Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Understanding loyalty

I suppose it was inevitable that the opportunity to give the Liberal Democrats a good kicking was just too good to miss. never mind that the UK still has an upper house of Parliament that is partly hereditary and partly a mass of political cronies. Never mind that all parties are committed in theory to at least a partially elected upper house. In the end it was dirty politics and not high principle that won the day. As in so many decades past, the entrenched interests of political expediency stopped any real change.


Yet it is yet another example of why the UK is in such a deep mess.


Every political party publicly accepts the need to reform our constitution, whether that is for an English Parliament or for English regional/county government reform, or whether to turn the House of Lords into the national chamber, with the House of Commons being the English chamber- there are plenty of ideas of greater or lesser radicalism. In each case, the proposals insist on an elected House of Lords.


In fact the coterie of corrupt politicians have decided that they prefer not to ask the British people what they want in Parliament. Reform has- again- been put off sine die, and the reason this time is simply an attempt to smash the Lib Dems.


In the face of the enveloping corruption of the Murdoch scandal, the Liberal Democrats have been the only party never to have been involved. The suggestion by the contemptuous is that this was because they were never asked, and that they would have been as corrupt as the others, had they had the opportunity. That level of cynicism is par for the course in modern Britain- but it is just not true. Lib Dems opposed Murdoch on principle, just as they opposed the bonus culture in the City on principle, just as they believe in constitutional reform on principle.


Principles don't seem to count for much in a country where the electorate holds its leaders in general contempt, and seem unable to differentiate between the false prospectus of political blackguards like Peter Mandelson and George Osborne and the genuine principles of David Davis, Vince Cable or Frank Field. For this is not a party political rant- or at least not merely a party political rant- the electoral system does not allow the voters to make subtle choices, that is true, but in the end the country probably does get the government it deserves.


That is pretty bad news fro the UK right now.


From abroad I see an isolated, almost myopic, political culture led by opinion-formers in the media who are not far short of disgraceful in their willful ignorance. I see a playground contempt for education, sensitivity or intelligence. I see the virtues of service and hard work made a mockery by a welfare system that promotes the shiftless and the idle and a tax system that entrenches the rich against the poor and- especially- the middle. I see short termism running riot and eating the seed corn of the future to protect the ill gotten gains of the present: a whole generation bloating their pensions and stealing from its children. I see arrogance and ignorance walking hand in hand and triumphing over any dissent. I see a magic circle of privately educated kids seizing all the opportunities, while the mass of the population are mostly denied access to the levers of power and influence and turned into an underclass in their own country.


Britain has been a declining power over my whole life- the weak-kneed and weak chinned management cowering in the face of Kremlin-funded union bosses was the pattern of the cold war, but all the so-called Thatcher revolution did was destroy the unions by destroying industry and replacing it with the illusion of finance. We have cut our defenses to the point of absurdity, yet bloated our state to the point of bankruptcy. We have become masters of inactivity, prevaricators and sophists to a hypocritical man-jack of us. 


I got involved in Liberal politics because I believed that we could only begin to recover by following a radical road. I believed then, as I do today, in the moral rights and moral duties of the individual as the basis for a democratic and egalitarian society that would be fairer and more prosperous. 


That is not a majority view.


The British people seem quite content to live in an social environment that is coarsened by the brain dead banalities of "reality television", corrupted by the idea that wealth and "celebrity" can be bestowed irregardless of talent. It may sound curmudgeonly, but there are skills which are difficult which have far more social utility than the easy-come-easy-go values of an essentially decadent culture- but few in Britain seem to care and none prepared to take a stand and the public ridicule that this would involve.


In Estonia, I see a society subject to the same temptations as Britain, yet not succumbing in the same way. In China and in Asia too, the values of education and hard work have not been subverted by a social and political leadership that at least still fears its people rather than ignoring them. From being the number one power, Britain has declined into irrelevance. The hammer blows of the conflicts of twentieth century may have merely accelerated the pace of decline that was already under way, but few, a hundred years ago, could have predicted the total collapse of all that seemed valuable and enduring. In a way, it is remarkable that Britain did not follow the road to fascism- yet in the end the road of the easy option has created a decadent and self indulgent group of passengers- the epitome of all the can-do imperial spirit once despised. 


For thirty years I have campaigned for an alteration to the trajectory of the country of my birth- and it has changed: it has got worse. In the end, I have preferred to live and work in a society that is more open and more open minded than my own: the recovery of Estonia from the black night of Nazi and Soviet oppression has inspired me for decades, first as a hope and then as a reality. I have tried to speak out for the things I believe in and stood and been involved in an untold number of elections, but whereas in the UK Liberalism is treated as a contemptible eccentricity, in Estonia it is the leading school of politics, and people are prepared to engage in genuine debate- a debate built around fact-based analysis and not the illusory bromides of an unchangeable personal "opinion" based on mere ego and on no facts whatsoever.


The failure of House of Lords Reform in Britain is perhaps a more symbolic than real milestone, but it marks yet another wrong step, yet another cop-out, yet another triumph of those who are trying not to notice the lapping tide of the flood that will ultimately drown them.


Given the contemptible display of the Tory rebels, it is easy to think that "whom the Gods would destroy they first make mad", but for a while these braying fools can enjoy their triumph.


I -for one- will curse them to my dying day. The decadent bastards who put self interest and political convenience above the real need for reform and justice.


The Liberal Democrats have been out matched and out played. The price though may be not merely their political eclipse at the next general election. It will be the growing sense of despair that simply no change is possible in the face of these pigs slavering at the trough, who took Murdoch's money, took the City's money- and sold the once great birthright of the island nations for a mess of pottage and chance of some threadbare, mangy ermine for themselves

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