Soon after the industrial revolution began in the 1900’s there were mass strikes and workers revolutions. The people fed up with the direction of the country as a whole and worse yet, the subjugation of a whole section of society, decided enough was enough. What followed in the years after was the founding of the NHS, workers rights, maternity pay and all the other things we take for granted now. The vast overwhelming majority of that came from the Labour Party. In fact the revolution came after people rejected the then Conservative Party.
Fast forward to somewhere in the 1950’s and productivity of the worker was so high that they ‘wondered what they would do with all their free time’ as machines halved the work hours and just one worker was needed to bring home enough money to live on. It was seen as a golden age in many respects, certainly for working families.
Fast forward again to the late 1970′ and 1980’s at a time again of recession and what came to arguably be the birth of corporate capitalism, no longer was it good enough to just earn a living, make some profit and be happy with that, this was the birth of the mantra that ‘ever more profit’ was needed if you were to make your business successful. Those that couldn’t keep making ever more profit in the world would fall by the way side. The advantage to this was lower prices on goods and food but it meant the best way to eventually achieve ever more profit was to squeeze the worker, squeeze what they could out of people to make their businesses gain that extra profit. Around that time under the Conservatives, Margaret Thatcher was closing down Labour intensive industries such as the coal mines with nothing to replace them, she was slashing social housing and cutting back on the welfare state and the NHS was in turmoil. Does this sound all too familiar?
So to the present day and perhaps the fault we are here in this position today is Tony Blair. The man who took Labour to the centre ground. It must be said that he did oversee some prosperous times but what it meant was that the left vanished, financial caution went out of he window as Labour spent big but saved nothing for when times got tough and as such became the party no one trusted with either the economy and indeed on the question of trust. Master of spin and deceit and ultimately a liar, his single most memorable contribution to his tenure will be taking us to an illegal war in Iraq and setting in motion the complete destabilisation of the Middle East. That’s some feat for a leader of what should be a socialist party.
Then came the recession of 2008 and by 2010 the Conservatives had taken back control again and this had led to the utter collapse of the left and a repeat of the Thatcher years. Whereas Thatcher promised patriotism and a hardline in world affairs, so too Thersea May promises patriotism (Brexit) and a hardline in world affairs (immigration). Thatcher offered a closure of the mines, David Cameron effectivley closed the steel works industry. Thatcher offered a slash and burn of the welfare state and social housing, the Conservatives today are slashing the welfare state and failing to invest in housing. Don’t be fooled by their house building claims in this recent Autumn statement, they made promises to build 250,000 homes every year in 2010 and in 2015 but delivered on neither occasion. Affordable housing is far from affordable and right to buy is being extended to more housing association properties which will mean less social housing being available. Food banks, stagnation in wages now until beyond 2020/2021 and the official economic experts stating that we have lived through the worst 10 year period for wages in modern memory.
There are many other issues today including benefits, where the poorest in society as well as the working poor, are about to feel the effects of further cuts to the welfare state and we must not forget the NHS. With the implementation of STP’s looming, behind the scenes privatisation, the implementation of an unworkable 7 day NHS service it won’t be long at all before we say goodbye to what we know today as the NHS. Hello private health insurance.
What’s worst about all this is we have a left movement in this country that is so hell bent on trying to elect Jeremy Corbyn that that’s all its doing. The Conservatives have gone unchallenged in many areas this past year and the Tory’s have pushed through every piece of legislation that is a detriment to every person in the UK and yet silence. The people have truly become subjugated. Organisations such as the People’s assembly and UK Uncut are no longer on the streets, protests are hard to come by and the average Street protest that does take place brings no more than a few thousand people. Larger peacefull protests back in 2014/2015 failed to inspire and now we appear to be at a loss on the way forward. What we can expect, bar a miracle, is more hardship in terms of rising inflation over the coming years and a trillion pound debt by 2020 according to official statistics, far from George Osbornes original plans, and that’s the point, the Conservatives can promise what they like, roll back on what they like, do what they like. They have no political price to pay for their actions either from the opposing parties or the people.
What you will notice from all this is that we have come full circle and people are working longer than ever before, two people have to work just to make ends meet. Sometimes individuals are working two or three jobs, this is a far cry from the 1950’s and a move instead towards a return to Victorian Britain.
What all this tells us is that our political system is broken, we are unable to break away from this cycle of boom and bust and that we must find another way forward other than corporate capitalism.
Our political system however doesn’t allow for systemic and radical progress. It allows only for minor progress and then realignment, a one step forward, two steps back approach because the mantra of the political parties is one of party lines. Maybe it’s time we did away with party politics.