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The Real Politics Of Envy

p3_2319385bI never cease to be amazed by the outright unpleasantness of many of those on the right in this country – and I include many of the “foot soldiers” of Blairism in that category.

For the last seven months or so myself and others on the left have had to listen, constantly, to those who’re telling us that it is our job to “reach out” to some in the country and convince them of the benefits of voting for a softer, kinder political culture.

Not in this lifetime.

Some have no interest in that sort of country. Using their vote to put a foot on the throats of those at the bottom of society is the nearest these closet sociopaths will come to being unleashed on the innocent. A country as socially scarred as this, where every day brings forth a fresh outrage and assault on the poor, is exactly the one in which they want to live.

Short of electroshock treatment, their minds are made up.

Nor am I going to waste time trying to “educate” those who can’t be bothered to investigate facts.

You can tell them from the rest by the newspapers they read.

If they’re still buying The Telegraph and The Mail they’re probably not going to snap out of it and are comfortable in their own ignorance, spoon-fed their daily diet of half-truths, innuendos and even outright lies.

Others … there may be a way of getting to them, but that would involve left wing politics itself “modernising” to suit their view.

And what the Hell would be the point of that?

Before I go on, I want to tackle this notion that right wing politics “triumphed” in the last election, that the Tories were elected on some kind of thumping mandate and this delivered a verdict on Labour and it’s “too left wing to be credible” manifesto.

Both those things are cobblers.

The Tories won the general election with exactly 37% of the vote. A mere 24% of all those eligible to put a cross beside a name did so for one of their candidates. The notion that, as a consequence, “the country” delivered a harsh verdict against left wing politics is risible.

The simple fact of the matter is this; left wing politics wasn’t on the ballot paper.

The Tory Party’s bogeyman – Red Ed Miliband – is one of the most blatantly fraudulent constructs of our time, and that anyone bought it for a second reveals the totemic ignorance many still have about politics and political issues.

Miliband was a straight-down-the-line centrist, in a party filled to the parliamentary rafters by those who tack to the centre-right.

Many of their policies were slanted just-so.

On public spending and the deficit there wasn’t much to choose between them and the Tories.

The plans to spend countless billions of pounds on an obsolete weapon system were, and remain, shocking.

Then there was a series of immigration policies which turned the stomach.

This dog-whistling to the UKIP tendency was deplorable.

On other policies, Miliband’s ideas would have been welcome and attractive and would have benefited the vast majority of people in this country.

I know that implicitly, and yet in Scotland we had an even better offer from a party who, themselves, are centrists. It’s just that here the political “centre” is further to the left.

Nicola Sturgeon, a courageous and determined politician with a social conscience most Labour MP’s simply don’t possess, was pledging to support all the good parts of Labour’s manifesto and more, and her commitment to ending austerity was more attractive than their plans to cut public spending more slowly and less harshly than Osborne.

I supported her for two reasons; Labour in Scotland has been a disgrace for years and because public spending had already been cut back too sharply, and the state shrunk too much. I also support Scottish independence and felt a good deal for this country was only possible if we sent as many people willing to speak up for us down to London as was permissible.

She had vowed not to let Cameron into Downing Street if it was in her power to prevent it.

I believed her then and now, and in light of that there was no risk in voting for an SNP candidate.

Labour’s own weaknesses, and their political incoherence, are why they lost.

Yet the answer some in Labour offered for the defeat was to look at all the wrong things, which culminated in the sight of the gutless shadow cabinet abstaining on the Tories early welfare vote, which would effectively have killed Working Tax Credits for thousands of people.

This spinelessness reminded many here in Scotland as to why we’d voted as we had.

Had Corbyn not been elected Labour leader it would have been worse.

They would certainly have moved to ditch the attractive parts of the manifesto – the tax changes, banking reforms, energy industry restructuring, educational advances and rolling back the privatisation in the NHS – whilst more tightly embracing the negative ones.

This is one of the reasons they lost so heavily in Scotland; even whilst the party rank and file were campaigning on the good aspects of the manifesto the papers were filled, day after day, with stories about how not only some of his own MP’s but “party grandees” – those who never reconciled themselves to Miliband’s leadership – were sniping at him from the side-lines.

Elements within Labour itself did as much as the right wing papers and Conservative Central Office did to put “Red Ed” in the public consciousness, and is the reason I hold them partly responsible for the defeat.

They seem pathologically determined to do the same thing to Corbyn.

I have never seen the leader of a political party so openly contradicted and undermined by his own MP’s.

The spectacle is ghastly for everyone who believes in a progressive agenda.

It’s these people, more than anyone, who keep on trying to get across the message that for Labour to be “electable” it has to “reach out” to those who voted Tory.

What they actually mean, of course, is that the party has to ditch its opposition to much of the austerity agenda and embrace things that are better represented across the aisle.

It’s so cowardly everyone in the country should despair.

This is the path of least resistance.

It’s not so much retreating into a comfort zone as it is simply laying down your principles and politics in the middle of the road and watching as they are run over.

All of which pre-supposes that these folk have principles in the first place.

The media and those on the right, in Labour and outside of it, have a sneering contempt for left-wing ideas and policies, as if they were an aberration. One of the most frequently heard criticisms of socialism (and I am a socialist) is that it is the “politics of envy.”

The idea makes me laugh.

I used to call it the “politics of anger”, anger that a small number of people in this country hold the power, as well as the wealth.

It’s not envy to be infuriated when you look at those earning fortunes on the stock market whilst public servants are demonised.

The lives of those on seven or eight figure incomes are so far removed from the day to day realities of the rest of us that you might as well be envious of the Roman Emperors and their opulence.

The politics of envy are, however, alive and well in Britain, but they are overwhelmingly the preserve of those on the right.

That’s been the case for years now.

If you earn under £40,000 a year – a full £13,000 higher than the “average median earnings”, a number grossly inflated by those at the top earning mega-bucks and bearing no relation to what most people do earn – and you voted Tory you are kidding yourself if you think you did it because that was the best thing for you and your family.

Social security recipient’s aside, no other social group in this country suffers more from the appalling policies of a Tory government than middle income earners, and it has forever been thus.

If you’re one of them, you were conned.

If you’re on a low income and voted Tory I’m tempted to suggest you deserve everything you get.

You’ve been suckered, and it was easy to do.

At Conservative Central Office they are laughing at you, and the rest of us with you, and rightly so.

These people weren’t offering social mobility and prosperity.

Thatcher – who I despised – at least, did promote the idea that everyone should be reaching for the next rung on the ladder.

This government knows that’s a nonsensical idea and doesn’t even try to sell you on it.

Instead, they entreat you to look down … at how sweet other people – those on an even lower standard of living – have got it.

And mug that you are, you acted accordingly.

The chances are that what did it was appeals to jealousy, most prominently the finger-pointing at social security recipients and the notion that Labour was “soft on welfare.”

In truth, they are anything but; in fact, many in their ranks, like the awful Rachel Reeves, would have gone further than the Tories, just to bolster their own “credentials.”

One of the strongest criticisms I have of the party is the craven way they suck up to the right wing tabloids on this issue when they should be fighting lies and smears with the truth.

And what’s the truth?

Social security is a pittance and even without the benefit cap most people on some form of benefits were struggling just to get by.

And spare me, please, all the right-wing claptrap about people who can still afford fags and booze; this stereotyping is cringe-worthy and actually part of the larger point.

If you voted Tory because Labour was soft on people who can “afford to get pissed every night and moan about being skint” then you, my friend, are a fool and the real joke is on you because you’ve been royally grafted by people playing to your prejudices.

It doesn’t even matter that the media portrait of the “work shy scrounger living off the state” is largely a figment of The Daily Mail editorial staff’s imagination. Even if this was as widespread and costly as they claim, you’ve still been taken for a ride.

None of these people are rolling in cash.

Most of them live in sink estates where most Daily Mail readers wouldn’t go if they were being dragged there. Their “quality of life” isn’t one anyone would want for a second and none of you would swap it for your own.

Yet elections turn on demonising these people, and making you question why you’re unable to afford the things you want from your own life when they evidently can.

Except they can’t either! 

The family that goes on two foreign holidays a year whilst on benefits … if it happens at all it’s an aberration in the system and rarer than a MP who isn’t fiddling the expense account.

For that, you would tear down the whole social security safety net.

For that, you would allow grubby Tory hands on the NHS.

Are you demented or something?

It brought you, personally, no benefit.

You voted to take something from other people, not for a better life for yourself!

Ask yourself this. If the government, tomorrow, took everything those people got from the state, what difference would that make to you?

Answer; none.

And if this is the first time that’s dawned on you …. you need more help than I can provide.

The way other people use state support, more likely than not, was part of the reason you cast your votes for a party that actually gives even more state support to those who need it the least; tax cuts and incentives and subsidies for companies and individuals already earning fortunes.

You understand why some of us on the left can’t believe what you did?

It’s bad enough that you believed transparent guff, but to have allowed it to focus your attention on the wrong people … well that’s just ridiculous and that sound you hear in the background really is the laughter of Ian Duncan Smith.

They pulled the same trick over immigration, making you jealous and fearful about people who arrived in this country with the shirts on their backs, who are stuffed into the kind of housing you wouldn’t put a dog in and who do the kind of jobs you most certainly wouldn’t trade your annual salary to take on yourself.

People say I should be reaching out to you, that the left can’t win unless it does so.

The more cynical amongst them say that it’s our responsibility to pander to your insecurities and irrationality, all the better to get into government and serve “the greater good.”

Yet the greater good, in their eyes, is about hammering the weak and helping to impoverish those already in great need, when what those folk require is a helping hand.

Their version of social policy is to abandon entire communities.

Their version of economic policy is to cut taxes for those who already fail to the meet their obligations to the rest of us.

Their defence policy is predicated on enormous floating phalluses and a leader’s willingness to unleash nuclear vengeance on innocents in a foreign land.

I’m not in the mood to pander to such sentiments, or those who voted Tory out of ignorance or misplaced jealousy, enacting the politics of envy whether they realise it or not.

I would rather you’d done it for the same reason others have; a sickness in your soul and outright desire to do evil or because you’re selfish, greedy sods and know who butters the bread.

Those motivations I can at least understand and maybe even respect.

I have no respect for you at all.

If this is your first time reading, welcome to Comment Isn’t Free.

If you’re going to stick around, you should at least know how I feel, and what to expect.

(I’m a full time writer who depends on the goodwill and support of my readers. If you want to support the work the site does, you can make a donation at the link. Many thanks in advance.)

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6 comments to “The Real Politics Of Envy”
  1. Good article, summation. More info is coming out on the concentration of wealth. The more info that comes out the clearer it becomes why governments act the way they do, why wars occur etc and why a growing global population is riven with war and want.

  2. Brilliantly passionate.
    An incisive piece which clearly outlines how the press and media manipulate the public’s emotions, preying on the baser instincts of jealousy, envy and prejudice.
    It is an insightful critique on the moral weakness of Labour who try to pander to the media of the “right” to achieve power

  3. Good article James people are their own worst enemy they are jus too lazy to understand how the system works,the eastablishment have no such millstones,they know and have known the weakness of the working class and they hammer it home,the British Empire was founded/maintained on baubbles/bangles/beads to the unknowing indigenous peoples,the same applies in our own backyard,they rub their hands with glee at the thought of more of the “great unwashed” clamouring to get down to London where they are swallowed up whole and spat out,how demeaning yet there is no end to the procession,tossers to a man/woman.

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