Friday, 12 July 2013

Divide and Rule

So it's 23:38. I have been playing five a side football and then having a beer and a chat with a few friends. I really should be going to bed, but I have something important to say. Barnet and perhaps the whole country is at a crossroads right now. We have a few choices to make, a few choices which all of us will suffer the consequences of for many years to come. We are in the fourth year of coalition "austerity" government. We are also in the twelfth year of the Conservative adminstration in Barnet.

I quite like the idea of "austerity" as a concept. In its truest form, austerity should mean everyone tightens our belts a bit and pays down a few of the debts we've built up. The last great period of British austerity was after the war. As a nation, despite  a huge drive to pay our debts and rebuild our country, we invented the NHS. We had rationing, but public health improved.

So what is austerity in 2013? Austerity is Tax cuts for the very rich according to the coalition. Where is the austerity for those at the top? Austerity is cuts to the services for people who cannot look after themselves. Whenever tax increases for the wealthy are discussed we are told that this is bad for the economy as the rich will work less hard. Strangely enough, changes to the  funding for education don't see the same logic apply. It doesn't occur to the numbskulls we've got running the country that young people won't see the point in getting a degree if it leaves them with tens of thousands of pounds worth of debt.

But I see a deeper, darker motivation. It is the old principle of conquest by divide and rule. Whilst social havoc is wrought on those in the bottom echelons of society, the Conservative Party are obsessing about Europe and agitating for a referendum. To me this is a smokescreen. People are suffering from cuts, yet we are told by the Murdoch inspired press that the problems have been created by the EU.

We are told that it is the fault of the "Europe" that we couldn't deport Abu Qatarda. No Tory mentions that British Law would deal with the issue in exactly the same way. If anything British Judges are even fairer and more independent than European ones. And as for the European Convention on Human Rights, whose idea was it in the first place? Yup, it is a British invention and nothing to do with the EU.

And then there are those in the Tory party who bang on about immigrants. They forget that business wants immigrants to work for peanuts. The same business that donates huge sums to the Tory Party. We hear endless chatter about Lady Thatcher "bashing the EU with her handbag". Which Prime Minister passed the single European act. It was Thatcher. Despite all her rhetoric, she was just as Pro European as any other Leader. She never gave us a referendum and she never pulled us out.

Now we have Lynton Crosby, the Tory election strategist grabbing the reigns of rebuilding the Tory Brand. What is his strategy. It is becoming pretty clear that it is all about turning the Trades Unions into bogeymen who pull the strings of the Labour Party. I think this is a ridiculous strategy. Didn't Lady Thatcher emasculate the Unions? Wasn't that her claim to fame? I think Crosby has made a bad strategic error. It is not like the 1970's where people see the Unions as a threat. Most people can't remember the last strike that actually had  a major impact on their lives. Most people have forgotten the days of strife in the 1970's with three day weeks and flying pickets. Most people recognise that Unions are organisations fighting to improve the lot of the working people of the UK and they really don't think that is a problem.

The whole strategy may backfire when we ask who funds the Tories and how their strings are pulled. Today we saw Finchley MP Mike Freer tweeting about Unions influencing the vote in the Labour Party candidate selection in Finchley. (from Mike Freers Twitter account

Well Mr Freer. The Barnet Eye has seen exactly how many questions you've raised on the subject of telecommunications in Parliament. We also note how you received an honoury MBA from Harvard whilst studying in the BT Vital Vision program, which was designed to "help up and coming potential leaders". Well Mr Freer, what do you think voters would worry more about. An MP representing the rights of ordinary working voters who simply want a better, safer working environment or an MP who gets an MBA as a result of a BT sponsored program and then asks endless questions in Parliament about Telecommunications. Now I may be wrong about Mr Freer, but his background was banking, not Telecommunications.

The Conservative Strategy, as ever is to place the fear of the bogeyman at the heart of the political debate. I suspect that the opinion polls will show that the Trades Unions and Len McLusky are pretty useless bogeymen. I suspect that when the penny drops, they will go seeking new targets and perhaps these will be softer targets that the Unions. I predict a very divisive couple of years.

By the way, I am not and never have been a trades unionist. I am not a member of the Labour Party and I am not someone who supports the rights of the likes of Abu Qatada to go around stirring up inter-community strife. I am however someone who believes in digging a bit deeper than the headlines in the Sun or the Tweets of Mike Freer for my information. As my father often said, if you don't want to find slugs, don't lift up stones.

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