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Fighting anti-politics

Jason Cowley
  • John Denham

Do you believe that we have a moral obligation to vote?

4 Responses to “Fighting anti-politics”

  1. Wyn Jeffery

    You omit to mention that John Denham was a cabinet minister who had the courage and principles to resign over the Iraq War. On the question of engagement in politics, there are interesting lessons to be learnt from the success of Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour leadership contest. These lessons are not about nostalgia or burying one’s head in the sand, but about welcoming the refreshing sight of a politician a who actually seems to believe in something and to speak in normal language.

  2. terence patrick hewett

    Politics is about power and and who shall wield it.

    When mainstream politicians and institutions complain about anti-politics: what they really mean is why aren’t they voting for us? And they are not voting for you because of what you have done

    It would be instructive to compare what has been done in this country to working class communities in the last 50 years, with what was done in South Africa under the Group Areas Act; and to compare the sense of loss and grief displayed by the victims at the trashing of their respective communities.

    Great outrage was displayed in the 1960’s, at the District Six removals in Capetown, South Africa. On 11 February 1966, the South African Government
    declared District Six a whites-only area under the Group Areas Act, with
    removals starting in 1968. By 1982, more than 60,000 people had been relocated
    to the bleak Cape Flats Township some 25 kilometres away. Everything in
    District Six was bulldozed except a couple of churches. The people that were removed suffered incredible cultural and identity loss and were subject to the appalling violence of the Cape Flats criminal gangs.

    The working classes in this country after 1950 saw their families dispersed, their towns and close knit communities destroyed and turned into murderous, vice ridden slums infinitely worse than anything they replaced, a thing that even the Luftwaffe did not achieve. Their family oriented culture came under constant and consistent attack. The abolition of capital and corporal punishment was something they never wanted because they knew what it would mean for them. The schools which offered a way out of poverty were debauched and an anti-learning culture fostered from within them. They were called “chavs” and made to feel that their culture and love of country was inferior and even the traditional recreations of pub smoking with a drink outlawed.

    The responses to both of these events were very different. The one elicited outrage; but protests against the other were regarded with incomprehension
    and contempt. It was as if society regarded the working classes in Britain to be of a lower order that was unable to experience emotion and loss; a brute order of humanity with a debased culture of no value. The enormity of what has been done to British society in the name of social engineering is now beginning to sink in. We get calls to fix our broken society by the very people who broke it in the first place. Like post Apartheid South Africa, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission should be set up, where the enforcers are encouraged to admit that everything they have implemented in the name of social engineering in the last fifty years has been a giant, tragic, cruel, wicked and traumatic social experiment inspired by some very base motives. Those who do not come from these communities do not even begin to understand the depth of the contempt and anger. People justly feel betrayed and marginalised by the very organizations that should have protected them.

    I was born in the East End of London and I saw it happen; it was my aunts, my uncles, my family and my community that was smashed. Like the Jewish poet Emanuel Litvinoff; when I return to the East End all I see are ghosts. I was also in Capetown when the removals from District Six took place; the same rejection and the same betrayal. I am happy to say that I still have good friends there. So I retain the right to make these comments no matter how unwelcome they may be; there is a world of difference between being there and experiencing it, and just reading about it in books.

    The society and communities in Britain that were displaced were not perfect by any means, but in comparison to the violent and dysfunctional chaos that has been brought about by the activities of politicians and their enforcers, it was a heaven of tolerance. That society was no accident; it was brought about after a 100 years of social reform by the Victorians and Edwardians. And our murderous and vice ridden society is no accident either; it was brought about in 50 short years by
    agents of a force bent on our destruction. They have managed to achieve the almost impossible; they have dragged us back into the horrors of the 18th century. Our unwritten constitution worked very well until recently, but it afforded us no protection from an internal enemy, not based on Plato’s Will to Good, but based on Nietzsche’s Will to Power. And God help us, we let it happen. What has been done is wrong in Christian terms, in philosophical terms, in human terms and in terms of self interest.

    Normal human relations are rooted in mutual respect not in the hatreds of domination by intolerance.

  3. davidbfpo

    There are many reasons for what is a profound disconnect between the electorate and our elected politicians. Much of national and international politics has moved away from the nation-state, for the UK that means largely the European Union. Local government has steadily diminished in England as Whitehall-Westminster have centralised more powers. Alternative methods have developed, notably single issue campaigning and of late petitions via social media.

    Long before UKIP’s increase in support and in Scotland the SNP achieving power – the electorate, especially those in England – found ALL elected politicians unresponsive to their views and wishes. Over what? Hanging at one point (opinion has now shifted to being anti). Immigration and truly restricting it. The increasing role of the European Union. Above all I suspect the biggest reason is seeing how ineffective government was in achieving results for them.

    At the national level it is easy to get the view politicians live in their own world, secure in the Palace of Westminster and nearby. Along came the scandals around parliamentary expenses and just a few days ago MPs getting a 10% rise in salary, when many in the public sector were told 1% is for you. Politicians who seem far more comfortable with focus groups, opinion polling and each other. Our electoral system helps to reinforce the status quo.

    David Page, BSc Politics & International Studies 1979 and John’s successor as Union President.

  4. Dr. Andrew Ruddle (1973-76)

    It is ….. curious ? instructive ? that neither writer in
    this piece sees fit to mention that, in polls of trustworthy jobs, politicians
    and journalists are always jostling for last place with estate agents, car
    salesmen and bankers.

    the venality and selfishness demonstrated by the expenses scandals, the brown
    bag payments, the Speaker’s expenses reported today, the freebie trips and
    meals, cronyism and so on have something to do with it ?

    do they mention the lack of engagement in local politics, which can (I suggest)
    be ascribed to the same reasons, plus amateurism and incompetence – at least
    when MPs get their snouts in the trough they do it thoroughly..

    …. and why does anyone think journalists are any better/more intelligent/more honest/more competent than politicians ?