Archives for category: Uncategorized

Get your fighting pants on. This is it.

In seven weeks the UK will vote for its next Government. In 2015 there was almost nothing to choose between the  three “main” parties. None of them offered anything exciting. Well, maybe in hindsight the EU ref promise was interesting to a few people…

Things are very different now.

I’m going to dig in to the promises and statements made by the parties in their campaigns, because two are still waging an economic war against you, but one, now, is actually fighting for you.

Yeah, they will all say they’re fighting for “hard-working Britain”. Trouble is they’ll say that while finding ways to take your economic power away and redistribute it to the people who already hold an insanely disproportionate amount of wealth, income and power. Well, The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats will. But not Labour. Not this time.

Yes, in the past, under Blair and Brown they were as guilty as the others of these economic war crimes. They helped plant economic time bombs in the services you rely on – the NHS, schools, libraries, social services. Privatising them and loading them up with absurd PFI debts was direct economic warfare – nothing else. You and me, collectively, we used to own these assets and use them daily. Not now. B&B literally gave them away and at the same time used them as a way to siphon future wealth out of our collective pockets and into the grotesque sweaty palms of the bankster elite. Because over the period of these PFI deals we will pay at least 7 times more than the cost of building the new buildings and providing the services would have if we did it ourselves, and not only that, at the end of these deals we don’t own the bricks-and-mortar assets. Nope. The contractor does. How was this even allowed???

So here is the first example of the real difference between the Cons and Labour.

Cons will continue to destroy the nation’s collective assets and the services we have collectively built, paid for and provided. Billions of NHS budget will be handed to tax dodging carpet baggers under their rule. Costs will rise. Staffing levels will fall. Your NHS will provide less and less of the care you need. They’ve already been doing this since 2010, and in the last couple of years the results have started to show.

Labour will first end and then reverse this economic war crime. The sale of your NHS will be halted. PFI contracts cancelled. Services will be brought back into public hands. Costs will fall. Staffing levels will increase. Collectively we become wealthier.

84% of people asked thought the NHS should be publicly run, not for private profit.

Are you one of these 84% of UK public? Then who are you going to vote for?

For all intents and purposes, this is where the economic war is fought. All soft wars are wars of information, misinformation, and disinformation. They aim to control thought formation. And fuck me it’s effective.

If your thoughts are shaped for you before you’ve had them, your actions are not your own.

This should scare the bejeezus out of you, because you already know most of your actions aren’t your own, don’t you? You keep spending that money you need to save, putting off that task, smoking those fags, drinking that beer, watching that shit on TV, playing those ridiculous games. And nothing gets better.

We all do it. To some extent, our actions keep us locked into the economic system that funnels our energy, resources, wealth and time away from what we want to achieve and instead to those who already have more than they can ever use.

Don’t beat yourself up. It isn’t your fault.

This war has been fought for a very long time, and very few of us realise it’s happening. That’s all because of the media. The messages conveyed through images, TV, newspapers, magazines and music are powerful and they’ve been weaponised.

Look at the treatment of Jeremy Corbyn. He’s a terrorist sympathiser, but our own Government  is a noble defender of democracy despite aiding, funding and training actual terrorists in Syria. (It’s OK though, these are “moderate rebels” acting to depose an elected head of state through armed insurrection. The millions who’s lives have been destroyed? acceptable collateral losses.) He’s a threat to our financial security with dangerous notions of reducing inequality and redressing the imbalances in our economy, while our Government is keeping us secure by imposing measures that directly impoverish most of us and transfer that wealth to those already at the upper echelons of income and wealth distribution. More and more are pushed toward poverty while the safety net is being withdrawn.

It doesn’t have to be like this though. “Media” isn’t just something that authorities produce and we consume. Any of us can create our own message. Our own commentary. Our own thoughts. Our own images. And now we have the ability to share this instantly with anyone. For a brief period we have the power to reclaim the narrative and occupy the media. This will be curtailed, probably soon. Because this is power.

It might seem silly, childish and purile, but in 2009 I saw how powerful a tool we have in the social media platforms available to us. In 2009 we took back the music charts from Simon Cowell. I know, you’re laughing because it’s so unimportant right?, but a completely organic campaign beat the entire corporate machine and odds of 500-1 to put an old, niche rap/metal single at no1 in the UK pop music charts for Christmas.

So what you ask? Fast forward to sept 2015.

Despite overwhelmingly negative media coverage, public speeches by some of (previously) the most influential people in UK public life, and dire warnings of eternal doom, Jeremy Corbyn was elected the leader of the Labour Party with the biggest vote share ever by any leader of any party in the UK.

Plenty of others have analysed and commented. I just want to highlight one thing: A completely organic campaign sprang up around him. Social media was utilised by ordinary people who for the first time in decades had a chance to have a person in a position of power who represented their voice. They took it upon themselves to spread the message. They even organised their own telephone banks and canvassing teams. They beat odds of 100-1. #JezWeCan became #JezWeDid

The establishment don’t like it. Even those media outlets and commentators you thought were on your side are attacking him, exposing their real agenda and actually, more frighteningly for them, their irrelevance and lack of power to influence.

It’s becoming clear how powerful we are when we act in unison behind a shared idea. We can create our own narrative, our own message, our own vision, our own reality.

The stakes are high – this might be the last chance for a long time to give the world the alternative Thatcher thought she’d killed with the lie of TINA.

The extreme actions of the current Government could easily be their own undoing. A case in point: BBC TV’s Question Time, Thurs 15 Oct 2015. Audience member Michelle Dorrell could not contain her rage when Tory MP Amber Rudd once more espoused the disingenuous party line that they are building a strong economy that will help everyone. Michelle voted for them, and she’s about to suffer significant financial loss because the party is going to break a solemn promise they made before the election not to cut Tax Credits. She chastised them and called out their lie, and it will have resonated with many watching.

Here’s an interview with her, follwed by 2 clips I urge you to watch: Click here to watch the BBC clips

This could be such an important moment in the war for the media. A moment of unspun truth. A heartfelt exposition of the reality of the economic war. But some are still unconsciously fighting for those powerful wealthy elites. “Stupid Tory voter put them in power. She deserves all she gets” was a common comment. Unbelievable. Chunky Mark said it as well as any other:

Chunky Mark, The Artist Taxi Driver is an example of my point here. It doesn’t matter what you think about him. He’s doing it. He’s making media that puts his alternative view out there. He’s made his own documentaries and interview series. He even does political watercolours. 1,000s of others are doing it too. Now you’ve seen how skewed and controlled the media is, and you’ve seen how much power we can have if we speak our truth and voice our vision, what are you going to do?

The fight is on. Your duty calls.
With Art and Media as our weapons we can kill our televisions. We can create the reality.

So there’s an election tomorrow. 90% of voters (who vote) are going to place their X next to a party candidate, hoping their lives will improve. Or at least be made less shit than they would have been if someone else got in. 10% who vote postally already have. There’s wall to wall coverage, wall to wall analysis, wall to wall comment. Policies are announced, picked apart, borrowed and stolen.

But have you noticed?

At first glance there seems to be important, essential topics being discussed and decided. It seems like there’s a choice to be made. Your Vote Counts.

Then, on the second look, it starts to become apparent: For all the “main” parties are announcing policies and positioning themselves, very little of substance is being said.
In fact the parties themselves knew all this campaigning would achieve nothing – Cameron conceded to Clegg that the Tories would not win a majority of the seats before the last parliament was dissolved.
No one is selling a coherent, cohesive vision of a future that people want to vote for. The deceit and corruption of parliamentarians that has been exposed since the 2009 expenses scandal, through brazenly broken pledges not to vote to increase tuition fees or increase VAT, to the appalling cover-up of industrial scale child sexual abuse by MPs and their powerful friends and the shocking revelations of establishment involvement in inciting violence during the Miner’s strikes of the 80’s to justify crushing unions under Plod’s boots and draconian laws have left many utterly un-engaged with the main parties. Combined with the almost identical “austerity” strategies of Lab and Con, it’s unsurprising that most people of voting age will not vote for either of the parties that hope to govern.

Look again. A 3rd time. But look more closely. What is actually being offered by the main parties? As far as I can see, it’s a harder version of the same soft Economic War that has been waged upon most of us relentlessly since the late 70’s. There will be more, deeper cuts. We will be “tough on welfare”, “tough on imigration”. People will suffer and some will die as aresult of these policies, but the problem won’t be solved.
We know the richest in this country have doubled their wealth in the same period most of us have suffered austerity, wage cuts, job losses, inflation, sanctions. Our national assets have been sold at knock-down prices to the highest donor. This is the result of deliberate policies. Do you think it’s a accident?

This is something that has directly affected most of us. So where’s the discussion about this? As inequality and poverty blossomed over the past few years I predicted there would be a ramping up of the old soft war techniques of diverting the blame to immigrants (tick), the sick and disabled (tick), the poor (tick). We’ve had false flag “terror” attacks and the drum beats of business for the war machine are booming louder across the globe. The tone of coverage these issues have had in the past couple of years has been disgusting. We’ve given birth to Katie Hopkins and the monetisation of racism, bigotry and hatred. And it’s depressingly effective. Those whose wealth, assets and futures are being strip-mined by the wealthiest and most powerful have on the whole lapped up this bile being spewed  on them from all directions. Ask people now why we had a recession and they’re likely to say “Labour overspent”, then blame migrant labour for the lack of affordable housing or low wages. No mention of Banks destroying themselves, holding us to ransom and being bailed out by us, with money borrowed from them. This is classic soft war – a war of deception. We’ve got to fight back against it. Right now most people are fighting on behalf of their wealthy oppressors. It’s perverse.

“Minor” parties are starting to put forward something of a more positive vision – a stance against austerity, talk of re-nationalising utilities, transport, taking steps to address the most egregious aspects of inequality.  As a result they are experiencing a surge in popularity, particularly amongst the younger voters, and that has to be a cause for hope.

But you have to look to the fringes to find visions of real change. Russell Brand has popularised some of these, The Artist Taxi Driver has produced interviews and performance art pieces discussing them, but people on the whole haven’t yet seen the possibilities for alternatives. The Robin Hood Tax, Positive Money, The Citizen’s Income campaign, the Ubuntu movement in South Africa, the Money-free Party – there’s all sorts of alternative visions out there.

This battle has been lost, and we’ll pay for the defeat in the years to come, but the war is far from over. The first step in fighting back: Don’t let them lower your horizons and limit your vision.

I haven’t written in a while. There’s been a lot of reasons. But this article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-24553611 has reignited my indignation. We all know it, because whether you’re in work or looking for work the wages the vast majority of us are being offered are worth less and less month-on-month, year-on-year. This has been going on for a decade, but the decline in the value of our wages has accelerated quite palpably since 2008 and the Great Bankster Robbery of bail-outs and forced austerity.

There are three key points that must remain in our minds, precisely because they are being glossed over and our attention diverted by the majority of mainstream media – that means awareness of them is a fundamental aspect of the Economic War waged against us. Remember soft war is one fought through control and corruption of information, aimed at transforming the fundamental cultural values and identities of a society. Two quotes from Thatcher sum this up to me : “Economics are the method; the object is to change the heart and soul” (see http://www.margaretthatcher.org/speeches/displaydocument.asp?docid=104475), and the famous “There is no alternative”. The first quote chills me to the bone when I look at the world created by the adherents to anti-human Washington Consensus policies that she fought for. The second has been such a powerful psychological weapon against ideas of better socio-economic models. It is also plainly wrong – there are always a myriad of alternatives in any choice or system, even if you wanted to keep a capitalist model it doesn’t have to be the corrupt crony-capitalist (some say bordering on fascist according to Mussolini’s definition) system we have today.

Key point 1: The Bankers caused the crash, the economic crash caused the huge deficits that have been the excuse for needless and recession-prolonging “austerity” – but Bankers and CEOs haven’t suffered AT ALL.

Key Point 2: Inequality is rising rapidly – and it is very highly skewed to the benefit of the highest-earning and wealthiest 1% (and when you break their incomes down you see the same distribution pattern, with the richest 0.1% far out-earning the other top 0.9%). We are very close to Victorian levels. If you’ve read any Dickens (I did under sufferance at school) that should scare the bejesus out of you.

Key Point 3: There is more than enough money, resources, food for all of us – Sitting in the off-shore tax-haven accounts of the wealthiest US citizens is more than 7 times the amount needed to eradicate all poverty across the globe. Mass poverty is a deliberate policy of these ultra-rich. They could end it with a one-off 15% tax and allowing restructuring of economies and the laws which regulate them.

The cumulative effect of the policies driven by the ultra-rich through funding and influence of politicians has been a rapid degrading of the value of our work, a rapid degrading of the rights we have as employees, and a rapid solidification of class divides. Social mobility is lower in the UK than most other developed countries – documented by the OECD in 2012 and this year. What does this mean for you and me? NO WAY OUT. Whatever lies the three main political parties will tell you, working hard is no guarantee of success. The system is designed to prevent it, and the ultra-rich are fighting hard to keep you down.

It’s time for the alternative.

It’s time to fight back.

In the last couple of weeks I’ve watched the media pump out horrifying statistics about the increase in poverty, begin to discuss the reality that the decisions and actions of the current Government are directly causing this tragic destruction of people’s lives, and without skipping a beat triumphantly declare that the economy is fixed and actually this Government is presiding over the biggest reduction in inequality for a generation or more.

Not even the slightest hint of cognitive dissonance from them. Utterly gob-smacking.

I’ve already outlined what a “soft war” is and how important the media is in the battle to keep power, privilege, money and resources firmly under the control of a self-serving elite and as far out of your grasp as possible. This isn’t a new theory. For me it just started out as a slow recognition of the reality I was living in, but when I saw what I was observing happening today being described in the Labour Party election manifesto from 1945 I was both encouraged and disheartened at once. Beveridge et al observed this about the state of the country after WW1:

“The great inter-war slumps were not acts of God or of blind forces. They were the sure and certain result of the concentration of too much economic power in the hands of too few men. These men had only learned how to act in the interest of their own bureaucratically-run private monopolies which may be likened to totalitarian oligarchies within our democratic State. They had and they felt no responsibility to the nation.”  http://www.labour-party.org.uk/manifestos/1945/1945-labour-manifesto.shtml

I didn’t study History, even at GCSE. We did “Integrated Humanities” which consisted of Dinosaurs, Romans, the trenches and (in my opinion) awful poetry of WW1. I concluded it was irrelevant. How much do I regret that now? Christ, we’ve learnt nothing from our past at all. The “hard-faced men” who the real Labour party identified as deliberately impoverishing the masses and who profit from war, who control Governments, industries, information and jobs weren’t beaten in 1945. They were just waiting in the wings until those events were far enough in the past that we would fall for the same con tricks.

And we have.

Despite what everyone in this country knows, that the clearly criminal Banking elite fixed market after market, from LIBOR to Gold, Oil, food, currencies, laundered billions upon billions of dollars of drug lords’ profits, and ultimately destroyed their own institutions in the pursuit of profit and control, it is us who are paying the price of their crimes and failures. They’ve kept the jobs they failed at, while we have to sell our hospitals, schools, libraries, our dreams and our futures to keep up the welfare payments our Governments have promised them. The same Governments we elect to to represent us.

Well, the predicted results of these decisions are starting to manifest. They are devastating. In the first 3 months of this year over 150,000 households were referred to foodbanks so they wouldn’t starve. Government Minister’s response: the food banks are creating a supply by simply existing. They offer a free commodity, so the demand will be endless.

In the words of The Artist Taxi Driver: You WHAT?

To get food from a foodbank you have to be referred from a professional in health, social care, from DWP. It isn’t a free-for-all. They’re trying to paint this as a lifestyle choice, inferring that only scroungers use foodbanks, that its the fault of the people using them and the people providing them. Anger and disgust are the only human reactions possible to this soft war tactic of deception.

Then you consider that the biggest foodbank provider, the Trussell Tust, is run by venture capitalists and ex-financial market traders with links to both New Lab and Tory parties who pride themselves as being at the forefront of “reforms”  to UK welfare system, and you realise there’s a far bigger, far more disturbing strategy in play here. This is far more sophisticated than those inter-war machinations Labour highlighted, and now Labour are part of the economic war against you. These foodbank providers are part of a network profiteering from the reforms they are lobbying government for.

“Reform” seems to just mean “giving your money, your services, your power, your future to our rich friends while you watch X-factor”

Plenty of people are speaking up about this, from the Church to Amnesty International. But somehow it never gets more than a fleeting mention in the media. But you know what was given big coverage? a deceptive ONS report about income inequality.

This report split the population into five groups, from the lowest-earning 20% to the highest-earning 20%, and compared their incomes to that of recent years, factoring in taxes and benefits. With these figures there does seem to be a leveling off. So that’s good, right? Hang on, let’s think about this.

Income is not distributed evenly across large chunks of the population. We know the top-earning 1% of the population far out-earn the other 99%, and in fact the top 0.1% far out-earn the other 99.9%. So adding this small number of very high earners into a much larger group of much lower earners hides their disproportionate income.

Is this important? You betcha! These very highest-earners are the people in the highest positions. They are the ones making the decisions that affect our lives – the “hard-faced men” who really govern, regardless of who we elect. They are nearly all men, too. Of the highest earning 0.1% of the UK population, 9 out of 10 are male. This report doesn’t make any mention of unearned income. Or off-shored income. How many media outlets discussed these shortcomings of this report, or the implications? If we base our decisions on such flawed data and analysis we will only compound the problems our world faces.

What this tells us is there isn’t really 5 groups going by income. There are two: Those very select few with far more than they need, and everyone else fighting over their crumbs. Its the second group that is becoming less unequal as we are all made poorer, while the richest 0.1% are INCREASING their share of national income.

It might seem overly crude to lump people earning £10,000 £30,000 and even £100,000 together, but compared to the £500,000  to multiple MILLIONS that the top earners are grabbing every year, and combined with the huge accumulated wealth these high-earners already have everyone else has this same thing in common: Us little guys have no power, and we have no hope of gaining power under the present system. The super-rich are the ones who own the industries, the media, the MPs and Peers. If you need £250,000 to get a personal dinner with our PM to push “reforms” you can benefit from, and you earn £30,000 or even £50,000 what hope have you got? If you donate £1,000 to a party, and someone else donates £1,000,000 – well, how much clout do you think you’ll have? Who’s company will get the lucrative £Billion contract? Who will be selected to run for parliament? That’s how the system sustains itself.

This also tells us something about that richest 0.1% – they know you know. They know inequality is becoming so extreme we are waking up to it – predictions put us back to Victorian levels of inequality in just a few years time. They know that their money-and-power grab depends on our unconscious compliance. As soon as we fully wake up to it their game is over. So they’re trying to hide it, to con you.  Expect even stronger efforts to deceive and distract. Expect more scapegoating of immigrants, unemployed people, poor people, disabled people. Expect a rise in Nationalism. Considering the recent revelations about police and security service agents infiltrating, organising and even provoking violence within protest groups and even IRA and Al Qaeda, maybe some politically convenient tragedy might be on the cards.

This IS a war.

They ARE fighting dirty.

How far will they go? Remember Iraq. They have no boundaries.

However, more voices are joining the chorus of discontents. New political movements are starting to sprout. Alternative economic and social models are finding new audiences.

I saw Max Keiser describe these “Hard faced men” as vampires – hiding in the darkness, drinking our blood. Why do they hide in the darkness? because under the harsh light of day they crumble to ash. At first I thought he was being daft. Banksters might be many things, but they aren’t supernatural un-dead hunters. That’s ridiculous. But he was right. When their actions are brought under the spotlight, when the public see what they are doing, these “masters of the universe” who are fed through the destruction of our essential services, through our work, through our poverty, they crumble to nothing. Knighthoods are revoked. Bonuses reclaimed. Jail time is served. I don’t know what systems will replace the economic war machine, but I do know that the more we become aware of it the quicker it will die, and the quicker we can begin to build our new world.

So spread the word: We’re in a war. A secret, hidden soft war. One we didn’t start. One we have to win.

People are already dying.

Monday 15th April 2013.

Today I cried twice. And that was before I heard about the bombing of the Boston Marathon.

Today crystallised the whole Economic War that I am seeing waged all around me. It contained every aspect, from the hidden maneuvers, through the disinformation and psy-ops, to the fightback and rebellion. I’m going to recount the events. You can make up your own mind as to whether I’ve lost the plot or just joined the dots to form an accurate picture of a rich, powerful elite holding a gun to my head and taking every last penny I have while trying to blame the undeserving poor bastard they mugged before me.

Event number 1. Someone shared a Mirror article describing an effective tax cut of £2bn on banks over last 2 years. The same story appears in newspapers and sites globally, even on the Gulf Times website. Although this originates from the opposition Labour party, who have fought the same war against you and me for the same people in the recent past, the numbers do stack up. The New Statesman article shows the working out.

Event number 2. I watched a little of ITV news at lunchtime. I wouldn’t normally watch it, ITV I mean, but I was at work and going along with my colleague. They ran a story about today being the first day of a roll-out of the “Benefit Cap” in London, with the rest of the UK to follow. A lot of people not currently in receipt of benefits and too short-sighted and brainwashed to realise they are one corporate take-over, receivership, cost-cutting excercise, illness, accident, efficiency drive away from needing more benefits than the cap allows thought this was a fantastic idea.

Event number 3. Twitted gave me a copy of an article about the Government’s decision to accept the Low Pay Commission’s advice to increase the National Minimum Wage by 12p per hour for adults over 21. This is a rise of 1.9% . But here’s the thing: Inflation (as selectively measured) is around 2.9/3%, but some economists point out that actually inflation is at least double UK govt estimates since 2007. This means we are seeing a real terms cut to national minimum wage of around 4% this year.

This is where I cried the first time. You see, my brain doesn’t work like most people around me. These are 3 separate news stories, about three separate things. Most people just take them as they find them. My brain joins them up. That’s when I see the picture of the rich robbing bastard and the poor sod he’s just mugged. I’m sure you’ve done this already, but for completeness I’m going to join them all up for you now.

Today we have seen the start of benefit cuts in the UK. This has been touted as “Making work pay” by the Govt and their cheerleaders (This is the part that shows the “soft war” tactics of disinformation and deceit). But it isn’t. How does cutting benefits make work pay? What a bizarre claim. The lowest paid workers are now going to see a real terms pay cut of around 4%. The CBI wanted them to have a pay freeze even though worker productivity, efficiency, corporate profits and CEO pay are all rising . Many of these workers will be receiving benefits, because the minimum wage is not enough to live on and cutting benefits won’t improve this. No matter how much is saved by these welfare “reforms” the sums will be dwarfed by the gigantic £2bn effective tax break for Banks – the very institutions that caused the financial meltdown, and the cost of bailing them out is causing our deficit. A very clear, direct transfer of wealth from a poor majority to a rich minority, that exacerbates the problem of income inequality, increases poverty, and concentrates power in the hands of the already rich and powerful. Why? because you can buy a personal meeting with our PM for £250k donation to his party. Because you can pay lobbying firms to pressure MPs to vote in your favour. This right here is the strucural violence I explored in an earlier post. Have a read: https://economicwardiaries.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/meditating-on-economic-violence-and-economic-self-defence-part-1/

I cried when I explained these 3 related points to my colleague at work, who is a single mum earning £6.87 an hour and caring for a terminally ill sister-in-law. She hadn’t seen the big picture before. (It was a stifled, welling-up-with-tears-looking-away-and-trying-to-hide-it kind of cry. I think I got away with it.)

93% of new housing benefit claims are for working households. Over 20% of workers are estimated to earn less than a living wage (£7.20ph outside of London in 2011). This is the exact opposite of making work pay. This is the economic equivalent of punching poorly paid workers in the face and kneeing them in the testes. As well as 2.5m officially unemployed, there are at least 3m “under employed” (stuck in part-time work) in the UK. These people aren’t claiming benefits as a lifestyle choice, it’s a result of the economic violence meted out to them by the very same people who are blaming them for everyone’s poverty while enriching themselves. This isn’t just lefty polemic. It’s actual real events. The results aren’t just some chavs on telly with 50-inch TVs having less to spend on booze and fags, the results are people in the poorest areas of the UK dying nearly 20 years earlier than those in the most affluent. The results are poverty, suffering and death of real human beings. These are the results of deliberate choices by people who will never have to experience the effects.

Also, Twitter showed me this article detailing the actual lies the DWP and it’s ministers Iain Duncan Smith and Grant Shapps have been spouting recently about welfare and “reform”. This should actually be illegal in their position, IMHO. This is the soft war. This is the deceit. This is how they try and win your mind, so you will fight for your own impoverishment.

But then, on the way home, Twitter made me cry again (This is the bit where the fightback/rebellion looks possible). This time in a “fucking yes, there is an alternative, and there are people trying to make it happen” kind of way- someone on Twitter shared this video, of Peter Thatchell giving a talk about “Economic Democracy”: [Click Here] It’s over 90min. I watched 5 on the bus, and it was enough to give me hope. I will write about it when I’ve watched the whole thing.

So to end with here’s something we could start demanding right now, to both cut the welfare bill and make work pay: Cap CEO pay at 25x the lowest in their corporation (its currently around 140x the average in FTSE 100 companies), enforce a living wage of £7.49 (that’s the latest figure I’ve seen) outside London (More inside, obviously) and introduce a guaranteed citizen’s income. THIS would “Make work pay” dear neo-liberals. But that isn’t actually what you want, is it? Trouble is, we do. And there’s a lot more of us…

PS The internet made me cry again. Someone shared this video on Facebook. It is 5 minutes long. It’s an excerpt of a speech by Charlie Kaufman. Watch it. It will grow your soul.

I think there’s enough pro- and anti-Thatcher comment in the digital world already. But there’s another angle to her story and I haven’t heard anyone even alluding to it. So I will.

I was a primary school kid in her final years in office, the son of a teacher and a nurse, living in council housing. My views on her immediate and long-term effect on our country are pretty typical of someone born into this kind of demographic strata. Its an anger/sadness cocktail that has been both shaken and stirred in recent years. In all honesty I have far worse feelings for Blair. He betrayed me personally, several times, both ideologically and practically. Thatcher was (to me at the time) a spitting image caricature and the bullying schoolteacher of our country.

What I want to touch on are the unspoken and unreported forces that direct the policies and decisions of our governments. I can see 2 basic types of pressure that move our representatives: Ones from within the nation they represent, and ones from outside. We know quite a lot about the internal pressures acting on our MPs. We know about media coverage, about public opinion, we know about campaigns, protests, petitions, and we know a little about lobbying, party funding, and “think tanks”. We need to know a lot more about the last three. Some of them are international, some of them domestic.

What about the pressures that come from outside our representatives’ country? There’s a LOT of these, and we seem to have very little decent information about them. We get some misinformation, particularly in the tabloid press and the manifestos of protest political parties like UKIP and BNP, but that never seems to get anywhere near the heart of it. In the UK we hear a huge amount about the oppressive EU and the unelected bureaucrats that are working tirelessly to destroy our industry, our currency, our morals while stealing all our money and jobs. Which has always struck me as an odd position to hold – we had a referendum about joining the EU in 1975, and we elect all our euro MPs. What we don’t hear about are the pressures that are placed on our governments from international (supranational I guess) institutions. I think these are far more important than domestic pressures, precisely because they are hidden from us. Of course they are – that’s how a soft war is fought.

The trends of increasing inequality, concentration of wealth, increasing poverty, decreasing opportunities and I think of as an economic war are not just a UK or even European phenomena. They are global. From what I can tell, they are Globalisation. Or at least the version that is being pursued so far. When you look at the policies of governments in several countries you will see striking similarities. There are also uncanny similarities between different administrations of the same country, which has been clear since the transitions from Conservative to Labour and Labour to Coalition. Either the manifestos are almost identical, or when power is achieved the policies enacted are those of the previous administration. I’m still furious that a “Labour” government privatised NHS services, schools, prisons, reduced taxes for the wealthy, increased taxes for the poor, drastically reduced civil liberties. But now I can see they were part of something far bigger.

We know the Thatcher government put in place a programme of privatisation, deregulation, and dismantling of  the welfare state that had existed since the Attlee government of 1945. Her goal was as ambitious, and successful as the Attlee administration’s. Hers was also “divisive” (which seems to be the medias glib term to describe the devastation to lives and communities in some areas of the country and the selfish greed-driven wealth transfer to the financial sector that has resulted in the recent financial crash and global depression). But hers was not her own vision, not in the same way Labour was shaped by the Beveridge report and the resolve to abolish poverty and “want”. Thatchers agenda was the agenda of the IMF, quite probably the Bilderberg Group too, and I think we miss the most important lessons for our future if we fall into the trap of personalising the economic war as Maggie vs the Poor.

A quote from Tony Benn, ex Cabinet minister in the Labour government of ’74-’79, caught my eye recently and cemented my doubts about how much control our elected MPs really have over our nation:
As a minister, I experienced the power of industrialists and bankers to get their way by use of the crudest form of economic pressure, even blackmail, against a Labour Government. Compared to this, the pressure brought to bear in industrial disputes is minuscule. This power was revealed even more clearly in 1976 when the IMF secured cuts in our public expenditure. These lessons led me to the conclusion that the UK is only superficially governed by MPs and the voters who elect them. Parliamentary democracy is, in truth, little more than a means of securing a periodical change in the management team, which is then allowed to preside over a system that remains in essence intact. If the British people were ever to ask themselves what power they truly enjoyed under our political system they would be amazed to discover how little it is, and some new Chartist agitation might be born and might quickly gather momentum.”  (from his diary published in 1988)

and here he is in 2002 giving an interview to the BBC:

“PETER SISSONS: But there are dangers here for the unions aren’t there because they did make Labour unelectable last time round?

“TONY BENN: Did they, let me just ask you that. You see I was in the Labour Cabinet in 1976 when the IMF told us we had to cut £4 billion off our public expenditure. Denis Healey was the Chancellor, very fair man, wrote afterwards it wasn’t necessary, it led to huge cuts in public expenditure which triggered the trouble over that winter. So I think the, what you might call the conventional view that it was the left or the trade unions that destroyed the Labour government, I think it was the IMF myself.”

I don’t know what the economic situation was in the mid-seventies, but I know that income inequality was at a historical low point. I’ll have to find out, because something clearly went wrong between the Socialist revolutionary gov in ’45 that created the NHS, welfare, lowered inequality and achieved full employment, and the economic problems that lead to an IMF bailout with strings, and the rapid escalation of inequality and the degradation of the public services and social safety nets that we have long cherished as the most civilised aspects of our society. It can’t be inherent to lefty policies, despite the baseless assertions of Thatcher’s fans. Our situation right now is awful, and is directly the result of the neoliberal dream. In the next two years the scale of cuts, austerity, unemployment and economic stagnation is something most of us can hardly imagine. We just need to look across the channel to Spain to have some idea of what might be to come.

Thatcher did implement policies with brutality, it’s true. And she appeared to relish conflict. The hatred many feel for her is entirely unterstandable and justified. But the policies themselves are exactly those the IMF has been advocating since its inception, and forcing on countries at their times of weakness as Benn describes. We’ve seen astounding power wielded by “The Troika” of the IMF, EU and ECB in recent years, from the pressure Ireland came under to accept loans and the conditional austerity measures despite the Irish protestations that they did not require any help, to the financial coup d’etat in Italy and Greece that saw governments replaced with bankers without any democratic process. These actions scared me. And the lack of coverage, analysis or comment in much of the mainstream media worried me even further. Combine these recent issues with Benn’s comments about IMF influence over governments in the 70’s, and the picture is really quite terrifying.

There are critics of IMF policies, and I’m going to spend some time studying these. From a cursory glance, it appears the effects of the privatisation, liberalisation and austerity that are the IMFs core ideologies are harmful wherever they are implemented. Here’s a report on their effects on developing countries: http://www.eldis.org/go/country-profiles&id=41966&type=Document#.UWajrZOceSo

I’m going to wrap up here, for now. I just wanted to get this other perspective on “Thatcherism” out there. I think its a misnomer. “IMFism” might be more accurate. Whatever you decide to call it, don’t be distracted from the real generals directing this economic war. It isn’t one politician, one party, or one country. And there’s a reason they don’t let you know that.