V

I’ve always been the kind of person who’s mood is is very clearly reflected in my choice of reading and listening material – if it’s Kate bush on the stereo and I’m parked in the corner of the room reading Mervyn Peake then you know you’re on pretty safe ground with me.

This evening I decided to switch things around on my MP3 player and replace a fair bit of the more relaxed stuff I’ve been listening to for a while with a few old favorites…

…The Dead Kennedys, Black Flag/Henry Rollins, Rage Against the Machine, System of a Down – I guess you can see where this is going – and when I’ve finished this it’s off to the bookshelves to dig out a few bits annd pieces I haven’t read for a while; I strongly suspect the Hunter S Thompson collection’s about to resurface.

And then there is this…

The talk on a few blogs tonight – I won’t say which for the moment – is very much of what can we do to get rid of Blair/New Labour.

Sorry guys – you’re asking the wrong question there.

Seriously, Blair is not the problem, merely a symptom of the deeper malaise. You may well think that by working to get rid of Blair/New Labour you might just halt the creeping destruction of our civil liberties, maybe even secure a reversal of one or two of the more recent abyssal pieces of legislation.

Wrong.

Look at the edifice of social control that Blair and others are creating – I won’t go into detail here, you know what I mean. Take a real long hard look…

…and now ask yourself whether you truly, genuinely believe that any incoming government, whether its a straight switch to the Tories or some sort of loose coalition involving the Lib Dems, is seriously going to start dismantling that which Blair has built this last eight years?

You may a shift or two in economic policy, but can you really see any future government passing on ID cards and the power of the database state and seriously setting about taking it apart?

No. Me neither.

The problem here is not any one individual or any one political party but the whole rotten edifice; the modern political class that, today, dominates party politics, the managerialists and the state functionaries. It’s like a fucking hydra – you cut off one head (Blair) and two more grow back just as bad.

What is to be done?

I’m not entirely sure – there are ideas percolating around at the moment but nothing definite other than the sure and certain knowledge that if things are to change then we must find a way take the mandate to govern away from the existing political class – all of them.

We have maybe three, possibly four years before the next election – tine enough, I think, to get our thinking caps on…

…that is, if we really are serious about change.

  • I could see a Lib Dems government taking a pickax to these foundations of a police state. The Greens too, but the Conservatives or a Labour or Conservative dominated coalition, forget it. The best hope we have is of a hung parliament in which the Lib Dems extract PR as their price. This is both unlikely, and also delays any rollback for at least two general elections, assuming we still have such a quaint mechanism by then.

  • Since a large proportion the population don’t really care about any of this, seeing it as a warm blanket against the towel-heads, “if we really are serious about change” is a very pertinent statement: I am not sure we are.

    But I imagine the first step would be to undermine the ID card scheme. Just like the poll-tax, this could well be dropped before implementation, by a new government or one shade or another seeking to put some fresh-air between itself and Tony. We need to keep campaigning, and refuse them en mass.

  • Well…which govt voted in would make you feel safer about stopping Islam from overtaking the whole country in a few years? What laws need to be implemented to protect the national identity and rights of the British people?

  • before the next election

    You are an optimist.

    (Seriously – after the last couple of weeks there’s nothing I’d put past this crew. Sure, their MO to date has been to retain the appearance of democracy while vitiating the reality through cultivated apathy, cultivated panic and propaganda – but what will they do when the recipe stops working?)

  • Pip

    I kind of agree with Robert. If only 22% of the eligible electorate vote a party into power and less than 50% even bother to vote in the first place we are pretty much fucked by the total apathy of the public towards these issues. In any case the vox pop is likely to be an uninformed tabloid-driven “must do something about …..” type of response.

    I despair of the wholesale mandacity and hypocrisy of the political classes of all hues. The inexorable rush towards a totalitarian state is to my mind the biggest betrayal of democracy ever to occur in the UK. Therefore my thinking cap is on from today. Bring on the revolution, provided it also includes getting rid of the monarchy and all the free loaders that it contains.

  • Well, if any of you find the answer, be sure and tell the rest of the world.

  • One thing is for sure, we just can’t let New Labour continue. If they remain in office as they are things will continue to get worse and worse, so there has to be a change.

    There are changes we can make. Saying vote for anyone but labour might have an effect on the party, especially if the May council elections are a failure for them.

    The Lib Dems have one strong card to play in revitalising our broken political system; Proportional Representation. Without major electoral reform real change won’t come.

    But at the present time advocating that people do vote and vote for anyone but labour is the best idea I’ve heard. It’s not the panacea for all ills, but it is the beginning of a strategy .

    Your idea is, what? Saying everything’s terrible and we can’t change anything? That’s no solution.

  • DanielDrat

    One part of me wants to stand and fight, the rest of me just wants to run away and let the whole thing collapse on the people who say by and let this happen.

  • Britain becoming an Islamic state?!? Don’t make me laugh, 1930s Germany had a greater chance of becoming Israel than that happening. No, I agree with Lord Hoffman that: “The real threat to the life of the nation, in the sense of a people living in accordance with its traditional laws and political values, comes not from terrorism but from laws such as these.”

  • You want to be careful. This sort of thing might be considered an incitement to revolutionary violence by the accredited police state. The sad part is that this isn’t a joke.

    Pretty much agree with you. Certainly can’t imagine the Tories repealing these laws. I have this perhaps naive hope that the Lib Dems will make liberalism their central issue in the next few years and that this might make some difference. Not hugely optimistic about it though. The masses have many opiums these days.

  • It’s got to be a two stage strategy. Vote anyone but Labour is fine and necessary, but there has to be a second step to prevent an incoming Government picking up the authoritarian reins the Labour party have left behind.

    If the idea is to take back power from politicians, then we need a written constitution and a bill of rights. The risk with this is that it is likely to become an exercise in trying to hard code in particular political views rather than creating limits on government.

  • Further thoughts:

    I think you’re right. None of the parties are actually concerned with the liberties of the individual. So here’s another idea: a coalition of the willing to form a one term government whose sole purpose will be to put in place a new constitutional settlement. Sort of a second Glorious Revolution.

  • Bishop; that’s pretty much the idea, but I’m trying to be more cautious in my terminology, don’t want to chase off those who dislike radical ideas.

    Essentially, I believe our only chance is to get a hung parliament with a big Lib Dem contingent; Huhne is certainly talking the right way, and from what I’ve heard about him he genuinely believes in it.

    Unity? I’m all ears. And, as an aside, you’re completely right, Blair’s NuLab is a symptom, but the cause can’t be fixed with them in power, getting them out is stage one of many.

  • Unity

    Bishop, Mat:

    I agree a Great Reforming Parliament would be the ideal.

    As for a first step along the way, being a lefty my natural historical ‘pull’ is towards the Chartists but we need to be ‘catholic’ in our influences to bring together such a coalition, which will certainly bring us to the Levellers, Paine, Mill, Locke, Isaiah Berlin, Montesquieu, Franklin, Jefferson and other besides, as philosophical influences.

    I think this can work if we can allow reason and rationalism to be our guide.

    As for a new constitutional settlement, that’s not so difficult as it might first appear if one remembers that the purpose of a consitution is to define an appropriate system of governance and not lock in things like fiscal and social policy.

    We also have both good (US) and bad (EU consitutional treaty) examples to guide us.

    The thorny issues which will take some work and need debating are likely to be the extent and scope of devolved powers and the West Lothian question on the constitutional side and the legitimate extent to which social rights should be included in the Bill of Rights.

    The important thing is to develop a clear programme – it’s no good being vague and just saying that we want a consitution, a bill of rights, electoral reform etc, what’s needed is clarity – if we want a Bill of Rights, then we should say clearly what rights should be in it and how those rights relate to other parts of the constitutional settlement – for example a full constitutional Bill of Rights would necessarily bring an end to Parliamentary supremacy as even Parliament would have to bow to the constitution which would empower a Supreme Court to strike down unconstitutional laws.

    That sounds a tall order, but there is, I think, sufficient talent in the blogosphere to debate and develop these things plus the prospect of others joining if we can build a bit of momentum.

  • See Silvio Berlusconi for what can be achieved in a short space of time on a single issue (in his case anti-Communism, even though it was after the collapse of the USSR) – as long as you have finance. (He is also a prime example of how quickly a single-issue campaign can quickly become fractured and subverted, but by necessity we should only look at the short-term solution on this.)

    Any potential pro-civil liberties movement needs a big – and I mean MASSIVE – financial backer. Far, far bigger then Jimmy Goldsmith and his Referendum Party lot.

    Without the money, there’s no hope. But with it, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that a new party could be set up and field enough candidates by the next general election to genuinely have an impact.

    These civil liberties issues unite people from right across the political spectrum. I had a link from a National Front forum earlier today agreeing entirely with an anti-Blair post I’d put up; I’m also finding that the eurosceptic crowd are in complete agreement with me on this – because Blair is far more of a threat to the country than Brussels has ever been.

    The “libertarian” right are on board; so are the true left who care for the rights of the many. The majority of small “c” conservative middle England hates Labour anyway, and are only silent on this because they believe the propaganda and have no real idea of what’s going on – it (being patronising here, I know) needs to be explained to them in a way they can understand. True Tories (note, not the same as large “c” Conservatives) are against unnecessary state power on principle.

    What is needed to unite all these disparate strands is the money to spread the message and field the candidates on a single manifesto pledge of repealing all the totalitarian nonsense Labour have introduced and instituting a simple but binding constitution along the American model.

    Germany has proved that a country can survive without a government orchestrating every policy area for a few months – there wouldn’t even need to be a broader range of policies, as it would be impossible to get agreement on economics and the like acros such a broad coalition. Just one issue, with a guarantee of another election within a pre-determined time-period – to ensure that the necessary reforms are passed speedily and the coalition doesn’t have time to fracture.

    It can be done. A new cross-party coalition can be set up bringing in everyone from far-right loons to far-left nutters. But it would, sadly, take more cash than anyone would be willing to part with to achieve it in the limited time we’ve got before Labour secure yet another term and entrenches these God-awful reforms. If it’s not done by the next general election, it will be too late.

    (And yes, yes I am a bit drunk)

  • Ah – Bishop Hill beat me to it – that’ll learn me to wander off for more beer mid-comment…

  • NM; not sure a ‘new’ party is a good plan, too much vested interest. Cross-party links and potentially withdrawn candidates in marginals where it makes a difference would be good and do-able.

    But if we talk of building a new party, then we’ll lose all hope of Tory/LibDem backing, and I don’t see any new party breaking through quick enough.

    Use what’s there to our advantage, and spread the word.

    Unity; any chance of a holding page/coming soon on the front of the domain so we can start builind a links network up? Better for pagernak/google purposes if when we do hit the ground we can do so running.

  • Unity

    I’ll get down to it over the weekend – at this stage the domain registration is going through.