of the time, WE ALL NEED THE SAME THINGS.
What we need most is to understand that they, the politicians, will do as much or as little as we MAKE them do, and will behave badly, or behave better, ACCORDING TO OUR REACTIONS. When we are together, visible and audible, their actions and words are influenced by what we want.
Be together, be visible, be audible
The purpose of evil clowns like Johnson, and cyphers like Starmer and the others, is to dispirit you, and make you think it’s not possible – but that’s a mirage. It is possible. Demand better.
In the last few weeks, there have been Demand Better meetings in many towns around the country. Here’s my write up of the Hastings one…
Don’t worry if you didn’t get to one of those meetings – here are the main points: this is not an action by any one political party or trade union. It is not even ‘just’ trade unions. It is community groups and charities, it is churches and people’s street groups – it is whoever wants to join in. Our task is to combine in large enough numbers, for long enough, to let ALL the politicians know – we are not that far from the next General Election and, whatever party they are in, whatever their personal aims are, we, The Many, Demand Better and we will not tolerate politicians who don’t address our needs.
Whether you went to one of those meetings or not, whether you can go to London for the big rally or not, please sign up to the Demand Better campaign – here’s a link on the TUC website…
… and if there’s a leafleting session anywhere near you, please go along and talk to those of us already involved and, if you’ve a mind, help out with the leafleting, and/or whatever your local Demand Better teams have in mind…
Demand Better Together
It doesn’t matter if you read this after the 8th. So long as you sign up on the TUC site, there will be others. It doesn’t matter which political party, or trade union, or charity, or church, or community group, you think – or used to think – would solve everything. It doesn’t matter. No one group can solve our problems, any more than any one person can – but together, as The Many, we can. Don’t sit around wondering who you’ll vote for next time. Don’t refuse to work with people who may have voted differently to you last time. Whatever groups or organisations you’re involved in, please go along this week, today, and ask them to join in and Demand Better – if you’re not a member of any groups, talk to your family, or your mates at work or down the pub. This is for everyone to do – together.
Okay – come on everybody – PU-U-U-SH!
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