Thursday, 21 May 2015

The M-Word: Mensch...

My view of Louise Mensch’s action against young Abby

The episode where Louise Mensch has a go at the prime mover behind the brief “Milifandom” craze is now well-known. In my view this is symptomatic of the general Tory attitude to everyone who is not a senior member of the Tory establishment (Tory politicians, Tory journalists, the Tory City klepto-oligarchy and Tory busniessmen - and yes they are normally men). This attitude distils down to the feeling of entitlement to bully, harass and intimidate those they consider the ‘other’ or who they consider to be below them. This is the way Tories work, from Nicky Morgan’s threat to teachers in supposedly “coasting” schools - whatever that may mean (she conveniently doesn’t define ‘coasting’) to Theresa May’s attempts to silence the Police Federation while she sacks a whole load of their members. It is their MO; bully the opposition, use the power of big money, the panoptic power of the media and its ability to set the debate on the Tories’ terms to win without ever allowing a debate.

The thing about this bullying, is that it is so ubiquitous that it rarely becomes visible to everyone. In this sense Mensch has done everyone a big service, everyone except a spirited 17-year-old called Abby. This establishment bullying only becomes visible when it is directed, by an adult, at a child. And not only that, by an adult who has a great deal of power, an adult who writes for one of the largest-circulation Tory propaganda rags in the UK, and the most manipulative. Mensch is not merely an articluate adult who is very rich, she has access to an audience of millions. A power imbalance of immense proportions. 

This is the meat and drink of bullying, a power imbalance between bully and victim, this is the prerequisite of any bullying action. Like I say, when it is Morgan bullying teachers or May bullying coppers we don’t see it for what it is, but when Mensch has a go at a teenage girl it is revealed. As with the type of bullying everyone experiences in school, the workplace, the family, the local community or elsewhere not only does the bully have the power to repeatedly do things that harm the victim but the bully has the power to portray the victim as as the bully and herself as the victim.

Mensch’s excuse for bullying Abby is the suggestion that someone other than Abby was the originator of Milifandom. This is a red herring. It does not matter, it was Abby who was responsible for spreading the phenomenon. On Mensch’s part it was nothing more than a justification for bullying. 

However the issue that concerns me is how it makes it just that little bit less of a taboo for adults to bully children, or be seen to bully them. It presents a precedent which makes it easier for adults to bully kids online. We have already seen, how TERFs, MRAs, anti-‘censorship’ advocates and other unsavory individuals who abuse, doxx and harass people online behave. This is why I believe Mensch’s action is unforgiveable. She is a prominent celeb who can easily whip up hatred of a relatively powerless young girl, not only that but while Mensch can influence the opinions of people around Abby, Abby cannot do the same to Mensch.

The Tory power-klepto establishment is a multilayered, complex, ruthless machine for the repression of those who are powerless and who might present a threat to their interests. It is at its most visible when the likes of Mensch exercise its power in a more vindictive and fanatical way than usual. Her vindictiveness and fanaticism has exposed it in all its cruelty and visciousness. In doing so either she will have produced a backlash against adults bullying teenagers in the way she did or will have made that sort of intimidation more acceptable, at least online. I fear, given the current trajectory of British culture, the latter will be the case.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Is there a future?

Let us be honest, tonights election results are a disaster, and not just a disaster for Labour, they are a disaster for the country. As I write the possibility of an overall majority for the Tories is on the cards. So what went wrong for Labour.

Firstly we need to get real about the influence of mainstream media vs social media. The idea that MSM is losing its power is over. Some people have been suggesting that, because newspapers are losing sales of paper copies, they are losing influence over the electorate. They are not, online versions are still very popular and the go-to places for news. The MailOnline site is still one of the most-visited sites in the world.

Secondly we need to ubderstand the way the Tory commander Lynton Crosby manipulated Ukip to take votes from Labour, so although Labour won votes from the LDs lots of Labour votes transfered to Ukip. This is a strategy he ised in the past in Australia and it has worked here, divide and rule, pure and simple. He is playing the first-past-the-post system for all it is worth and it is working for the Tories.

Thirdly Labour needs to be honest about the party it has become; it is no longer a party that appeals to traditional working-class voters; it urgently needs to expand its number of working-class MPs and candidates. This is likely to be difficult.

The problem for Laboutr now is going to be that there will be two assessments of the result, one will be that Labour wasn’t left enough and another that Labour wasn’t right-wing enough. Both will view the results from their own perspective and both will be wrong, and both will be right. Labour will need to consider this carefully before deciding on who to elect as leader. A comprehensive analysis of the demographic it needs to vote for it will need to be done and policies chosen that appeal to that demographic. In my oipinion that demographic must be the working-class. They are the people who have suffered under the coalition and austerity; they are the people who will suffer from the inevitable break-up of the UK and withdrawl from the EU.  However we owe it to the working-class, the poor, the disenfranchised and the excluded to get our act together sooner rather than later. In a sense Labour is in a cleft; beeing more left-wing will attract more people opposed to austerity, but will expose Labour to criticism in the media about profligacy and worries about the economy. Labour needs to be clever about this and learn from this.

Finally we need to be careful to apportion blame where it is due, and that is not one single thing. The way Cameron has put party advantage before the needs of the country is going to be a feature of the next parliament; he will do a great deal to cement his advantage by changing boundaries and fixing seats, he will use the power of the media to ensure he has a huge advantage over Labour and he will continue to divide and rule and continue to use the threat of the SNP against Labour.

Finally the Labour conversations on the doorstep, that we have been having, we need a better ground campaign and we also need to recognise the limits of that style of campaigning. It has not worked. We also need to recognise the rise of an ugly nationalism in the UK which is going to reduce this country to ruins. The zero-hours culture, the NHS cuts, the privatisation of the school system, ever higher university fees and laws to protect people from bullying at work and to restrict unions power will proliferate, as will short-term renting and greater inequality. All these will make it harder for Labour to get back to winning ways. 

We need to have a more sensible conversation about whether to more to the left, the right, or to construct a new type of party which campaigns on the issues that the voters are really concerned with. We need to avoid a left-right fight, we need to be more analytical than that, and face up to what has happened with clear eyes and a clear head. We also need to accept that PR is the only way forward for the left in the UK, or what is left of it. 

Lastly, in 2010 I predicted that David Cameron would be the last Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. It looks like this is going to happen.