The day the narrative changed

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The day the narrative changed

By julijuxtaposed  12.09.15

I’m so pleased, today.  I feel like I’m absorbing the collective surge of enormous hope and expectation.  It is a new day.  It feels like a miracle has occurred but, really, this shift has been dawning for a long, long time.  Not everyone wakes up together, of course but the election of Jeremy Corbyn, as the leader of the Opposition, heralds a discernible quickening.

Will Mr Corbyn have the personal and political capacity and resources for the momentous tasks ahead?  Will his Party’s dejecteds add yet another front for him to fight?  Will the media focus on the least relevant details of every political debate and gratuitously undermine his person?  Will journalicians serve public interest and present his narratives on the substances of his arguments or will they just filter for their confirmation bias, irrespective of merit or fault?  Aside from the first, I fear that I already know the answers.

It has always made me angry that Jeremy Corbyn was the only one to put himself forward because of what it revealed about the narrowness of the Parliamentary Party Mind.  How the Party and Establishment machines would dwarf him; how he would be painted as extreme, deluded and regressive.  It worries me, too, that so much ardent and desperate expectation is invested in him; that he is hoist on a saviour’s pedestal and may be pulled down by the disappointment and impatience of blind worship as readily as by his multitudinous opponents.  The battles ahead are numerous and will be vicious.  I don’t want to see the one man to stand for socio-economic decency and integrity made a scapegoat of fearful ignorance and I don’t want all the opportunities that his new status affords all of us to be thrown away, fighting distractions.

These fears abide.  But today?  Today, I see the tide turn.  Today, I anticipate breakthrough and shifts in consciousness.  I see a humanitarian public platform officially recognised and legitimized.  Today, I see the narrative space created for social justice and practical wisdom, old and new.  Today is for excitement and Hope.

Tony Benn never doubted the Labour movement

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It is a sadness that Tony Benn did not live to see the landslide election of Jeremy Corbyn but he never doubted that it could, and would happen… as he makes clear at the end of this speech in the video clip above.

It is very fitting that Jeremy Corbyn should be elected on the anniversary of Allende’s death in Chile.  Pinochet’s dictatorship has acted as a template for the neoliberal ascendancy in the western world, and let us hope that the overwhelming support for Jeremy’s leadership signals the beginning of a ‘domino’ effect for left parties across Europe, and the world in general.  It is fear of this sort of popular rejection of neoliberalism which underpins the trade deals like TTIP… and explains the urgent attempts of the financial-corporate nexus to lock in de-regulation and privatisation, beyond the reach of democratically elected governments.

Now the task is to take on the Tories and their devastatingly, destructive policies both at home and internationally.

A fairer society means breaking the big business stranglehold on politics

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Labour’s challenge to fight inequalities and rebuild democracy rests on addressing Britain’s ‘finance curse’

If the next Labour leader wants a fairer society, they must break the big business stranglehold on politics.

by Nick Dearden Re-posted from openDemocracy 10.09.15

In just a few weeks, the Labour leadership contest has substantially shifted the political debate in Britain, challenging the policy of austerity, raising inequality as the defining issue of our times, highlighting the erosion of democracy.

Fighting inequality and rebuilding democracy depend on breaking the stranglehold of big business and finance on politics in this country.  And this means reassessing Britain’s role in the world, because the prestige of this country is based upon London as a financial hub and a corporate HQ.

We live in an offshore centre for corporate interests, and this has not only fuelled poverty and inequality around the world, it has done so at home too.  Britain’s prestige has not translated into benefits for ordinary citizens here.  Despite this, political leaders have for decades failed to tackle the vested interests that have captured this country.

If they want to really change Britain, top of the list for the next Labour leader is the dependence of our economy on finance.  We have a ‘finance curse’, in the same way oil-rich nations can develop a ‘resource curse’.  Far from harnessing resources to build a fairer society, finance’s dominance has undercut other sectors of our economy.  Today, governments of every shade jump to the tune of finance, as we experiment in ever greater forms of deregulation, allowing the banks to transform everything we value into a derivative to be gambled on.

Britain has been captured by financial interests, which use this island to avoid taxes globally, to unsustainably inflate debt bubbles, and to speculate on the air we breathe.  There is no path to rebuilding democracy which doesn’t involve an almighty battle to ‘tame the City’ – with robust mechanisms to make companies pay their taxes internationally, levy taxes on speculation, restrict stock market listings, cancel unjust debts and reform the Corporation of London.

But finance is only the most obvious case of corporate capture in Britain.  In fact big business has a stranglehold on our politics.  On the one hand our government is aggressively pushing forward a ‘new generation’ of trade agreements like the EU-US investment deal known as TTIP.  TTIP threatens to water down social and environmental standards across the board, seeing such regulations as little more than ‘trade obstacles’.  TTIP will even give multinational corporations a special ‘right’ to sue our government for passing laws which threaten their profits.

On the other hand the British government is obstructing attempts by Latin American countries to hold multinational companies accountable for abusing real human rights, meaning that people have no access to effective legal redress for harm done to them by British-based corporations.  So far is the British state in the pocket of corporate interests that even our aid budget is used to privatise and deregulate economies in Africa, Asia and Latin America.  Aid money is thrown at free market think tanks to privatise energy supplies; agribusiness conglomerates get a helping hand to control seed markets; education multinationals find new markets in some of the poorest countries on the planet.

The rule of multinational corporations, which places a higher value on profit than human rights, is a key factor driving inequality. Combatting inequality means the next Labour leader needs to be prepared to use the British veto in Europe to halt TTIP and its sister deals, limit the influence of multinational corporations over the UK political process, establish a commission to tackle corporate abuse of workers’ rights and environmental sustainability, and overhaul the aid budget as a form of redistributive taxation which can help countries across the world develop decent public services.

These proposals form part of a manifesto of policies which we launch today, the first step in beginning to rebuild our democracy and properly fight inequality.  It also includes reducing carbon emissions and giving substantial reparations to help developing countries build democratically-controlled energy systems in low carbon economies.  And supporting small scale, organic agriculture, rather than industrial farming.

If we really want a fairer society, there is no alternative to taking on vested interests.  We can’t just decide to exercise a ‘nicer’ form of global power, because our power is built on a base that necessarily erodes democracy.  A powerful financial sector, unfair trade practices, ideologically-driven privatisation, and many other policies, which we inflict on the world, also serve to make our own country more unequal.  So these policies must be changed not just for the millions of people around the world affected, but for the British people too.

True, it may make our country less ‘important’ at the top table, but that is a price well worth paying for a fairer world, and a happier society

This article is cross posted from Global Justice Now and appears here.

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