The seismic developments in politics are so interesting. They’re obviously a response to the offence that’s been caused to people’s spiritual intelligence - our sense of justice and fairness. Issues of unfair rewards, corruption, deception, honesty, integrity, etc, are in the end matters that impact on our spiritual sensibilities. We talk about truth, ethics and morals, but these things are subsets of the spiritual.
This has nothing to do with God, however. Atheists can be every bit as ethical, moral and spiritual as religious folk. These things offend against that which is truly human within us. We’re appalled and outraged because we know in our souls and our spirits that something very wrong has taken place.
The question which then arises is what we do about it. What on earth do we do when the people we elect to govern our affairs are themselves responsible for the outrages? Either by commission or omission these people are responsible, and they’re hardly likely to want to change the system that’s been responsible for their advancement, their promotion and their income. They’re hardly likely to want to punish themselves.
We may want to see them all blasted away by the jet of a cleansing hose, but what if they resist? What if they’re determined to stay, and to preserve the status quo?
Admittedly there are hundreds of MPs who are indeed honourable and untouched by the scandal, but what if they too are resistant to changing the system and making politicians more accountable? The proposals for change that are being put forward at this time (see Layer 157 for examples) are sensible and reasonable and radical, but they’re not necessarily going to be adopted by our essentially reactionary politicians.
I don’t see too many MPs admitting that their complacency, idleness and inattention contributed to their colleagues doing what they did. Virtually NONE of them voted against invading Iraq, and even less of them spoke out consistently against the Shock Doctrine, voodoo economics, the behaviour of the bankers and financiers, the Big Brother legislation that’s been passed, or the laxity of the system that allowed and encouraged MPs to scam thousands of pounds from the public purse.
So what do we then do? Is there anything we can do?
Even Alan Duncan, speaking on Today, says, “The current model of political representation is under serious strain”. And “A quiet political revolution of great historical significance is taking place.”
Hilary Benn talked about apologising and making reparations. He said that ‘everybody’ now recognises that the rules on expenses were unacceptable and had to change. He doesn’t seem to see that the failure on the part of people like him to notice these things previously is also what’s making us so angry. It seems obvious now that the rules were too lax. Why wasn’t it obvious before?
The BBC’s political correspondent says there’s a fear in Westminster that the ‘public’ “wants heads”. Last week Diane Abbot had the honesty to admit that a great many people would like to see politicians swinging from lampposts.
The Today presenter made the point that the word ‘revolution’ is being bandied about quite a lot. (Lord) Norman Lamont, bless, said that it’s just a question of “getting Parliament up to date”. Shirley Williams says she agrees there has to be a revolution. Not just “repairing the roof and doing nothing about the building”. Roy Hattersley said that an election should be delayed until this parliament has been given time to react and put its own house in order. But he’s in favour of ‘dramatic change’.
Which brings me to my main point, which is that George Monbiot had a column in the Guardian yesterday with the heading, “As the political consensus collapses, now all dissenters face suppression”.
“The principal cause of man's unhappiness is that he has learnt to stay quietly in his own room. If our needs are not met, if justice is not done, it is because we are not prepared to leave our homes and agitate for change.
“Yet, though the people of this country remain as mild and as peaceful as they have ever been, our MPs have introduced a wider range of repressive measures than at any time since the second world war.
“[Various Acts] treat peaceful protesters as if they are stalkers, vandals, thugs and terrorists. Thousands of harmless, public-spirited people now possess criminal records. This legislation has been enforced by policing which becomes more aggressive and intrusive by the month. The police attacks on the G20 protests (which are about to be challenged by a judicial review launched by Climate Camp) are just the latest expression of this rising state violence. Why is it happening?
“The police appear to be motivated not by party political bias but by hostility towards all views which do not reflect the official consensus.
“Mainstream politics in Britain cannot respond to realities such as global and national inequality, economic collapse, resource depletion and climate change. Any politics that does not endorse the liberal economic consensus, which challenges the concentration of wealth or power, or which doesn't accept that growth and consumerism can be sustained indefinitely, is off-limits. Just as the suffragettes were repressed because their ideas – not their actions – presented a threat to the state, the government and the police must suppress a new set of dangerous truths.
"By treating protesters as domestic extremists, the state marginalises their concerns: if people are extremists, their views must be extreme. Repression, in a nominal democracy, cannot operate accountably, so the state uses police units which are exempt from public scrutiny . . . There is no place for dissenting views in mainstream politics.
“Our grossly unfair electoral system, which responds to the concerns of just a few thousand floating voters and shuts out the minor parties; the vicious crackdown on dissent within parliament by whips and spin doctors; the neoliberalism forced upon governments by corporate power and the Washington consensus; the terror of the tabloid press – all combine to create a political culture which cannot respond to altered realities without collapsing. What cannot be accommodated must be suppressed.
"The police respond as all police forces do; protecting the incasts from the outcasts, keeping the barbarians from the gate. The philosophy of policing has not changed; they just become more violent as the citadel collapses.”
Tales of Our Times
1) Gordon Brown has said on TV that the behaviour of Hazel Blears has been “totally unacceptable”. But she stays in office drawing her fat salary. “Doing a great job as minister of state”, is what she tells the news channels Gordon has said about her, with that ludicrous smug expression on her ludicrous face.
2) A damning report on Parkhurst prison says that the place is so bad that there are disabled prisoners who haven’t had a shower for a year because prison officers who aren’t trained to push wheelchairs are refusing to push them, and also refusing to be trained on pushing wheelchairs.
3) A damning report on the Catholic church and The Christian Brothers hit the news today. So now it’s official. The Catholic church had tried every means possible to cover up and what everybody knows has gone on for 70 years in Ireland, at least - the gross brutalisation of thousands of children who have suffered sexual, physical and emotional abuse at the hands of priests, monks and nuns.
Of course we knew all of this already. We also knew that the church has systematically and relentlessly conspired to deny and cover up what their people have done to those children.
And so another pillar of our society collapses.
First the credibility of the banking and financial system, and the whole concept of ‘globalisation’. Then the credibility of Parliament. And now the credibility of the church. Hopefully people are waking up and realising that the only thing they have left to believe in and trust is themselves.
Watching the reactions of Glaswegians to the resignation of Michael Martin on TV it really struck me how completely New Labour has destroyed itself, and destroyed our party. The Labour Party used to rely on Scotland to send a big bunch of MPs to the London parliament, and after the recent fiascos it’s entirely possible they’re going to be completely wiped out by a combination of the SNP, Lib Dems and Independents.
Something similar will happen in England and Wales. I think there could be shedloads of Independent MPs elected all over the place, if decent people come forward as an alternative to the established parties.