Sunday 1 March 2015


Election15 is essentially a choice on what kind of Britain our people want. On the one hand a prospect of growth to break out of the debt deflation trap and get back to the good old days of jobs, secure employment, steady growth (3% up to the seventies) rising wages, redistribution to make society more equal and better services and welfare. The Tory alternative is a more competitive lower wage economy, leaner, meaner, de regulated and low tax, in which wealth markets and corporate power are free, untrammelled and incentivised so that the economy is driven forward and wealth trickles down

That's the political truth that durst not speak its name. It's silenced by  the great British clobbering machine which now sets the terms of the party political debate and ensures that politicians dance to media tunes not their own.The media have the ears and eyes of the people the politicians don"t No politician cometh to the people except through the media. We try, through endless canvassing: the opium of the parties (particularly Labour because canvassing is the last resort of penury) but the collapse of party membership means we can only canvass a minority. We hoped that Parliamentary television would give us a direct line to the people and cut out the media middleman with its distortions. It didn't because so few watch and the only parliamentary TV most people see is the custard pie session of PM's QUESTIONS  which demeans us

So we're dependant, exposed to a continuous process of carping criticism, denigration and denunciation  which forces us to keep  heads down, avoid risk , thought even ideas.Never say anything interesting  Unless it's to apologise. This continuous battering hits Labour far harder than the Tories because the press is so Tory and TV follows its cues.It means everything must be simplified to a few (no more than five) points. As soon as Miliband takes a risk like eating a bacon sandwich or proposing to cut student fees  he's ridiculed and the ideas are toRn apart.

They handle things much better in Russia. Here the media control the debate. There the politicians control the media  ensuring that there's no continuous barrage of negative criticism only delight at whatever Putin proposes  There the politicians impose uniformity on the media. Here the media force uniformity on the parties.Dissent is always exposed and  assumed to be damaging.It will certainly be amplified out of all proportion and clobbered by the machine . So although Cameron changes policies as regularly as ties, the party rallies steadfastly behind each one, austerity, boom spending, pro EU or anti and becomes almost as monolithically neo-liberal as the US Republicans while the left and surviving Keynesians in the Labour Party are as assertive as Trappist monks.

Improvisation is the key not long term policy. As Alastair Campbell points out in his fascinating new book on leadership unless you have firm long term goals to work towards you're forced to debate on the enemy's terms and cant project inspiration or leadership. The Clobbering machine thus makes improvisation the norm, makes politicians defensive, focuses everything on the here the now and the short term which favours Cameron because as a PR person to the core and quick on his feet, he can improvise anything. Ed Miliband who does try to think long term about what kind of society he wants to build isn't as  good at it.Thought is a disability when the clobbering machine rules.

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