Neo-liberals on the run

I have written elsewhere about how the current and apparently immutable, {if what you read in the red rag papers is to be believed), political situation is now on its way to reversal. There’s no shortage of signs that neo-liberalism, the nifty system of market led economics rigged up to ‘liberalise’ through the privatization of our public assets, deregulation of the financial sector and concentration of wealth now has its best days behind it – you’d need to be asleep not to have heard the rumblings of dissatisfaction cutting across all strata of our society right now. Of course, this thing is pretty entrenched, thanks to decades of deft manoeuvres and deep pockets a plenty, so I wasn’t, and still don’t reckon on anything overnight. More specifically though in ‘A good thing the tories won…’ I was referring to the bizarre situation of allowing the ‘Conservatives’ (they do anything but conserve wealth for a minority), a party committed more than any other to neo-lib creed, the free rein they gained in the recent election. My argument was simple: indulging a serial offender to do more of the same to solve problems caused by previous behaviour could never result in a happy outcome. You wouldn’t employ someone suffering an alcohol addiction to run your bar and expect his wellbeing to be assured – or yours for that matter. Do you think that kind of arrangement would last?

Now, everyone knows that trying to put a face on the future is a fools game but a few months down the track from that assertion I’m not the least bit surprised as to where we are now. We’ve had promises broken (child tax credits, child benefits, tax free childcare – who said ‘anti-family’?), scandals (anyone for pork schnitzel?), and the usual list of affronts to any desire for a humane society. So far so typical Tory. What’s more heartening though is the reaction out there in the real world away from the crumbling walls of Westminster. You know, that place where people routinely live without subsidized single malt or immunity from the laws of nature – or those of this country.

Some of those people have gotten their act together quick fire as coherent opposition to the nasty neo-lib ideal of austerity – that practice of pinching from the populace to pamper the poodles; you know, cuts for those that need stuff, breaks for those that don’t.  The People’s Assembly believe that austerity is entirely unnecessary and they’re right. Detailing a comprehensive manifesto that dares to actually make sense and have a plan they’ve boiled up from the simmering underground to quickly become recognisable on the UK political landscape. Of course, you’re not going to find them discussed in the silly sidebars of your rehashed dailies (those are owned of course by those with everything to gain by keeping things exactly as they are), but you will find them on the streets in many towns across the UK, outside party conferences and talking freely, and daily in the social media sphere. They have many friends, and even some economists agree that austerity is counterproductive – I don’t think it’s going to be possible to pretend they don’t matter for long but you can be sure that many will give it a good old British try. Can’t let the shine come off the silver spoons yet.

Others have done something that might seem radical against the bland background of pay-per-view politicos but is actually just clear thinking: return a mainstream party back to its founding tenets. You see, despite a plethora of pundits paid to predict political outcomes, not one seemed to anticipate the hard left Labour would turn after Ed Miliband’s exit stage right. Of course, it’s easy to miss the obvious when you spend all of your time in the company of those down the club but you’d have thought someone might have looked outside the window once or twice? Had they done so, they would already have known that the divide between their doorstep and the man on the street had opened beyond the ability of platitudes to repair.

So it is that Jeremy Corbyn is the new leader of the Labour Party. MP for Islington, Chair of the Stop the War coalition and campaigner across a range of issues for some 16 years, Corbyn appears to be everything other MP’s aren’t: honest, sincere, grounded and willing to stick his neck out. I listened to his address to the Labour Party conference last week and was astonished to hear a man on a podium talk about things that matter to the majority; to stand up and float some solutions – I don’t think I’ve ever seen the likes. Of course, most of the UK media have jumped on the opportunity to sneer and jeer but these days that’s just a sign that you’re onto something good – something natural and not the by-product or endorsement of a corporate strategy. It’s pretty easy to dismiss their bought and paid for ‘opinions’ as quickly as a prat in a pinstripe. What matters is that at last we have the chance of a real opposition in the House. Who knew?

I’ve focused on a couple that matter most to me but there’s no shortage of signs and backlashes breaking out against the increasingly evident, not to mention depressingly ubiquitous injustice and greed of the neoliberal creed. Across the land we’ve placards paraded, barricades erected, petitions posted and, in contrast to the message of apathy routinely broadcast, the electorate engaged on a wider range of issues than ever before.

The bottle we’ve been drinking from for too many years has become bitter, something new is now brewing.