Tuesday, 25 November 2014
Thoughts on #CameronMustGo !
We haven't mentioned politics on this site for what seems like ages. Now that hasn't been because everything has been going swimmingly - on the contrary the state of Britain has never been worse (not since the Victorian slums and workhouses anyway, which we're steadily returning back to). No, it's more the fact that writing about the next Coalition policy/report/broadcast every single week and going 'what the???' was getting repetitive and getting me down. Every single outrageous policy decision seemed to top the last one and there were so many badly mangled u-turns going on that the news we gave you tended to be out of date by the time it was posted anyway. It seemed that as the Coalition were in come what may for another four years there wasn't much point in adding to the voices of protest except via my twitter feed and odd dig via our 'April Fool's Day' columns (including the one where the Devil talks to Margaret Thatcher and the one where David Cameron is revealed to be an alien from the planet Smug, I liked writing that one), with us preaching to the converted - until something bad happened to somebody else and opened their eyes. We won't bother to list all the wrong deeds Cameron has done (that would take at least another twenty pages) because you only need to look at the hashtag on Twitter to realise how he's let the nation down: zero hours contracts, rising unemployment (the only reason the figures are 'up' is because of immoral sanctions), welfare cuts, the debacle that was ATOS and disability assessment centres you could only reach by stairs, the mess with the NHS, illegal workfare, immigration attacks that use misleading figures, selling off the post office, the fact that the debt has grown bigger not smaller despite all the misery, tax breaks for the rich, nothing to help chase tax dodgers or ask millionaires to pay more...this is all just a sample by the way, the tip of a horrendous iceberg that brings tears to the eyes of any reader with a heart and a conscience. Cameron ripped a little more out of us each day and seemed to be winning, if only through manipulated press reports and overestimated popularity polls - I doubt I was the only Brit to feel crushed by it all, day after day and week after week and year after year.
However all that has now changed, inexorably, irreversibly, no matter how much money is thrown at the press to make it go away and I wanted to add my small voice to the throng, to be a tiny footnote in the movement taking place and to do my part in opening the eyes of the few readers who come to this site with no knowledge of British politics and after music reviews (after all, it's not just the UK slamming Cameron at the moment). You won't have heard about it on the news (unless you read the international press) but the twitter hashtag #CameronMustGo has been in the top ten trending items for several days now, often right at the top. As anyone whose spent any length of time on Twitter will know, seeing politics trend is unheard of for any length of time, except for when there's an election on or for discussing what the latest UKIP loony is up to and what the latest Conservative loony is saying in response to it. At long last, after pockets of isolated discussions and propping each other up when we've each been hit by some lunatic Coalition policy, we are now a voice, a movement. Politics has never really had this before: social media has of course been around for years of course, but 2006 seemed a certainty (Blair was only half a villain back then, with Brown untested) and 2010 was a rare and unique event (in that we didn't quite know what we were going to get - Cameron was untested too back then, though already something of a bully and it came at the wrong timing for Brown having a particularly difficult year). The year 2015 will be key because the results are currently so close that social networks like Twitter and Facebook can make a huge difference. I was already to make a big push come the new year and go back to my old political ranting self - but I'm thrilled to say circumstances have beaten me to it and I get to start early. What a great week it's been for democracy - we can have our say, in the comfort of our own homes, offering honest and valid opinions (plus the odd joke) and it isn't being squeezed through the lens of a broadcaster or slanted for the sake of a party poll. This is the truth, like it or leave it, and represents the thoughts of many millions of people (if Cameron is as popular as he claims, why isn't there a #CameronShouldStay hashtag trending?!)
Sadly most people in power have left it: criticisms of Miliband made front page news, even though thoughts about Ed barely made a ripple on twitter. That was a breeze, no matter how many Conservative MPs mentioned it - this is a storm and it's now raging harder than ever, even though few British papers have covered the story, hoping it will die out (hint: it won't). The few people who have covered the story have said that this will do nothing in the long term - that no one will listen to us and that we're now officially a 'nation of moaners'. That is patently daft - and will proved so when Cameron is either out of office come next May or replaced because the Conservatives won't win except in a coalition with UKIP and Nigel Farage has made it clear they cannot work together. Cameron's time is up - no matter how it's spun, no matter how many people he tries to mislead. Whinging is what would be happening if only half a dozen people had the same not-that-serious gripe about what the Coalition have been doing which only mildly affects them. But we've been speaking in our tens of thousands covering at least a hundred separate issues, all of which could have been avoided and all of which should have been stopped the minute they started hurting someone (that's how democracy is meant to work - we help each other out, not gang up and bully each other). This isn't moaning, this isn't some minor slight that can be easily soothed or patched up and it's not even down to incompetence anymore but down to a systematic attempt to attack us and remove our rights away from us. We've been trying to speak for so long - and yet we keep being silenced, along with reports on the lawsuits against workfare (which the Government keep losing in court - but only make the international press) and the EU human rights abuse cases that keep being brought against Cameron over and over again (ditto). This isn't a little light moaning, this is the angry shouting how-dare-you mood of the nation (or at least a major percentage of it) and will be ignored at the Conservatives' peril, to be silenced no more.
After all, twitter has a role to play in politics that the media cannot control. They can't tell us what to say, or what to talk about except in tiny pockets of followers: this movement is too strong for that now. If you're a swing voter, unaffected directly by what the Coalition have been up to, then it's easy to shut yourself off to what they've been doing until now- the news reports have always been largely biased in favour of the Conservatives and won't cover the scenes of protests involving hundreds of thousands of people that happen month after month, again and again (did you hear about the last rally on November 5th? No I thought not, unless you had your eyes peeled on Twitter). But you can't ignore a twitter feed spread by that many people (assuming you're on twitter obviously, but so many people are) and you can't ignore the fact that when #CameronMustGo trends day after day after day as more and more people get involved that something has gone badly wrong: it's not dying out, it's growing each and every day. It only takes one curious click and a quick glance and suddenly these people aren't swing voters anymore: they're swinging alright but at Cameron, not for him. Critics are saying that only a certain few people are on twitter anyway but that's not true: we're in our billions. And, don't forget, the people who have the most to speak out against the Coalition (the homeless, those existing solely on benefits) probably don't have access to the internet anyway: this movement would be even bigger had it represented absolutely everyone.
I'd have respected David Cameron more if he'd come out and spoken in response to all of this, come out with some rhetoric about how he was listening and paying attention and what's he's going to do about it before May, even though we all blatantly know he wouldn't listening and won't do a thing. Instead he's swept it under the carpet, gone 'la la la I'm not listening' and allowed Ian Duncan Smith to choose the worst possible time to announce another series of welfare cuts (that are deeply unfair and unwarranted: Britain provides less welfare than almost every Western country and almost all of it goes on pensions). What part of this movement doesn't he get? He's had so many 'last chances' and he's running out of lives: the public want him gone, his opponents want him gone, even a lot of his own party want him gone. Anyone else would have gone years ago and anyone in the Conservative party must know it makes sense to boot him out now, before he can do any more damage. We might not like who we get next: the blood doesn't remain solely on Cameron's hands but is shared between Ian Duncan Smith (the worst possible choice for welfare reforms because he has no heart or brain - in that job you need both!), Esther McVey (ok as a TV presenter but way way out of her depth) and George Osbourne (who frankly understands maths less than I do given the reckless budgets of the past five years). But it would be a start - and whoever came in after Cameron would be thinking to themselves: 'I have to deliver fairness and justice during my time in office - or else my neck will be on the block too!' Remember we 'hire' these people to represent us, to speak out fairly and proportionately on our problems and solve them the best way we can. We don't pay them salaries through our taxes to incompetently mess things up and deliberately attack our civil rights. We told them when to start work (although of course, none of us actually voted for the Coalition in the first place - a whole other row we've had on Alan's Album Archives lots of times before) - we can tell them when to stop. It's our right who governs us - not the parties - and there are clearly enough of us now to say that it is long past time to stop. We've lost confidence en masse now - and there is no way back from this even for a figure as notoriously slippery as Cameron.
Forget what the papers say or don't say - this is the start of a valid movement that's going to make such a difference. All we ask is that you keep your eyes and ears open through the backlash to come and vote for whichever politician you can trust most next May. I won't tell you who to vote for - that's not in my jurisdiction to say - but it's become plain who not for vote for; all you need to do is have a quick read through #CameronMustGo to find out why. These are changing times and now, at long long last, after so many years of hardship and failure, they seem to be turning in our favour.
As a postscript to this article, it's just been announced that this week the Conservatives slipped six points in the usual Gallup poll of who would vote what come the next election. They were expecting to go up by that many points after spending vast amounts (which could have been spent on our poor and vulnerable) on slamming Ed Miliband for looking 'weak' (which is hilarious: I'm a critics of ED too but compared to what Cameron's been up to, anyone would look like a cross between JFK and Lincoln and the whole point of the smear campaign seems to be 'he looks a bit weird'. And Cameron doesn't?!) so this is a huge blow for them. So much for saying that Twitter changes nothing - Twitter can change the world if enough people use it the right way. And we will, whatever our critics say about this meaning nothing. RIP Cameron's political career: the clock is ticking...
Political rant over - expect more music articles on Monday!