A guest post by Samuel Miller
2017… It’s a bit of a badly written disaster movie, isn’t it? What is it they call them? Mockbusters? Politics and its institutions falling apart and brought into disrepute near daily. Economy teetering on the brink of brexitmageddon. A society constantly having their frustrations, anger, fears and uncertainties stoked by the next horror headline. Headlines mainly supplied by policy wonks looking to snag a vote for their agenda du jour, or a motivated meeja themselves looking to make a quid and support their party sociopath of choice. Oh, and after two referendums, the winning slim majorities and campaigns of both tainting the whole of UK society with the nasty stank of intolerance, exclusion and isolationism. Just to add a degree of difficulty we really, REALLY, needed in our lives about now. As for trust? In any major institution of central government? Do NOT get me started. It’s more than taken a kicking in the recent past. Welcome to Brexit/Austerity UK. The inevitable destination of the politics of me, masel’ and I.
No, I’m not seeing many laugh out loud moments in this particular mockbuster script either.
People aren’t born to hate or fear you know? No, that gets taught. It’s what you experience. It’s driven by outside forces in your life. It is also what I find most unforgivable about politics as it is practised UK style. Democracy cynically managed. Democracy undermined. Democracy and identity defined by the powerful, managed to favour a parliament and political class, then re-branded and marketed for public consumption. Politics and government for the population made worthless. The tail wagging the dog as it were.
Establishment parties in our own system made it ‘OK’ to hate someone. They ensured that the politics of greed, envy and self was the norm. The messages they sent out through their media chums made it acceptable to demonise and disenfranchise whole demographics for political gain, that the ends justified the means. The normalisation of the worst in our natures. Parties with decades of Westminster entitlement, preaching loyalty and unity, paying lip service to tolerance, whilst telling people who to exclude, hate and punish. Dehumanising your intended victims is where it starts. Where it ends? Historically… rarely any place good.
This past year in politics has been one long Q.E.D. moment. Lot’s of folk, especially in the media, telling us who to include on their exclusion list. Well, big whoop! They’ve succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. So, how is Brexit working out for everyone? Everybody just peachy in Better Together’s pooling and sharing union of equals? Is this the vision of the UK going forward you thought it would be?
Put it another way. If you’re poor, disabled, a supporter of Scottish self government, a person of furren origin living in the UK, furren in general, a remainer, or any number of other ‘minority’ groups*, are you all feeling the lurve of one nation unity about now? Do you feel wanted, included, significant? Do feel as if your views are valued, respected… heard even? (*Yes, I know. Not really insignificant minorities. Pretty much fairly major demographics)
If you don’t. If you feel that the language and practice of our political class has been less than honest or caring. If you feel the rhetoric and publicity generated by the mainstream media has been less than conducive toward the creation of a cohesive and tolerant society, then where does the buck stop? The source of the message? The ever so willing messenger, or those the message is aimed at?
Back in August 2016 I posted the piece Who needs a sword (fades to wavy lines);
“The written word is powerful. People can be moved to acts of great kindness and humanitarian aid, or they can be moved to acts of intolerance and great inhumanity. They can be motivated to feel true empathy, humour, regret, hope, aspiration even. Or they can be made to feel doubt, uncertainty, anger, fear and hatred. In the hands of a true wordsmith it is a tool or a weapon that can influence the emotions and opinions of individuals and populations alike for good or ill.”
As I said, the whole year seems to have been one long Q.E.D. moment. Right wing politicians and media have gone to town on major demographics of the UK in pursuit of Brexitmageddon. The reborn ‘kinder, more honest’ Labour party have gone to war with seemingly everyone else in politics whilst searching for political relevance and a long lost soul. The Libdems have sat on the sidelines and learning from their betters, now speak fluent hypocrite demanding a referendum ‘do over’. BUT NOT FOR YOU SCOTLAND! Seems you’re either not far right enough for some, or you’re not left leaning enough for the other, and both extremes would still sell their granny for a sniff of the big chair. Their hypocrisy on tolerance and inclusion, loyalty and unity is basically a complete insult to any reasonable human being’s intelligence. In reality their idea of ‘unity’ is to seemingly shout at you a lot through their respective meeja channels, demand your loyalty, your compliance and a blind acceptance of their respective narratives. Apparently speaking to you like a human being and earning those things through actions are for lesser mortals.
Maybe just me, but given their respective narratives, strategies and ideologies, I’d say they’re going about this whole reaching out and unity thing in the wrong way.
The casualties, as per usual, are a general public who simply want a meal on their table at the end of the day and a roof over their heads. A public who want their servants to do the jobs for which they are amply paid, ensure that they are cared for and just as importantly… be respected and listened to. Doesn’t seem much of an ask, now does it? Seein’ as how we kinda do pay the wages and all. Most folk don’t want to hate anyone. They don’t want war or strife, or argument with their neighbours. Life’s hard enough thanks. They just want to cut along with their lives in relative peace and security. What they have though, is a system of government, political parties and a practice of politics which drives their opinions and emotions through fear, uncertainty and doubt on a daily basis. Who does that to the people in their care? (answers on a postcard etc.)
This ‘practice’ has done incalculable damage to the constituent parts of the United Kingdom. It has fractured society, outraged partners, alienated friends, dragged an economy to the brink and generally scared people shitless. When people are scared, they get angry, frustrated. They look for targets to unload their fears and frustrations upon. Cue the never ending cycle of spin, misdirection and scapegoating. Something the current Scottish government and the wider YES movement are all too familiar with.
So, are we there yet? Have we hit rock bottom with no way out? Well, no. No we haven’t hit bottom yet (hard to believe, I know), but there is a way out before we do.
Politically, all the electorate of Scotland have ever needed to do is empower and mandate a willing Scottish government to seek a dissolution of a treaty. Take their powers back from those currently misusing them and start doing what all normal countries do. Live. Make choices. Screw up sometimes and be a credit to the world at others. Do what grown ups do. That example stands a chance of starting something better throughout these islands. No more than that, but a chance nonetheless. Aspire to be better than we are and as good as everyone else.
On a personal level? I’d say that so long as you remember what caring and tolerance is really all about. So long as you refuse to be defined or pigeonholed by some political sociopath, or an out of control media, then you retain the power to choose. You can choose to not walk on by those in need. You can choose not to hate on demand. You can choose how you live. You can choose to think for yourself. You choose.
Sounds a bit like self determination really.
Normal sarcasm will be resumed after the artisanal baps, filled with (organically reared) turkey, have been consumed. All the very best of the festive season readers.