If voting mattered, be sure they’d outlaw it immediately. The United Kingdom is what is known as a low-intensity democracy: we put a cross in a box every five years but the social relations of the country, the protection of our rich elite, remains solid, untouched. We go out to vote for the puppets, and can’t see the puppeteers.
Former US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once said: “We can either have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” In the UK, we’ve chosen the latter, and our democracy has become like Father Christmas to a toddler: most want to believe it exists, but have nagging doubts based on the evidence. Can you have democracy in a country where 0.6 per cent of the population own 50 per cent of the land? Doesn’t that sound like feudalism? Isn’t a country where the richest 1% own as much as the poorest 55% of the population a plutocracy?
The racket rules, OK?
The people who really run our country, the racket, are a small collection of financiers, bankers and businessman. They don’t do losing. They back all the horses. And if they don’t back you – well, good luck. They own our media, our economy, our housing, increasingly our schools and hospitals, and, most important, you owe them money. That’s your credit card and mortgage. Our politicians owe them, too. For their generous no-strings-attached donations. They have the three main parties – the only ones that can conceivably lead a government in the next parliament – bought and sold, stitched up.
Perhaps the best indication of people’s sense that the main parties should have a big R after their name for the “Racket Party”, instead of Labour/ Conservative/ Liberal Democrat, is the turnouts at general elections in recent decades. The last four elections have seen the lowest percentage of Britons since 1945 turning out to vote. People know that it’s futile – the system is rigged, the horses have different stripes but all have the same owner. In the UK, we now have a sort of bastardised version of Argentina’s Peronism, where everyone is a member of the Peronist Party, but you can choose your “wing”. Here all our mainstream candidates are standing for The Racket, but you can choose whether to be on the “left” (Racket-Labour) or “right” (Racket-Conservatives) tendency.
If anyone tried to combat the structures that ensure this inequality, the racket will crush them. But no viable candidate will ever try it because they know they will be ruined – largely by the racket-owned media. Ed Miliband put forward the tepid idea of capping energy prices and the corporate media went apoplectic, casting him as the Second Coming of Lenin. That’s how extreme the “centre” is now in the UK – you cannot touch the racket’s bottom line. That’s de facto unconstitutional now.
Of course there’s a whole ideological industry constructed to legitimate theft from the poorest to the richest. They tell you that we need a “business-friendly” economy that of course means they pay less tax. They tell you we need to “cut the deficit” because it gives them an excuse to destroy any sense of solidarity with the less well off. They say we our NHS is “inefficient” and “insolvent” so they can get their hands on what has already become endless lucrative money-generating contracts. They also have the ultimate blackmail tactic. Since Margaret Thatcher destroyed industry in the UK, and switched our development model to being the “financial capital of the world”, growing fat on unregulated Wild West money, the tax receipts from the financial sector have become vital to our country. Tax from just the financial services industry in the year ending 2013 totalled £65bn or nearly 12 per cent of all tax receipts. You have to keep these guys happy or they’ll tank you.
Hope lies with the people
What is amazing to me is how humane and decent the British people remain even though they live under maybe the most disgusting and reactionary press in the Western world (which spouts this guff endlessly). The indoctrination only goes so far. In the leaders debate, Nicola Sturgeon became an overnight star because she argued for not selling off the NHS, defending migrants as like us, and generally acting like a human being. She was attacked because the racket knows they are at massive odds with the population. There is a lie that Britain is a genetically “conservative” nation. But despite endless brainwashing from the racket’s media organs about the benefits of privatization and against tax hikes on the wealthy, 48% of people polled in 2014 believed that tax increases to support the NHS were favorable, while just 21% supported introducing fees instead. It’s quite incredible that the mountain of lies and dissembling hasn’t worked. And it scares the racket.
When Sturgeon hit that chord with the people, away from the mediation by the racket’s media infrastructure, they went after her. The FCO memo which purported to have her favoring David Cameron to stay on as Prime Minister was a typical dirty trick by the racket when it sees it’s power, and the delusions that sustain it, seeping away. But the pollution they pump into society may be starting to dissipate.
Labour is no alternative
Many governments in the world have a program called COG, or Continuity of Government, which is enacted should the country undergo a serious emergency like nuclear war and allow government to continue operating. Well, the world of finance and business has a COG program in the UK that means they can continue to make their money whoever gets into power. They are often even the same people. Our politico-financial overlords pass through the revolving door between the world of finance and government – making a killing on the way out, and making the climate right for that killing whilst in the parliament. Alan Milburn, the former Labour health secretary who started the privatization of the NHS, left government and became a consultant for Bridgepoint Capital, a venture capital firm involved in financing private health care companies moving into the NHS. He was later appointed social mobility “tsar” in the coalition. These people don’t have political principles – all they see is pound signs, everywhere.
Things like the letter from 103 businessmen in the Daily Telegraph warning that Labour “threatens the recovery” (what recovery?) is to be expected. A full half of Britain’s richest hedge funders have given money to David Cameron in this election cycle – £19m in total. That’s to be expected, too. But the moralizing from Labour is a sick joke. Just last month it was revealed that the largest donor to Labour in recent years (£600,000) is a London-born hedge fund manager Martin Taylor. People like Taylor aren’t giving to Labour because they thinks the party is opposed to the racket running our country. Taylor is giving the money because he knows Labour support it.
It is true that if the racket get the Tories it will probably be fractionally easier to continue the redistribution of money from the British people into their pockets. But many programs that are making this easier – from the privatization of the NHS to private sector funding in schools – were started under the previous Labour government. Labour have always been a sell-out party – you can gauge that by looking at the state of Britain today. They have been in power collectively for more than 25 years since the Second World War, and we still have five families who own more wealth than 12.6 million people put together. Labour has never been an anti-racket party, but in their current incarnation the extremity of their lust for privatization and selling off Britain is particularly ugly.
The racket is over…if you want it
Not all is lost. It is true that a vote for the Greens in the UK, is an anti-racket vote – but that’s exactly why it’s also a futile vote. If the Greens started being proper players in the electoral system, they would come under concerted attack, and/or coopted by the world of big business, as Labour has been. So vote for the Greens now, but know it won’t make a difference. When they are a threat, you’’ll know about it. If we mock the election rather than revere it we’re halfway to making progress. Now is the time to work outside the system, to push from the sidelines and change the frame of debate. We can enter on our own terms. That’s what has happened recently in Greece and particularly Spain. In Spain, the indignados and Occupy movement have led to Podemos – now the most popular political party in Spain. And it’s anti-austerity, anti-racket, and popular. They waited until the time was right and pounced. Reforming Labour, if it ever was an option, must surely be a dead proposal now.
Despite constant harping on the success of the “recovery” the UK is on the cusp of something big. There has been no recovery for a majority of people under the Coalition – hundreds of thousands of our most vulnerable and destitute people have had their lives torn apart. That much pain and anger will not stay subdued. The corporate take over of everything in our society, too, is pulling the elastic-band even more taught. When it snaps, it might look worse than the riots. Or better – we could have our own Syriza.
I’ve just written a book which looks at the mechanics of how the racket runs the global economy, and the UK is a microcosm of a global trend: the ideological convergence of mainstream political parties in societies increasingly dominated by corporations and private capital. Democracy is now a shell – we don’t have political parties, we have a racket. And we must see it – and bring it down. But that won’t happen at the ballot box.