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Politicians we can both be ashamed of

By Dark Politricks

On both side of the Atlantic progressives and liberals are feeling let down by their newly elected leaders. In the USA Democrats voted in massive numbers for Obama having fallen for his charismatic promises of real change, reversal of Bush policies and an end to the destruction of civil liberties that the previous administration had engaged in.

They have been mightily disappointed in their leader since he gained power. Instead of pushing for real change he has continued in the same mold as every other leader that followed him and the only real change has been in the public at large who have belatedly realised what a phony game US politics really is.

Instead of following through on his campaign promises he has watered down anything of real meaning, ramped up previous Republican policies including extending the phony war on terror into Pakistan and Yemen, failed to close down Gitmo, continued the policy of rendition that means prisoners are tortured in third world jails and continued the spying and unwarranted wire tapping that so angered Democrats when Bush engaged in such tactics. Not only has Obama continued Neo Con policies of war and the expansion of the police state he has increased the size of the state, expanded bail outs to the banks, allowed massive amounts of printing money, increased the national debt and introduced a very unpopular health reform that satisfied neither liberals who wanted an NHS style universal health system or conservatives who wanted the government to stay out of their wallets and health decisions.

Not only has he continued the previous administrations policies of expanding the size and power of the state he has failed to punish those banksters and politicians that had led the USA to the mess it was in when he took over. Instead of trying to restore some form of honour and moral leadership to a country that was once looked on as a beacon of light and hope in the world he has instead continued the same policies that have many people viewing the USA as a modern day high tech police state.

In the UK liberals have been let down by the Liberal Democrats who have formed a coalition government with the right of centre Tory party. It has been a shameful sight to watch Lib Dem’s such as Nick Clegg, Danny Alexander and Vince Cable trying to defend policies they had previously campaigned against. Whilst it is true that the Lib Dem’s didn’t win an overall majority and therefore cannot be expected to be able to enact every manifesto promise it makes them look dishonest to about turn so much on key promises and use the excuse of the coalition as their defence whilst saying that it’s the right thing to do in the circumstances.

The new government is dismantling so much of the social fabric we have been used to for so long that there is no way to accurately predict the outcome because it has never been done before. Whilst many Tories have been waiting for a chance to reduce the size of the state for a long time and see the ruins of our economy as the perfect opportunity to do so the Lib Dem’s seem to have lost their voice when it comes to softening the blow for the poor and under privileged.

The Lib Dem’s would have gained more respect and probably more votes at the next election if instead of blindly following the Tories merry dance towards social chaos they instead made their disquiet at some of the decisions more public. It is obvious because of the Lib Dem’s current political position that they want the coalition to survive as they are hoping for electoral reform which would lead to more joint governance in the future and if they fail to prove that the idea works the public is less likely to vote for reform that would mean more of the same. However their current broken promises on student fees, VAT rises and justice for Palestine has made a new generation of young UK citizens believe that politicians are all the same and cannot be trusted to keep their word no matter which party they belong to.

Nick Clegg has obviously become accustomed to the trappings of ministerial life and he had better enjoy it whilst he can because if he cannot turn the economy round, pay off the deficit as promised and restore all the civil liberties lost under Labour rule in this parliament he is very unlikely to get another chance. It was very foolish to make such iron clad pledges such as the one to fight against tuition fees during the election but I am pretty sure the reason he did it was that he thought there was little chance of him having to honour it.

It is very easy to take the moral high ground and promise the earth when you know that you will never be in a position to deliver on your word and it has been a big shock to the Lib Dem’s to suddenly be put in this position for the first time and then be held in high contempt for breaking said promises.

So on both sides of the pond there are people who voted for real change and instead have been met with real disappointment. For those old enough to remember elections of past it comes as no surprise to find that politicians cannot be trusted that once they gain a cushty job they become indebted to lobbyists and powerful pressure groups and slowly become detached from reality.

I have long said that our government needs a total overhaul to overcome the core problems of powerful lobby groups, jobs for life and a lack of real democracy. The Greeks system of direct democracy could be updated to include modern technology including referendums on all law changes (only those people who had passed a test proving an understanding of both sides of the argument would be eligible to vote) and a more representative form of legislature in which members would be picked from the general population to serve for short periods of no longer than a year.

This period of governance would be very similar to jury service and would ensure professional politicians are abolished to the dustbin of history. Because terms are kept short pressure groups wouldn’t have time to dig their claws into MP’s and the quicker turn over and random nature of the service would ensure that politicians had much less chance of being bought and paid for. Only citizens of a country would be able to serve and it is fair to say that there is probably more than enough clever, able and willing people in both countries who would leap at the chance to try and sort the country out.

However as my idea of a return to true democracy is nowhere near being implemented at the moment I thought I would list some of the policies that Obama and Clegg should enact to reverse their almost certain defeat at the next election.

1. End the wars of terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Yemen. Chasing shadows from cave to cave and across borders has cost the country dearly. Thousands of US and UK troops have died, hundreds of thousands of civillians have died and many more have been radicalised because of our actions. The war on terror is no closer to being “won” ,whatever that looks like, and the cost in terms of dollars has been in the trillions.

2. The wars have nothing to do with security and if anything have made the US, the UK and it’s allies less safe around the world. Tea Party supporters and true Republicans who believe in the constitution should read their history and see what their founding fathers said about foreign wars before following the standard Palin / McCain line of war = defence. For Lib Dem voters the majority have always been against the war in Iraq and Afghanistan but since gaining power the talk of leaving has quietened considerably. The money saved by not fighting these endless wars could be used to properly secure our borders and also fed into proper law enforcement and intelligence gathering which is the only really successful way to tackle crimes of a terrorist nature. It would also be enough to prevent some major cuts to public spending as long as we don’t decide to give it all away to the next EU country that decides it needs a bailout in the same way Ireland and Greece have.

3. Roll back the high tech police state that is spreading fast across the western hemisphere. If ever there was a case of doing the terrorists job for them then our current policy of throwing away hard won civil liberties because they “might” help protect us from a terrorist attack is it. The recent uproar over the TSA and their behaviour at US airports just shows how plainly ridiculous and sick our governments have become as well as how much the people are getting pissed off with the ever increasing intrusions into their personal space in the name of security.

In recent days we have had stories involving the strip searching of children, the removal of prosthetic breasts, humiliating disabled people by covering them in urine and the stupidity of the “don’t touch my junk” fine when a traveller was asked to leave the security area and then fined for doing so. Not only are the naked body scanners dangerous, recent studies have shown that the chances of getting skin cancer from the backscatter xray machines is the same as that of being blown up by a terrorist bomb on the plane. Which way would you rather go?

4. Punish the banksters who gambled with our economies and almost bankrupted the western world. Apart from a few cases of common fraud such as Bernie Madoff there have been no major investigations and punishment of those traders, CEO’s and banksters that over leveraged, engaged in ridiculous amounts of betting by purchasing naked credit default swaps and inflated a derivatives bubble that is potentially worth more than 20 times the size of the whole world economy. When the common man in the street goes into the bookies to place a flutter or two and goes home empty pocketed he can expect nothing more than a good ear bashing from the wife, however when the banksters betted away trillions and lost they went running straight to the governments to ask for a bailout which was dually given.

In an alternate universe where logic and reason are applied equally and a certain level of moral behaviour is expected this would be considered dangerous, illegal and totally immoral. We the people are now having to suffer extreme austerity measures and forgo wages, benefits, pensions and other public services so that our governments can pay off the huge debts they incurred when they borrowed the trillions they bailed the banks out with.

This is wrong on so many levels and no wonder UK students went on a mini rampage at Tory HQ the other week when they were told that to help pay off someone elses debts they would be expected to incur their own massive debts and leave university with not only a degree that has become more and more worthless over the years but a huge weight of debt around their necks that will take years to pay off. Banksters need to go to jail and the rich fuckwits that got us into this mess should be removed of responsibility so that they can never repeat the same mistake as well as being asked to pay a whole lot more than they currently are.

5. Stop bailing out failed industries and businesses and restore something that resembles a free market capitalist economic system. For those banks we have already bailed out then we should make the most of them and use them for the benefit of society as a whole. Instead of letting all the pin striped fancy braced gambling addicts risk savers and tax payers money on the derivatives market we should be risking money on new start ups and the expansion of existing small and medium businesses.

Companies are still complaining about not being able to get loans from banks and if we want the private sector to pick up the slack from the public sector we need to ensure that sufficient capital exists for businesses to expand and hire. Surely it is better to risk a few hundred grand of the banks money on a small companies business plan that would provide local jobs and hopefully bring more tax revenue into the government coffers than risk millions playing the big roulette wheel in the city that benefits a few already super rich and if it goes wrong costs the tax payer.

6. Re-Balance our economy so that it is not so dependent on debt driven consumer spending (which both the UK and the USA encouraged) and instead drive growth by promoting business friendly policies that benefit ourselves rather than China or India. For large companies that are debating over where to place their headquarters we should be offering tax breaks so that they are encouraged to base themselves here and pay their tax to us rather than to a Bahamas offshore account. For every local person employed, every lo ng term jobless person or ex prisoner or service man they should be offered a tax break to encourage the hiring of nationals who may have had trouble working for years.  If the company bases itself in a deprived or heavy public sector dependent area then they should be given even bigger tax breaks. When it comes to tax less is often more and an uncomplicated and business friendly tax system is required to drive private sector growth.

7. Keep some promises. It’s quite simple really, if you don’t think you will be able to 100% deliver a promise then don’t make it in the first place! We are all used to seeing politicians evade difficult questions when being interviewed or asked questions they don’t know the answer for so we are used to the “maybe if we can” perspective. What we despise even more than an evasive politician though is one that breaks his promises and goes back on his word. It is far better to promise nothing than to promise the earth and deliver hot air.

Nick Clegg and Obama both ran their election campaigns on the platform of change and trust and doing so they inspired new generations of voters to become engaged in a political system that most older voters had already become jaded with. To deliver any form of change that we can believe in we must actually see the change occur otherwise this new generation will just join the rest of us who realise that our current political process is broken and incapable of delivering anything apart from cushy jobs and privelleges for those that get elected.

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