Goodbye to the BBC as we know it

The BBC has long been risk-averse and fearful of offending the establishment. Its own demise is the likely reward for its own timidity.

John Whittingdale: MP in charge of the BBC’s future believes the licence fee is ‘worse than a poll tax’ – UK Politics – UK – The Independent

David Cameron’s Tory government is completely illegitimate … Now for the rebellion

Chancellor George Osborne, left, and David Cameron in the House of Commons

Chancellor George Osborne, left, and David Cameron in the House of Commons

Political power has been stolen from the British people.

Through a combination of an outdated voting system and a neoliberal-friendly political campaign, the Conservatives won Thursday’s general election with just 36.9% of the vote. When expressed as a proportion of the British adult population, that figure falls to 24.4%.

In other words, today’s Conservative government has the active support of less than a quarter of the British people. Their election ‘victory’ is a travesty of democracy.

What makes this theft of power even more acute is how the Conservatives are using it to force through policies which have little or no popular support, and which are being directed against many of its own citizens.

The Conservatives are driving through further privatisation of the NHS and other public services. They are continuing their assault on the poorest and most vulnerable people in society. They are introducing mass surveillance with a new Snooper’s Charter. They intend to scrap the Human Rights Act, and sell off social housing in an economy that’s become over-reliant on an unsustainable, unaffordable house price bubble.

And the Conservatives are persisting with austerity, a policy that has never worked – in Britain or, indeed, any other major economy – other than as a means of transferring wealth from the poor and middle classes to the rich. Indeed, the Tories’ entire economic narrative is a lie.

This is the very definition of psychopath economics: the Conservatives are using their tenuous mandate to drive through a harsh neoliberal agenda that enriches and empowers the elite at the direct expense of everyone else. But by doing so, they threaten to destroy the very foundations of the institutions of government, as well as the basis of their own power. This is economics by the psychopath, for the psychopath. It is exploitative, immiserating, impoverishing and completely self-destructive.

Indeed, the Tories’ whole economic agenda is about manipulating the British people into a position of dependancy on this rapacious elite. It seeks to achieve this by denying our common humanity, and our obligations to each other.

The result is a drive to remove or capture all sources of non-corporate power – such as public services, the welfare state, legal rights and protections, and especially democracy itself – so we are powerless to resist. In this way, the state has become an oppressor; a form of social and economic control. Forget welfare dependancy, we are being pushed into a state of corporate dependancy.

Psychopathic power concedes nothing without a threat. And so now our democratic system has been captured, political argument alone will have no effect. Instead, the only way for ordinary people to take back power is through a combination of civil disobedience, direct action, debt rebellion and attacks on corporate intellectual property.

The American revolution began with the slogan ‘no taxation, no representation’. In the UK, as with many Western democracies, the elite monopolises representation while minimising its payment of tax. Meanwhile, judging by Thursday’s general election vote, the majority of ordinary Britons are saddled with high taxes for minimal representation. Tax rebellion would be a good first statement of intent in the exchanges to come.

Today’s unequal balance of power cannot be redressed without challenging the neoliberal state. Failure to do so will simply deliver our dependancy. If you can accept that, dear reader, then you’re a better person than I am.

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And talking of the new UK Tory government

And talking of the new UK Tory government’s lack of legitimacy … police arrest 17 in anti-austerity protest at Whitehall – BBC News

Tories prepare tyranny of the minority


It’s barely two days since the UK general election, and you could be forgiven for thinking that virtually no Britons with any sense voted for anyone but the Conservatives.

All of the media outlets owned by ‘tax-lite’ media tycoons Rupert Murdoch, Lord Rothermere and the Barclay Brothers are pushing the line that Britons have overwhelmingly opted for the stability of David Cameron’s ‘long-term economic plan’.

But let’s just leave aside the Tory cheerleaders’ spin about ‘common sense’ policies and the need for continued austerity for the moment. Let’s instead focus on the issue of democracy.

Because, despite the assertion that Britain has decisively voted Tory, the winning party’s share of the vote – at 36.9% – would suggest otherwise.

Think about it: 63.1% of those who actually voted did so for other parties. That’s not just a majority. That’s an enormous non-Conservative electorate. (I would say ‘anti-Conservative’, but the Tories don’t stand for election in Northern Ireland which, though small, still elects MPs to Westminster.)

However, this already-obvious democratic deficit becomes even greater when you calculate the number of Tory voters as a proportion of the population. At 46.4m people, Thursday’s turnout was 66.1%, which means that the Conservatives have won a parliamentary majority with the support of just 24.4% of the British people.

Of course, governments winning power on a minority of the vote is nothing new in Britain. Tony Blair’s Labour party won the 1997 election with a 43.2% share of the vote (and just 35.2% in 2005), and Margaret Thatcher’s Conservatives came to power in 1979 with 43.9%. Indeed, the 1931 general election was the last in which a party has won more than half of the votes cast when the Conservatives gained a 55.5% share.

The first-past-the-post system has always been an imperfect means of allocating seats, but while British politics was dominated by just two parties – Conservative and Labour – it could be argued it was the best of a bad set of options. And even had Britain’s election been based on a system of proportional representation in 1979, Thatcher’s Conservatives would almost certainly still have been the senior partner in any coalition. In other words, for all its faults, proportional representation probably would not have prevented Thatcher’s divisive “tyranny of the majority”.

But what we have now is much, much worse. Now the two-party system seems to have broken down, the shortcomings of first-past-the-post are there for all who wish to see. UKIP, for instance, polled 3.8m votes, but only won one seat – Clacton – while the SNP won 56 seats from 1.4m votes. So glaring is the democratic deficit that Thursday’s results threaten the government’s legitimacy – particularly given the Tories’ austerity agenda that’s every bit as divisive as Thatcher’s obsession with monetarism.

Of course, you won’t hear such comment from the vast majority of Britain’s press and media – especially the dominant Murdoch-Rothermere-Barclay axis, which has been so fulsome in welcoming the Conservatives back to power.

When a hung parliament seemed the most likely outcome, Cameron was keen to brand a minority Labour government as illegitimate. That word has vanished from the political vocabulary, even though a minority Labour administration would have represented a far greater proportion of the electorate than Cameron’s.

What we have today is the tyranny of the minority. With tax breaks for the rich and colossal government spending cuts to come, the Tories are transforming the state from a means of redistributing wealth down to the poor and middle classes, to a means of extracting wealth up to an already-fabulously rich financial and corporate elite.

With the possible loss of one million public-sector jobs, and the effective disappearance of whole government departments – all to balance a budget thrown into the red by the cost of bailing out the banks – the risk and legitimacy of social disorder could easily rise. Meanwhile, David Cameron’s Conservatives are looking to consolidate their grip on power by changing the constituency boundaries to block Labour out of office for decades.

Today’s democratic deficit and the tyranny of the minority are probably the greatest threats to government by consent that Britain has faced for many decades. We could be entering an age when public protest will be more legitimate than the formal political process.

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If Labour form the next UK government…

If Labour form the next UK government, it mustn’t just govern the UK’s neoliberal state. It must discard neoliberalism entirely and transform it back into a state that serves its people.

Labour risks failing the English – just like it did the Scottish | Irvine Welsh | Politics | The Guardian

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