Late August Musings

Trasformismo. This term was used from the 1880s [in Italy] onwards to describe the process whereby the so-called “historic” Left and Right parties…tended to converge in terms of programme during the years that followed, until there ceased to be any substantive difference between them….The two main parties disintegrated into personal cliques and factions, which characterised Italian parliamentary life until fascism. (Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Newell Smith, eds., Selections from the Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci, Lawrence and Wishart, 1986, p.58, Note 8.)

September 2007: the moment Labour REALLY lost the last General Election?

There have always been defections from the three main parties to one another, but in the last few years the process seems to have accelerated, particularly with the the concept of Government Of All Talents (GOATS) becoming increasingly vogueish. The idea of unelected  business people holding public office has also become extremely popular.  What few ask is why should individuals who run top-down organisations, which if  they were political entities would be effectively fascist in orientation, have anything positive to offer the country’s political life?

Anyhow, it seems several big cheeses amongst the ultra-Blairite firmament have got jobs with the Coalition Government. However, you do wonder what talents some of them have got. John Hutton, aka Baron Hutton of Furness, has been given the job of heading a commission on public sector pensions (which,  a lot of people don’t realise, are subject to income tax), which somehow I do not think will lead to a lot of ex-MPs being forced to sell the Big Issue. Meanwhile, ultra-Blairista and erstwhile News of the World columnist (aka a Murdoch Monkey) Alan Milburn has got the job of making Britain a more socially mobile society.

Some people are not impressed. Matthew Norman comments:

The Government’s hiring of Alan Milburn as its “social mobility tsar” provides the most seismic event of its kind for a very long time … possibly as long ago as the appointment of puritan £5m birthday-party man Philip Green as our anti-profligate spending tsar.

Promoted to the Cabinet in the misapprehension that he is the grandson of Jackie Milburn, whom Mr Tony Blair saw at St James’s Park while a foetus, Wor Alan is an inspired choice.

Although there was no more vigorous defender of the New Labour policies that produced the most dramatic reversal of social mobility for decades, his own life beautifully illuminates the escape route from childhood poverty. Become a Trot, jettison everything you once professed to believe when it becomes expedient, ingratiate yourself with power, fight for policies such as university top-up fees that might have prevented the young Alan escaping his own working-class roots, and flounce out of government to make some dough when the going gets sticky. Do all this, and you too might one day pick up an annual £30,000 for spending a few days as “an adviser” to private healthcare firms and the global warrior for social justice that is Pepsi-Cola.

I bet he didn’t point out this bit of his CV to Call Me Dave…

Someone else not impressed by Mr M. (a graduate of my alma mater Lancaster University…changing the subject, did I tell you Andy Serkis studied there?) is Chris Lilly, whose letter in Friday’s Guardian referred to our new Social Mobility Tsar/Czar’s (BTW why is everyone in public life designated a Czar/Tsar these days? A lot more seem to be wannabe Rasputins to me) ‘Haze of Dope’ days:

Thirty years ago this month, I sat in Days of Hope bookshop in Newcastle, being lectured by super-Trot Alan Milburn on deviations from correct Socialist thought. Now he’s a Tory adviser (Letters, 19 August). He was a pillock then, he’s a pillock now. A Tory pillock.

As for Philip Green, he hardly seems a defender of free speech of those who do not think he is wonderful. Those of you who worry about the future of free speech in Aistrip One  may find this and this of interest. Moreover, I do not think Wikileaks would last five minutes if it was based in the UK. Those of you interested in the links between Big Business and Big State in the US when it comes to watching what the public gets up to may want to look at Glenn Greenwald’s investigation here.

Considering there are 50,000 US military personnel still in the country, I cannot see how the much trumpeted US ‘withdrawal’ from Iraq is a ‘withdrawal’.  It is not like the total Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989 is it? It is almost as ridiculous as when the US, with 150,000 troops in Iraq (plus tens of thousands of private contractors/mercenaries), said it would not tolerate foreign interference in Iraq’s internal affairs. Some will describe it as a ‘victory’ (but didn’t Dubya achieve that with his ‘Mission Accomplished’ stunt over seven years ago? BTW is Call Me Dave the New Dubya?) but it cannot be much of a US victory when non-US oil companies are getting allocated the bulk of Iraq’s oil fields.

However, the US has only so much power to interfere in Iraq’s internal affairs this side of bringing back the draft.  The spectre of imperial overstretch haunts the Obama Administration. Furthermore, the cost of the wars (and bailing the financial system out)  is starting to undermine the fabric of American social life at home.

With things falling apart, it is good to see the US political and media classes keeping calm by getting themselves worked up about the building of a Muslim Cultural Centre near to New York’s Ground Zero. Not that I want to live under a religious theocracy, or the US to become one for that matter (although what difference does living under a Muslim or a Christian Theocracy make if under either of them democracy, civil liberties and individual freedoms go down the plug hole?). However, when the economy seems to be heading for a double dip recession, unemployment is rising, Wall Street is is making a killing at the expense of the rest of the country, public services are collapsing, the country is at war and civil liberties are under threat, why get so worked up about a single building? It would be good just to laugh at the whole farce, but the people campaigning against the Cultural Centre do not seem to be people with a funny bone.

And such issues really bring the rabble rousers out…

On yet another issue, Ron Paul (the Anti-Palin of America’s Right) talks a lot of sense , but it is Ross Kenyon who puts it all in perspective:

Politicians are driving another incredibly boring wedge between people to distract them from the major issues. The longer we talk about whether Muslims have basic individual property rights, as well as whether queer people can marry each other in the context of Prop 8, the more we think of each other as members of groups instead of as individuals, and the less time there is to talk about the state’s murder of people abroad and its criminal mercantilist manipulations of the economy and intrusions into our personal lives.

Argh, it’s all enough to drive a man to drink, if there was any in the fridge (especially as it is so humid at the moment!). Consequently, to keep my sanity I am going to finish this meandering post with some positive stuff instead.

‘The Left should be the custodians of democracy.’

First,  it was a shame Jimmy Reid died. If the British Left was led by people of substance and character like him, rather than by chancers like George Galloway and the Sawdust Caesars of the SWP, it might get somewhere. His celebrated speech at the University of Glasgow can be found here.

Now for some plugs.

My friend and near neighbour Charles Shaar Murray has a new website here.

My friend and all around Renaissance Woman Sara Bynoe is interviewed (if that is not too strong a word) with musical interludes here.

My friend and former work colleague Mike Edwards has a film website, Movie Vortex, here.

I’ll leave it there for the moment. Roll on September…

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Good day! Thanks for sharing. I will bookmark your website.


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