Some of the anti-politics meme – even in the week of Maria Miller – is really disastrous. The Daily Telegraph’s expenses expose was both brilliant and terrible as it merged a godawful schadenfreude with a commercial glint in the eye. The shitstream that is Order Order is far-right libertarianism dressed up as whistle-blowing. Bloggers can get huge traffic from this approach, but it’s a click away from tabloidese and a leap away from true citizen journalism. These people have nothing to contribute to the word other than their bile. I don’t really believe that people get involved in party politics and stand as MPs or MSPs out of some sort of avaricious venal zeal.
This isn’t an argument for soft-soaping the truth about what’s going on. It’s an argument for doing that and having some strategy for responding to that reality. Otherwise it’s just a form of political nihilism with no real destination. Having said that with the tumbling exposes of Westminster culture and the Cyril Smith stories now emerging, it’s difficult not to succumb to a deep dark cynicism.
It’s all around as the lack of real alternatives in English politics is palpable. UK politics is trapped in a sense of its own helplessness. Nick Cohen this week writes: “No one who sniffs the air can fail to notice that London in the Osborne bubble has a whiff of Weimar Germany”.
And Marina Hyde focused on the Channel 4 research into the cultures of Westminster, concluding (‘Welcome to Westminster: where lecherous shysters get pissed at our expense’):
In the end, the overwhelming sense of Westminster the public now has is one of entitlement, so it’s no surprise to find that it is sexual as well as financial. If the mother of parliaments’ denizens truly wish to address that – and to be honest, you can hardly detect a meaningful appetite for change – then many MPs might consider taking a tour themselves in one of their lengthy parliamentary recesses. (I think they’re about to break up for summer.)
You can view C4’s sadly un-shocking film here in which 33% of those interviewed reported they had experienced some kind of sexual harrassment.
As Marina writes: “Like all dysfunctional institutions, from boarding schools to prisons, Westminster appears to have normalised codes of behaviour that elsewhere would mark their practitioners as weirdos.”
This is what the Americans call “disconnect”.
It’s not difficult – as our Hannah Wallace does here (‘Independent Women‘) – to make some pretty basic distinctions between Holyrood and Westminster.
The problem with the Black World of Anti-Politics is that it creates a new dysfunctional institution, that of the internet dystopian, or the clicktivist, sure about everything but unable or unwilling to DO anything.
As Will Hutton points out via an *expert* (in case you’d maybe thought it was) ‘Capitalism simply isn’t working’.
But what’s this got to do with Scotland?
We have a task of engaging in massive democratic renewal at a time of deep political skepticism. We need to use that scepticism as leverage for hope about new institutions and structures. There’s a real challenge there for indy bloggers walking a fine line.
In discussion with Mr Peat Worrier on Radio Scotland this week Severin Carrell suggested that Labour hadn’t really got started on its referendum campaign, and, they were (presumably) about to (?). This prospect seems dimmer by the second as we consider who’s on the bench, limbering up (‘Scraping the Barrell’):
The week before Robertson made his speech, it was revealed that the Better Together campaign is now asking Labour’s so-called “legends” at Westminster to lend a hand. The Unionists were responding to the latest set of opinion polls which suggest that the Nationalists require a swing of a mere handful of points to achieve independence. Thus we can expect to hear more from George Foulkes, Jack McConnell and John Reid between now and September. Once, these three and Robertson were Labour machine politicians in Scotland. Now, in the House of Lords, these ermined four are known as Baron Robertson of Port Ellen, Baron Foulkes of Cumnock, Baron McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Baron Reid of Cardowan.
Cumnock and Cardowan are mining areas utterly ravaged by everything that a rabidly rightwing British state could throw at them during the miners’ strike of 1984. Is it not a little disrespectful to the memory of what these villages once were to use their names as a calling card for the establishment that killed them off? If Barons Robertson, Foulkes, McConnell and Reid are the answer, then the Better Together campaign is indeed truly struggling.
Now presumably Messrs Foulkes, McConnell and Reid (‘Team Red Lord?’) are about to swing in to action, bringing an ermine twist to 21C Blue Labour Socialism.
Maybe it will work? Maybe people are so stupefied, half-addled and done-down to believe this shit. I really don’t think so. Take our friend Ryan McGeee in the photo above from Hawick. Ignore the grim fantastically sophisticated but utterly removed Roch crowd, with such utterly beautiful infantile ideological displays of impotence (‘a prefatory note’ – Pseuds Corner?)
But maybe there’s an alternative just around the corner? Maybe Red Ed’s for real? “I see this as a watershed for the Labour party … certainly the most important moment since I [became] a member in 1970”.
As the Guardian reports, the Unite general secretary said that Miliband’s fortunes would also have a direct impact on the Scottish referendum. If Labour outlined a clear alternative to the Tories and was ahead in the polls when Scotland votes in September, the no campaign would be in a strong position, he said, adding: “If that is not the case, I think that will have a big impact in Scotland.”
This is quite true and Len McCluskey’s warning over Labour’s austerity crisis has little hope for Johann and her comrades in the Lords.
For the slightly desperate folks who’ve been running with the idea that art and politics can’t mix (“indy luvvies”) stuff we think a good portion of Dundee disagrees, as the Ibrox showed yesterday.
This energy is defeating dark cynicism over and over.