The Greatest Lie Ever Told

A local student asked me some questions and this is my answer. As always, I don’t even come close to answering the actual question….

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To what extent do you believe the media has a role in the growth of far right politics in the UK?

I would suggest that “traditional media” is a lost cause.

If I want to find out about any particular global issue I have to expend a great deal of effort. I first have to read from a number of UK based sources, then compare and contrast this with sources from abroad such as Russia Today and Al Jazeera. I then have to try to use all of this agenda driven information to try to triangulate the truth. Without this exhausting approach it’s nigh on impossible to get what I would define as reliable news.

But some of our media groups in the UK take things to a whole other level. And bloody hell, they’re a nasty lot.

The printed press in the UK is unquestionably dominated and controlled by 5 billionaires (the Barclay brothers make up two of these). Through their newspaper networks (and television channels such as Sky and Channel 5) they have incredible control over the information available to the British Public.

All 5 operate as either offshore owners or utilize non-domicile status and as a result benefit hugely from complex accountancy systems that see them pay little to no tax. They will publish anything as long as it protects this situation.

All 5 also have a massive hold over the politicians of this country. If any politician steps out of line or follows an agenda they don’t agree with they will be vilified, undermined and given almost perpetual mockery (with the honourable Jeremy Corbyn being a recent example).

All 5 were huge supporters of the Brexit campaign.

There are many who even suggest that the power of these people is so all encompassing that nothing of any political consequence ever takes place in the UK without their consent.

I’m not clear exactly want they want, but as billionaires I’m fairly certain that it would be in their best interest to maintain the neoliberal status quo.

The people of Britain, who are no mugs, are acutely aware that there are major structural problems in our society. Yet the 5 media barons have proven to have long held agendas of diverting attention from away form the issues that will most affect people’s life (global warming, banking regulation, tax collection and the protection of public services) and there is also never any questioning of our prevailing economic system.

Rather than using their media networks to describe the endemic structural problems in our society they  instead deliberately obviscate our ability to find the truth and pursue a simplistic agenda to vilify minority groups as being the cause of all of our problems.

The narrative is simplistic and repeated: “All of the problems in our society are the fault of foreigners who are coming over here to steal your job/benefit/house/hospital bed.” And the result is predictable:  the people focus their anger at the minorities rather than on the true cause of their pain (the monopolistic greed of the billionaires and multi-national corporations).

Now this is obviously incredibly destructive but these Media Barons are only doing what they are legally obligated to do. As owners and Directors of companies they must, under law, try to ensure the greatest possible return for their shareholders. Exposing structural economic problems would undoubtedly lead to political change and presumably an impact on their bottom-line, which is fully at odds with their corporate objectives. So, they simply continue the narrative of blame others and refuse to ever let the other side of the story known. It’s incredibly destructive but for them, it’s also proven to be effective.

You just need to Google past headlines of these newspapers or view the evening schedule of channel five. I can guarantee there will be headlines blaming migrants or refugees for any number of problems or vilification of the most desperate people in our society as being “work-shy scroungers” and “spongers”.

This constant drip-drip-drip of dis-information will inevitably manifest itself in people as fact given enough time. We are only human after all.

And ultimately, people’s humanity is being corrupted by fear.

Everyone knows that newspapers lie, but what we fail to appreciate is that some of them lie all the time.

One of the collateral damages of or post-truth world is that not only does the present news gets distorted – the past gets rewritten as well. The press in the UK ignore, forget or misrepresent our own actual history.

Such as Europe having a long history of almost constant population movement and mixing of cultures, yet we never hear about this. We are told precisely the opposite and that our “way of life”, manufactured by the retelling of historical facts, is now under threat.

The truth however is that the greatest threat to our “way of life” is not migration or desperate people receiving social security. The greatest threat to our society is that we believe the single great lie that ever told: “some human lives matter less than others.”

With this greatest lie repeatedly stated by our media and unchallenged by our politicians we have to ask some questions.

Can our media barons ever be trusted or responsible?

Will our existing politicians start being honest?

I have my doubts, but I’m going to keep fighting for the truth from them anyway.

Our Democracy has Descended into Theatre


Occasionally I receive emails from members of the public asking me, as a Green Party member, my views on certain topics. This week I received some questions from a local student on the rise of far right politics. This is my response to Question 1.

Do you believe people have become disillusioned with modern day politics?

Yes, for the very simple reason that most political parties don’t offer anything other than keeping things exactly as they already are.

Looking back at the general election of 2015 the three largest parties (Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems) all essentially offered people the same thing (Austerity), and nothing that was on offer was going to make a difference to peoples lives. In a strange twist it was the party that was offering the least benefit to the majority of people, the Conservatives, which won the outright majority. (This was more to do with effective campaign strategies, but no doubt a very significant part was the failure of the other parties to offer meaningful change). It was soon after this that I became actively involved in politics because I had become so utterly disillusioned with it.

I’ve been able to vote for over 20 years and at no point has a mainstream political party or local candidate ever reflected my views (other than recently when the local Green Party began fielding candidates). And I don’t believe that my views are particularly unusual. In no particular order, my views are broadly:

  • I believe that the most vulnerable people in our society should get the most support.
  • I don’t believe that our health service should be privatized.
  • I believe that climate change is overwhelmingly our biggest threat.
  • I believe that there should be more taxes levied on the wealthiest people in society.
  • I don’t believe that money should be funneled offshore or that tax should be avoided.
  • I believe that an economic system that demands grow every single year is mathematically incongruous with a planet of a finite size.
  • I believe in a huge increase in environmental protection.
  • I don’t believe that we should bomb countries who pose zero threat to us.
  • I don’t believe that my taxes should be spent on weapons of mass destruction.
  • I believe that the creation of money should be brought under democratic control.
  • I believe that everyone is equal.

I would argue that all of these things are fairly reasonable, but looking at the country of Wales I am not aware of a single politician that has been voted into a position of office that shares these principles. So yes, I am disillusioned with politics because the system does not enable my views to be reflected fully through our democratic institutions.

But my situation clearly doesn’t reflect the reason why so many other people are disillusioned with politics. So what it causing this greater malaise?

Its difficult to pin down precisely but I believe the overwhelming context needs to be seen within neoliberalism, the economic principle that has dominated politics for almost all of my life.

Neoliberal economics basically involves the state stepping aside and enabling the market to perform its functions with as little regulation as possible. The desired outcome is for everything to work as efficiently and cheaply as possible so that the end user, which is us acting as consumers, benefit. Politicians of almost all parties have been following this theory without question for years.

But what we have seen over the last couple of decades is a system that repeatedly fails to deliver and as a result you get people whose quality of life decreases. The fundamental tenant of Neoliberalism economics relies on trickle down economics (so that money filters down from the top and everyone benefits) but the evidence is now overwhelming that it just doesn’t work. Inequality between the most affluent in society and those at the bottom increases year on year.

Following the financial collapse of 2008 the overwhelming response was to pump money into the banks, in the form of quantitative easing, with the hope of increasing liquidity and thus enabling the economic machine to keep working. The injection of money was supposed to keep recycling and then trickling down to keep everyone at the bottom in a place of comfort. But it didn’t work out like that.

What it created instead is what’s been referred to as the Zombie Economy; a financial system that rather than investing in physical things on the ground that could help people (businesses, infrastructure, energy) it instead sought to make its money from fantasy speculation (in the form of derivatives, future markets and property speculation). To continue to operate it still relies on semi-frequent injections of government money in the form of quantitative easing. In order to finance all of this the politicians have reduced state expenditure (cutting off support to the people in terms of essential services and social security) and increased debt (through government issued bonds).

The majority of people don’t understand exactly what our politicians have sanctioned but they can see, in their communities and in their workplaces, that there is little benefit to them. People see the impossible costs of housing, massive tax cuts to the rich, the suppression of wages and job insecurity. They see the assets of their local councils being stripped away and the services on which they depend being reduced. They worry that the benefits (I prefer the word ‘necessities”) on which they rely are the next ones to go in the coming round of cuts.

We are all seeing the increase in depression, social isolation, anxiety, psychological disorders and fear. The environment continues to deteriorate and the climate emergency continues. And amongst all of this suffering no-one is telling the people why this is all happening.

All our mainstream politicians offer instead is statements like “We are open for business’, an increase in neoliberal austerity, continued blind faith that the ‘Market’ will deliver the most efficient solution and they then dress this all up with meaningless sound bites like ‘Working Hard for You’ or ‘A Country that Works for Everyone’.

But people aren’t stupid, and deep down know that none of this is true, because nothing ever changes.

In desperation many simply walk away from politics because almost all politicians, unable to see beyond their narrow economic view, are incapable of offering any form of substitute or meaningful change.

Our democracy has descended into theatre, and the people are bored because have seen this show too many times before.

OK, OK, Time to Start Blogging…

I’ve had this website set up for many months and have only today started writing pieces for it…

Amongst my friends I’m notorious for not following through on many of the things I say I’ll do. That happens because I always try to do too many things at once, and sometimes things overlap and get me into trouble. (My version of events). Or it’s because I’m lazy. (Everyone else’s version of events). Whichever it is I’m now committing to put my thoughts down on a semi-regular basis.

As someone who has never been particularly confident or competent with the written word it will not always be pretty.

But at least it means I’m not being lazy.

PEACE

Gren

 

Politicians that Support Cuts Surprised by Cuts (not satire)

Earlier this week it was announced that Brecon Barracks is to close. This large facility is a few doors down from my house (indeed my house was originally part of the Barracks) so whatever happens to the site will inevitably create change in my neighbourhood.

Immediately there was a flurry of activity on my Facebook feed from our local politicians expressing their outrage at the decision and a number of different petitions appeared with their names on it.  This political opportunity stunk a little too much like hypocrisy to me as these very same politicians all campaigned recently on a platform for more “Cuts and Austerity”.

This is the letter I wrote to my local paper which was also posted onto our local community website, FYI:Brecon.

Politicians that Support Cuts Surprised by Cuts (not satire)

“As a resident of Watton I am saddened to see the news about Brecon Barracks but I’m not at all surprised. The Conservatives, Lib Dems and Welsh Labour all stood for election last year on manifesto commitments to make cuts, with only the Welsh Greens and Plaid opposing austerity.

Brecon Barracks, 10 doors down from my house

All three of the former parties are now campaigning against these cuts in the form of Brecon Barracks. It appears they like some cuts but not others. This political opportunism is particularly galling on the same day that financial support to the most vulnerable people in our community is yet again reduced and the United Nations released a report detailing the legacy of the Coalition governments cuts as “disproportionately affecting” disabled people.

The Welsh Green Party believe that Brecon needs more support for our most vulnerable people, an increase in affordable housing, a meaningful plan to regenerate our town and an end to damaging closures.

By supporting austerity our elected representatives are simply playing political games around issues in which they are all complicit. I hope that people of Brecon realise the hypocrisy of these actions and are not surprised to see ‘Cuts’ when our politicians manifesto pledges involve running with scissors.”

Grenville Morgan Ham, BEM, FRSA
Brecknock Green Party