There is a chill blowing through the streets of London, Cairo, Athens, Damascus, actually coming to think across the whole world a core principle of modern western society is under attack. The under siege belief, I am sad to say is democracy.
The Arab spring that initially promised a new democratic era has come up against barriers at every turn. In Egyptian protesters have returned to Tahir square, where many activists have lost eyes or even in some cases their lives.. As I speak the election results are being pushed back because of a high turnout at ballots, all raising suspicions about how fair any result will be.
In Syria it has been reported that over 4000 people have been killed in the uprising against Bassar Al Assad. Recently the Tories gave the Metropolitan Police permission to use rubber bullets at the recent student protests. Since when did we vote for our Police force to upgrade to weapons similar to those used on the streets of Cairo and Syria where they have been responsible for blinding protesters?
Already in financially hard up Italy and Greece un-elected politicians ”Technocrats” have been appointed as Prime Ministers in order to force through severe austerity measures. If the Greek or Italian general public disagree with the mass cuts to public services, they can knock at the door of unaccountable politicians but no one will answer their calls.
There is a long history of governments using financial crisis in order to impose radical ideologies. In the aftermath of the great depression the Nazi’s were able to radicalise the German middle classes as fascism swept across Europe. During the 1970’s Chicagoschool free market ideology was first imposed in Chileby General Pinochet. The programme of mass privatisation and opening of markets to foreign investment had disastrous results of the people of Chile. Pinochet had a solution for those who opposed the free market dogma being implemented. That solution was murder in open daylight or disappearance during the night.
In the UK Thatcher embarked on her programme of radical financial reforms by de-regulating the markets and in essence starting the process that ultimately led to the financial crisis of 2008. Her radicial economic policies following the teachings of Milton Friedman hit the youngest in society the hardest a trend that the modern day conservative government seems to be reveling in repeating. Recent figures showed that over 1 million young people under 25 are currently unemployed.
Conservative minister Greg Baker recently said “We are making cuts that Thatcher could only have dreamt of.” What was that phrase the Tories used to band around? Oh that’s it “compassionate conservatism” well that looks as if it can join “big society” in the buzz phrase bin.
George Osborne’s Autumn statement has confirmed that it will be the nurses the teachers and fireman who will foot the bill for the 2 extra years of austerity. With 51% of funding of the Tory party coming from the financial sector, Osborne and co have decided to punish families, woman and the most vulnerable, whilst protecting their friends in the city.
Having already attempted to sell our forests the Tories have essentially guaranteed that a large proportion NHS services will be delivered by private sector companies. Cameron’s campaign poster during the build up to last year’s general election adorned the words “We can’t go on like this. I’ll cut the deficit not the NHS”. Well that appeared to be a big tasty dose of voodoo politics, currently the rhetoric is not matching the reality. The Tory election manifesto didn’t promise any of this. Now in power, the Tories have reverted back to the nasty party, no husky rides or recycled trainers. It’s full on tar sands backing and public sector hacking.
What the last year has demonstrated is that neo liberalism won’t go down without a fight. The IMF is insisting on imposing severe austerity on the people of Greece, Italy, Ireland and Portugal. I feel sorry for these countries; history tells us that the fate that awaits them is the same as that of Russia, Poland, Iraq. Who in recent times have experience the IMF induced recipe of mass unemployment, widespread poverty, the mass transfer of assets from the hands of the people to that of foreign multinationals. Read Naomi Kleins book The Shock Doctrine for the full story.
Those of us that believe in democracy need to keep a careful watch on what is happening across the world to our politics. Very quickly things can snowball. I never want to see this country in a position where my MP is an unelected official; they would have no incentive to listen to me let alone those in real need of support from the state. On second thoughts I wanted a Robin Hood tax and I had ended up with rubber bullets, so I am not sure how it can get much worse.