Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Top Down

Dear Elites

You got us into this bloody mess. Now fix it.

It was you, the comfortably wealthy, the private-school educated, the home-owners with the Volvo for the weekend cottage, the beneficiaries of Westminster's obsession with The City and finance. You who supported the neoliberal politics that first Margaret Thatcher and then all of the main political parties espoused. You who decided that 'immigration' was suddenly a big enough issue to vote Leave. You, who read the Daily Mail or the Telegraph,  who watched the hypnosis of Sky, your news intake controlled by Nondoms and aristocrats. You, whose brothers across the pond voted for the right-wing hawk who will Trump us all.

And now you can't step back from your cliff-edge. You have created a monster that is bigger than all of us, the fear-monster of foreigners at the picket-gate. So you add to your neoliberal austerity a regime of migrant control and visas. Government cuts, and, by the way, no visas for the Polish plumber or the French lorry driver or the Catalan software engineer, so your economy is under a double yoke with no real government spending, and no way for businesses to expand and grow.

I'm talking to you, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. And all your cronies in the UKIP-Tories.

But hang on, old chap. 

I too went to a private school. I own two cars. I live in a nice house in the country. I have a (fairly) regular wage, food on the table, a comfortable job. I use social media owned by tax-dodging multinationals (yes, this blog is on a site owned by Google...) I, in an earlier life, voted for Tony Blair thinking that he could bring fairness to Britain.

I am part of the elite. I am part of the problem.

I, we, made the mess we are in. All of us in the comfortable classes, the blog-reading classes, the 'Just About Managing' JAMS...we got it wrong. We did not stand up and shout when we were favoured with lower taxes, even though we knew, if we had given the maths a moment's thought, that less tax meant less help for the poor. We did not protest loud enough, or in big enough numbers, when Westminster took us into its stupid wars in Libya and the Levant. We thought it broadly OK that the government of the day should privatise services previously thought essential - rail, water, telecoms, health, transport.

We have built the monster that is neoliberal, racist, Brexit Britain. We must slay it.

How? By changing us, first. By recognising that people in poverty are more important than a penny off income tax. By realising that our private schools are the nurseries of a permanent elite, and thus that we must close them or convert them into truly 'public' schools. By not buying that extra bottle of chilled Prosecco and giving the money to a foodbank instead. By reading more, and more widely, than the madness of the Daily Mail or the bias of the BBC.

And then by changing  our government. Scotland has shown that it can be done, kicking out the Red and Redder Tories and replacing them with politicians who don't get it all right all of the time, but at least move the ship of the Scottish state in the right direction.

Changing the government of England is very hard to imagine in our lifetime. And while that government is led by the elites of England it is not going to let the rabble of Scotland build the society that the people of Scotland want.

Dear elites, there are two clear conclusions. The elites of Scotland - me, you - must stand alongside the poor and fight for a socially just, international, welcoming Scotland. We must stand up for an independent Scotland, free to build the society its people want. A society built by all, for all - not just for us in the elite.

The elites of England will have to decide for themselves whether they want more Prosecco or less poverty. I hope, for their sake, that they wake up and vote for the latter.

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