Basic Political Questions – Still Unanswered.

A Facebook asked for questions to candidates in a mock election. Here’s what came out of my fingers. There’s common themes and writing them is partly to externalise it all, trying to get my head round the idea that even some of it could be happening in a hopefully rational-ish society.

 

Most of these issues should have been knocked on the head long ago, though folk may have forgotten or missed some points with everything else that is going on. Millions in this country feel very similar to me. We’ve clearly still a way to go in having the necessary effect. Thanks for any answers, ideas on winning people round and making those ideas count. Feel free to use any of this and please share if you think it worthwhile. Ta.

I

Early last year Peter Cruddas, Chief fundraiser for our main governing party was filmed soliciting very large bribes (“donations” of up to £250,000) in return for drawing up “feeding into” policy.

Although he stepped down (probably because it looked awkward) there has been no investigation, criminal or otherwise.

We have no way of knowing which Bills, Acts or government contracts have been effected by such donations. But we do know that  a huge range of policies have been announced and passed into law that enable private corporations to make lots of money. There are large conflicts of interest on the part of far too many ministers, without even thinking of their mates or the backbenchers.

It’s never hard to find more evidence of this degrading of democracy. We learned recently that government will enhance it’s “buddying scheme” between ministers and corporations. Such corporations often escape as much tax as possible, having little real interest in contributing to national life. Ordinary citizens have no choice though, and have to pick up the tab when the government are soft on Vodaphone or whoever to the tunes of billions. Yet we don’t seem to have “buddy” ministers – we’re made to feel like it should be a high point of the year to grab the ear of a backbench MP for 10 minutes. Serves us right for not having that £250k lying down the back of the sofa I suppose.

QUESTIONS

a) Why is nothing being done about corruption that is this much in our face?

b) What would candidates do to find out which laws and contracts have been directly affected by such payments? Would any likely efforts be impeded by “commercial confidentiality” anyway?

c) Is there much point in pretending to have a proper functioning democracy in these circumstances?

II

We’re in the 5th year of the biggest financial crisis of our lives, arguably of all time. Many of those who oversaw and created the mess seem almost alone in that they haven’t just avoided negative financial consequences,  but have tended to massively increase their wealth.

Through measures like bailouts and Quantitative Easing, governments prime financial function has been to support private global finance institutions as much as deemed necessary (by the latter) in keeping them operational and, hopefully, stimulating growth through lending in the private sector. The former usually happened, the growth stimulation didn’t happen. Maybe they kept the money towards the next screw up. Maybe it’s all flying round cyberspace as we speak in “carry trades” and various bits of “shadow banking”. It’s probably a better and lower hassle bet than supporting such old fashioned stuff as making things within the 3 more familiar dimensions.

Describing the global economic system as routinely fraudulent is not an exageration.

Below is well sourced data on some of the ongoing systemic crimes. Obviously, if a derivatives trader (for example) is committing fraud then his/her fellow traders will probably have to commit a similar level of fraud to compete. They risk the sack if they don’t. Hence, fraud is baked into the cake. Has been for years, still is. Very little is done and everyone knows very little will be done, so it carries on. It’s basically a Newtonian dynamic. 

http://maxkeiser.com/2012/07/19/ritholtz-a-concise-list-recent-bank-fraud/

“Government” thus conducts policy around the need of known fraudsters. The next Bank Of England Governor is ex Goldman Sachs, just as many of the unelected technocrats turning up in EU and IMF posts are. They oversee vast transfers of money and other resources from us to the type of organisation who, slow as they now can be in lending to small business, did manage to launder money for larger concerns like Al Qaeda and mass murder Mexican drug cartels. There’s probably quite a lot of money swilling around the sad story of 70 freshly headless bodies arranged beneath a motorway bridge thousands of miles away. Certainly more than there’s likely to be in helping someone over here make and sell a product that may improve lives a bit.

No one connected to this laundering and other crime expects to go to jail on the whole, though the US are better at doing it than the UK. People who try and palm off that we were just part of a global mess are deluded or lying – we were the beating heart of much of the problem, mostly because of Gordon Brown, who some people actually think was “left wing”.

Banks do get fines quite often for various naughtinesses. They are presented as secondary news items (at best) as if “something is (kind of) being done”. Fines are paid by organisations, not individuals. They’re generally less by far than the money made from the crime, and often tax-deductible to boot.

If an organisation did find itself short  through a fine, they could always ask for more money from the state. We’re divvying up another £1/2bn in fines alone for the part RBS played in the LIBOR rigging. No austerity for banks, because they can threaten the state with “financial chaos” if they don’t get their way – financial terrorism in other words, as we have constantly given into since late 2008. That’s why there’s been no financial chaos right? We never fail to hand out lots of money if, for example,  another black-hole suddenly turns up that no one knew about, except for all the people that knew.

Each transaction spawns a myriad of other transactions, all getting a fee for the bank,

QUESTIONS

a) Can candidates argue that massive increases in wealth for a tiny amount at the top is entire coincidence in the wake of a crisis for which they and governments are responsible? (“yes” or “no” in the first instance is appreciated. Once that is clear, some detail on which aspects of new found wealth may be coincidence or not would be fine.) 

b) After 5 years, why has so little been done about this despite all the talk by “leaders” and suffering on the part of countless millions around the globe? 

c) Do we own banks or do banks own us? 

d) What are your proposals for dealing with this huge issue, and for persuading other supposedly democratic governments to co-operate for the best interests of citizens as a whole, rather than just the sort of companies that donate money to large political parties ?

Much of these processes centre on the issuance of government bonds. These bonds are a classic “safe haven” in strained times and prices have now reached about a 240 year high (in the case of the US) and higher in the case of the UK. If credible fears about the credibility of sovereign debt continue to grow, the bond market could turn out to yet another massive bubble that bursts. This is not necessarily an immediate prospect but is certainly credible in the next 3 to 5 years.e) What do candidates imagine the consequences will be, how would the be best staved off and/ or mitigated in their effect?


f) If you didn’t know about this issue, you do now. Can you be counted on to not go around saying “no one saw it coming” if the bond market goes belly up? 

III

Imminent benefits changes will plainly lead to an increase in child hunger. With many of our poorest households likely to be £20+ worse off a week, and food and energy inflation impacting the poor harder, faith a great many faith groups, academics, charities, community groups and more sincere people with no obvious Marxist or anarchist agenda are voicing unprecedented alarm. We are told this “necessary” as a part of the need to deal with consequences of the above mentioned crisis. 

QUESTIONS

a) In a “leading” 21st century economy should any party advocating policies that will increase child hunger as “necessary” not urgently re-examine their entire economic analysis? 

b) Why do our 3 most important parties and UKIP all insist on sticking with an application of free market theories that have proved to be a huge disaster? 

We still hear much from those who said things like “no one saw it coming”, and rather patronisingly told us that we would get the bailout money back. Yet plenty “saw it coming” and a Parliamentary Committee has now accepted that we can kiss goodbye to loads of the money.  Such people, including many politicians, have consistently been proved wrong by events.c) Do candidates have insight into why such people continue to be asked to comment on economics in broadcasts as if they know very much about the topic?  Why are these orthodox theories still broadly treated as correct in the mainstream media?

e) Do candidates have insight into the psychology of supposedly rational people who act as if they should be taken seriously, despite such glaring measurable failings?

IV

George Osborne made £100,000s profit when he sold a house we paid lots of money into as a result of him “flipping” his housing expenses. He claimed for a horse paddock too, making loads more from himself. There’s a credible argument that the paddock claim was criminal fraud and requests have been made for police to investigate. Yet Mr Osborne will soon be denouncing people for having a “spare room” if they are on benefits (with some interesting definitions of “spare”)

Ian Duncan Smith has described hot water as a “luxury” and among many who warms to a theme of a “Culture of Entitlement” among the poor. He has been known to invoice us £39 for a breakfast. He got us to pay his wife (who is independently very wealthy) to be his “Diary Secretary”.

QUESTIONS

a) Does such behaviour indicate a sense of entitlement on the part of such ministers?b) How thick do candidates reckon such “leaders” think we are? 

c) A longer question: Does any candidate look at the likes of Ian Duncan Smith, George Osborne or Chris Grayling and feel inspired? reassured? A warm glow of humanity?They may have hidden qualities that come over better in person, but politics is meant to entail a large degree of communication skills, including via mass media.d) Why then do so many “leaders” come across to so many as mediocre, along with an odd mix of  bitterness and smugness? These are among the very wealthiest people who ever lived. Why do they seem so miserable? Is it because they are so worried about us?Just a reminder, George Osborne has no qualifications or background pertinent to economics or business. It’s likely he was parachuted into a safe seat through his Bullingdon Club connections or similar.  There’s plenty of anecdotes about his early ambition to be Prime Minister. If true, he must have assumed he, among countless millions, was probably best for the job. I can barely fathom the requisite arrogance any more than I can work out what it could possibly be based one) What, in the name of all things holy and otherwise, is going on?

     

V

                                                                                               

(Some matters for Labour candidates)

I know you’re familiar with the next bit being wheeled out, but stick with it – the questions are sincere, important and an opportunity for you. Anyhow, it’s anniversary year so some of this is to be expected, and if you genuinely think this is “old hat” then please reflect that you could be approaching IDS levels of non-  empathy. And I’d also trust that you never mention Thatcher in a bad light. That was 3 times longer ago and a lot less people died on her account:

10 years ago, you had a leader who presented deliberately misleading information to party, parliament and people on a vital matter of national security – the most serious concern of the state. This careful lie among quite a few was used to prop up our unnecessary part in a war of aggression (“The supreme war crime” according to Geneva Conventions). In turn this lead to an estimated 1,000,000 deaths, not least through a dire post-invasion phase, for which we were also responsible, under Geneva Conventions, as an occupying power.

QUESTIONS

a) What internal party procedures, if any, have been undertaken to hold this person and any relevant  accomplices accountable within the party? Given that we know the answer is “none” why should the electorate trust you to be accountable to us in government if you don’t seem very accountable to yourselves?

Separately, on economics:

b) Do you think the Labour Party should apologise for hugely negative outcomes of essentially tory policies such as “PFI or Bust” and “Light Touch Regulation”?

Separately again:

For much of 13 years of government the party and countless members argued for a National Identity Register and database, along  ID Cards. Please don’t roll your eyes again, I’ll come to the relevance.

This scheme would have cost at least £12bn, using IT systems you were consistently warned would be hugely problematic if they worked at all. The intent was to fingerprint and SCAN THE EYES of every citizen in  a variety of “Registration Centres”. Those in remoter areas were to have a van come to their neighbourhood to scan their eyes. The plan was to use these and some 40 categories of data to monitor us for our entire lives. There were nasty slurs that opponents of the scheme would be making things easy for terrorists – coincidentally the kind of terrorists whose lives were made a lot easier by the invasion of Iraq.

QUESTIONS

c) What on earth was anyone thinking in trotting out this offensive authoritarian lunacy – eye-scanning and databasing the generation who defeated fascism and built the NHS and welfare state!?! How DID that get so close to happening on your watch?

You will have been far from alone if you didn’t agree with your parties stance on a, b or c. But their handling across 13 years revealed a ready instinct for right wing economics and a culture of being willing to accept that which is far beyond acceptable in a party claiming to be  “progressive” or even very fit for government. Mistakes are human of course, and few would deny lots of mistakes were made. You may want to draw a line, but before you try:

d)  What formal and informal internal processes have taken place to learn why so much went wrong on war, economics and authoritarianism, how these things were allowed to go wrong, and how such huge errors can  be avoided in the future (including via genuine input of rank and file). Have internal structures changed at all as a result of all this and more?
If so, why have we not heard a single thing about it? Wouldn’t you be shouting it from the rooftops?If not, are we to assume that we are in for travesties of a similar magnitude if you re-enter government?
In, short have lessons actually been learned and accepted among the mass of the party that would make you truly fit to govern again? If so, what are they?

f) Labour will strategy and policies in due course for the next General Election. Do you think any strategy will exceed that of crossing your fingers and hoping the Tories screw up enough to scrape you back in more or less regardless?

Such a large strategy must be under construction even at this stage, can you give us any ideas about it, or what you would like to include in it?

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About watermelonbloke

Policital / community activist (community, mutual aid, environment, animal rights, activist support, anti racism, anti corporate, anti cuts, things like that) In and out of context of above stuff: Green Party activist - on committee of north west regional party (note: This is NOT a party or party plugging blog. I have not been a candidate for 4 years and don't anticipate being one in at least the next 4) Musician - Plenty of of pro experience, mostly jazz and folk but rock / pop / soul etc all fine and groovy, just tell me the tune and I'd hope to be up and running on minimum fuss. Piano, accordian, vox. Teacher - about 16 years in schools, FE, Adult Ed, private tuition, workshops etc. Qualified in music but lots of random subjects done in supply.
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