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The Malign Incompetence of the British Ruling Class
Describing Britain’s calamitous exit from its Indian empire in 1947, the novelist Paul Scott wrote that in India the British “came to the end of themselves as they were” — that is, to the end of their exalted idea about themselves. Scott was among those shocked by how hastily and ruthlessly the British, who had ruled India for more than a century, condemned it to fragmentation and anarchy; how Louis Mountbatten, accurately described by the right-wing historian Andrew Roberts as a “mendacious, intellectually limited hustler,” came to preside, as the last British viceroy of India, over the destiny of some 400 million people.

Britain’s rupture with the European Union is proving to be another act of moral dereliction by the country’s rulers. The Brexiteers, pursuing a fantasy of imperial-era strength and self-sufficiency, have repeatedly revealed their hubris, mulishness and ineptitude over the past two years. Though originally a “Remainer,” Prime Minister Theresa May has matched their arrogant obduracy, imposing a patently unworkable timetable of two years on Brexit and laying down red lines that undermined negotiations with Brussels and doomed her deal to resoundingly bipartisan rejection this week in Parliament.

Such a pattern of egotistic and destructive behavior by the British elite flabbergasts many people today. But it was already manifest seven decades ago during Britain’s rash exit from India.
by:PankajMishra  from:TheNewYorkTimes  Brexit  imperialism  geo:BritishRaj  EarlMountbatten  DavidCameron  TonyBlair  TheresaMay  BorisJohnson  geo:UnitedKingdom  geo:Ireland  partition 
january 2019 by owenblacker
The lies and liars of Brexit
I generally see politicians as just as weak and flawed and human as anyone else – no better than the rest of us, but no worse either. But while we all make mistakes, all sometimes lack a little courage, I find it hard to forgive lying. Especially deliberate, persistent and – most of all – consequential lying. And that is really what the Brexit mess is all about: lying. Pretty much everyone involved in this whole sorry mess is lying about something, and sometimes about more than one thing.

It’s hard to know where to begin with the list of lies and liars, but I suppose my old chum David Cameron is as good a start as any. He lied about Europe and immigration: he knew very well it wasn’t the poison that the liars of Ukip said it was. But instead of challenging the lies, he went along with them, then lied by suggesting he believed Britain’s EU relationship was fundamentally flawed, when in fact he knew it worked fairly well. Then he lied about how much he could achieve by renegotiating that relationship, and lied about how much he’d actually achieved in that renegotiation. Then he fought a referendum offering an end to the EU membership that he’d just (falsely) told the electorate was rubbish.
by:JamesKirkup  from:TheSpectator  Brexit  politics  BorisJohnson  DavidCameron  TheresaMay  propaganda 
december 2018 by owenblacker
Brexit is a class betrayal. So why is Labour colluding in it?
This much we know: whatever the stories of the millions of people who ended up backing it, Brexit originated in the failure of successive Conservative leaders to adequately deal with a tribe of uncontrollable Tory ideologues, and in the ingrained tendency of post-Thatcher Conservatives to play fast and loose with the livelihoods and security of the rest of us. In an awful instance of irony, the misery and resentment sown by the deindustralisation the Tories accelerated in the 1980s and the austerity they pushed on the country 30 years later were big reasons why so many people decided to vote leave. What also helped was a surreal campaign of lies and disinformation, both during and after the referendum campaign, waged by entitled people with their eyes only on the main chance.

These things are part of a vast charge sheet not only against the modern Conservative party, but an alliance of old and new money that has set the basic terms of British politics for the past 40 years. Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson were educated at the same exclusive school as the prime minister whose idiotic decision to hold a referendum gave them their opportunity. Nigel Farage and Arron Banks are archetypal examples of the kind of spivs who were given licence to do as they pleased in the 80s. For all their absurd bleating about “elites”, we all know what these people represent: the two faces of the modern English ruling class, who have long combined to be nothing but trouble.

Which brings us to the question that, for all my lingering ambivalence, I cannot shake off: if the Labour party leadership is so radical, and allied with the best leftwing traditions, where is its anger about what these people have done?
by:JohnHarris  from:CommentIsFree  Brexit  austerity  class  Labour  geo:UnitedKingdom  ArronBanks  NigelFarage  BorisJohnson  DavidCameron  JacobReesMogg 
november 2018 by owenblacker
Thread by @tfoale: "Adam, let me present you with some comparative economics, and then you tell me whether ANY Tory (and […]"
Twitter thread for anyone foolish enough still to think Thatcher's economics (and Cameron's, and to some extent Blair's) were anything other than catastrophically bad for Britain or that Brexit is even slightly a good idea.
by:ThomasFoale  from:Twitter  economics  politics  MargaretThatcher  DavidCameron  TonyBlair  GordonBrown  Brexit  geo:UnitedKingdom 
august 2018 by owenblacker
RT : Never forget that destroyed Britain's future by gutting the social safety network, fanning the flames…
davidcameron  from twitter
january 2018 by kcarruthers
Ken Clarke says David Cameron did "some sort of deal" to win Rupert Murdoch's support
"Quite how David Cameron got the Sun out of the hands of Gordon Brown I shall never know," the veteran Tory MP said. "Rupert would never let Tony [Blair] down because Tony had backed the Iraq war. Maybe it was some sort of a deal. David would not tell me what it was. Suddenly we got the Murdoch empire on our side."

He continued: "We won in 2010 and I found myself justice secretary, lord chancellor. Within a week or two we had got Andy Coulson on board – I think he was Murdoch’s man, that was part of the deal I assume – as the press officer. I am not being totally indiscreet. Nobody seemed bothered by it very much."

Clarke made the comments earlier this month while giving evidence to the Competition and Markets Authority investigation into Murdoch's bid to take full control of the broadcaster Sky, but they have only just been released.
The Tory politician went on to describe efforts by senior management at Murdoch's UK news operation to introduce prison ships.

"Within a few weeks of taking over my prime minister arranged a meeting with Rebekah Brooks. Rebekah Brooks described herself as running the government now in partnership with David Cameron. I found myself having an extraordinary meeting with Rebekah who was instructing me on criminal justice policy from now on, as I think she had instructed my predecessor, so far as I could see, judging from the numbers of people we had in prison and the growth of rather exotic sentences.

"She wanted me to buy prison ships because she did accept that the capacity of the prisons was getting rather strained, putting it mildly, it was not the way I described it."
by:JimWaterson  from:Buzzfeed  KenClarke  RupertMurdoch  RebekahBrooks  DavidCameron  Conservatives 
november 2017 by owenblacker
RT : The sad irony being that the architect of the chaos in Libya was whose family made their fortune in t…
davidcameron  from twitter
november 2017 by findingmarbles
Britain is still a world-beater at one thing: ripping off its own citizens
Across the UK there are more than 700 PFI projects with a capital value of around £55bn. It is estimated that they will cost the public more than £300bn.

These are all examples of the public losing control – over our bills, over our taxes, over our water and trains and schools. Will freeing ourselves of the shackles of the European court of justice or EU state aid rules or any other Brexiteer hobbyhorse allow us to “take back control”? On the basics that govern our lives we have lost sovereignty. Brussels didn’t sell us down the river: Thatcher, Blair and Cameron did.
by:AdityaChakrabortty  from:CommentIsFree  economics  politics  geo:UnitedKingdom  TonyBlair  GordonBrown  MargaretThatcher  DavidCameron  neoliberalism  privatisation 
august 2017 by owenblacker
Britain: The End of a Fantasy
Brexit is a back-of-the-envelope proposition. Strip away the post-imperial make-believe and the Little England nostalgia, and there’s almost nothing there, no clear sense of how a middling European country with little native industry can hope to thrive by cutting itself off from its biggest trading partner and most important political alliance.

May demanded a mandate to negotiate—but negotiate what exactly? She literally could not say.


But to be fair to May, her wavering embodied a much deeper set of contradictions. Those words she repeated so robotically, “strong and stable,” would ring just as hollow in the mouth of any other Conservative politician. This is a party that has plunged its country into an existential crisis because it was too weak to stand up to a minority of nationalist zealots and tabloid press barons. It is as strong as a jellyfish and as stable as a flea.


May will form a government with the support of the Protestant fundamentalist Democratic Unionist Party from Northern Ireland. That government will be weak and unstable and it will have no real authority to negotiate a potentially momentous agreement with the European Union. Brexit is thus far from being a done deal: it can’t be done without a reliable partner for the EU to negotiate with. There isn’t one now and there may not be one for quite some time—at least until after another election, but quite probably not even then.
by:FintanOToole  from:TheNewYorkReviewOfBooks  Brexit  GeneralElection2017  TheresaMay  DavidCameron  BorisJohnson  geo:UnitedKingdom  politics 
june 2017 by owenblacker
Theresa May rejected the Tory detoxification project. That’s what’s behind this mess
Detoxifying the Tory party would prove to be as painful as detoxifying your gut. And like any other cleanse, a short-cut could only ever be self-defeating. Before he moved on to literal detoxes, Gove was one of the few who grasped this instinctively: in 2001 he co-edited an essay collection, A Blue Tomorrow, that addressed the Tories’ enthusiasm gap in depth. In one essay, the pollster Andrew Cooper lamented the “remarkably large number of people who can’t, or won’t, accept the truth of how we are seen by others, or the reality that this means the party must change fundamentally or die”. These included the “Millwall tendency” (“Nobody likes us and we don’t care”); the “flat-earthers” (“people who deny, in the face of all empirical evidence, that the Conservative party is at crisis point”) and “the face-lift faction” (those who advocate cosmetic change). All were standing in the way of detoxification.

Sixteen years and four prime ministers later, Cooper’s three toxic tribes have all left their mark on the Conservative party. Gove may have been the great moderniser hope, but his move to the Department of Education and his obvious delight in antagonising the teaching profession soon transformed him into the Millwall-Tory-in-chief (“the blob don’t like me and I don’t care”). David Cameron, of course, was the “face-lift faction” personified: giving his party a new eco-green logo but still surrounding himself with Old Etonians. As for the flat-earth faction: they are everywhere.
by:KateMaltby  from:CommentIsFree  Conservatives  TheresaMay  DavidCameron  MichaelGove  LyntonCrosby  DavidDavis  PritiPatel  DominicRaab  ZacGoldsmith  detoxification  GeneralElection2017 
june 2017 by owenblacker
The summer of discontent: Britain’s election offers little respite for its woes
The Germans have a word for it: Geschichtsmüdigkeit, a weariness of history. The British were weary enough when Theresa May called a surprise general election on April 18th. It is just two years since the country’s previous general election, and less than a year since the divisive referendum that saw it decide to quit the EU; in 2014 a referendum in Scotland also put the future of the United Kingdom to the vote. A monumentally dispiriting campaign has only deepened the weariness. Tedious as it all is, though, history is being made.

Brexit is the obvious reason. Whether it is Theresa May, the Conservative incumbent, who started from a position of strength but has campaigned poorly, or Jeremy Corbyn, the left-wing Labour leader, the winner will be forced to reshape Britain’s place in the world in highly adverse circumstances. The next government will also have to re-examine domestic policies on everything from financial regulation to fisheries as Brussels’ writ comes to its end.

n has been dominated by neoliberalism, a creed that sought to adapt some of the tenets of classical 19th-century liberalism to a world in which the role of the state had grown much larger. It emphasised the virtues of rolling back that state through privatisation, deregulation and the reduction of taxes, particularly on the rich; of embracing globalisation, particularly the globalisation of finance; of controlling inflation and balancing budgets; and of allowing creative destruction full rein.

At this election, for the first time since the 1970s, that philosophy has no standard-bearer.
from:TheEconomist  politics  geo:UnitedKingdom  neoliberalism  NewLabour  MargaretThatcher  TonyBlair  economics  industry  Brexit  DavidCameron 
june 2017 by owenblacker
British voters look like they’re rejecting Santa and embracing Scrooge. Why? | Jonathan Freedland | Opinion | The Guardian
Theresa May’s motive in channelling her inner Ebenezer is uncomplicated. She knows she’s going to win, so she wants a mandate – permission to make the moves she believes will be necessary over the next five or even 10 years in government. For that, she needs to shake off the commitments made by David Cameron in 2015 that were designed simply to win an election (and which he doubtless expected to bargain away in a coalition agreement). May’s manifesto is proof that you make very different promises if you know you’re going to have to keep them.
Now many of us may well insist, to our last breath, that the crash was made on Wall Street not Downing Street, and that if anything, Gordon Brown handled a global crisis with great skill. But, thanks in part to the relentless message discipline of Cameron and George Osborne, the settled view is that Labour messed up by spending too much.

You’ll note that I have not even mentioned the name of Jeremy Corbyn. That’s because this is a Labour problem, not just a Corbyn one. It would have bedevilled Yvette Cooper or Andy Burnham too. It predates even Brown, with roots in the 1970s, the IMF crisis and the “winter of discontent”. Unfair it might be – tirelessly pushed by a rightwing press, most certainly – but a near fixed point of British politics is the assumption that while Labour’s heart is in the right place, it cannot be trusted to run the economy.
by:JonathanFreedland  from:CommentIsFree  economics  politics  geo:UnitedKingdom  JeremyCorbyn  JohnMcDonnell  DianeAbbott  GordonBrown  DavidCameron  TheresaMay 
may 2017 by owenblacker
To Understand ‘Brexit,’ Look to Britain’s Tabloids
“Undoubtedly, we fed people’s enthusiasm,” Mr. Gallagher said. But, he added, “the idea that we can somehow drag otherwise unwilling readers to a point of view that they don’t otherwise have is delusional.”

Roy Greenslade, a former features editor at The Sun, disagreed. In 1975, he said, the last time Britain held a referendum on membership in what was then the European Economic Community, and a time when polls suggested that most people wanted to leave, all papers (except the communist Morning Star) campaigned to stay. People voted to stay.

“Every populist editor will tell you, ‘We are merely reflecting and articulating the public views,’ ” said Mr. Greenslade, now a journalism professor at City University of London. “But they are publishing inaccuracies and distortions which help people to feel the way they’re feeling.”
from:TheNewYorkTimes  by:KatrinBennhold  propaganda  journalism  geo:UnitedKingdom  politics  Brexit  TheSun  RupertMurdoch  TonyGallagher  BorisJohnson  MartinFletcher  RebekahBrooks  TheresaMay  DavidCameron  LizGerard  KelvinMacKenzie  RoyGreenslade 
may 2017 by owenblacker
The coming British bloodbath: Theresa May’s “snap election” will be an epic disaster for the left. But why?
The Labour Party has gone horribly wrong in the way that a great deal of parties full of well-meaning progressives go horribly wrong. You know the parties I mean. You’ve been there for half an hour and the unspoken personal drama is thick in the air and everyone is drinking way too much to forget about it, and everyone has a different plan for what to do with the evening, and the hosts are making a series of increasingly terrible decisions and you can’t leave because you’ve given them your keys and part of your heart.

You watch the whole thing get messier and messier because everyone deeply believes in the idea of the party and wants to make it work, and you have the vague impression that people are doing horrible things to one another in the back bedroom and you don’t want to hear about it because that might make you complicit. People stoned on bad theory and romantic resentment are arguing over the soundtrack, shuffling between the power playlist and the principles playlist and ending up with a jarring mashup that nobody can dance to. Fights break out over whose job it is to go to the store for more booze and snacks. Nobody is actually having a good time, but if we just see it through to the end, if we just keep believing, we might have one eventually, and by the time it starts getting light it’s way too late to see off the hangover or the crawling understanding that some people are just determined to sabotage themselves, and belief is not enough by itself to keep your friends alive. I don’t want to go to that party again.

But the only other option is May’s Conservative Party, which is the sort of party Milton Friedman might have thrown if he’d ever seen Stanley Kubrick’s “Eyes Wide Shut” — a slimy shindig full of rich white people wearing expensive human masks, where if you’re not on the guest list you’ll end up serving the drinks while the rest of them smash up what’s left of the furniture, and you just know that by the end of the night you’ll end up getting ineptly screwed by some hedge-fund manager who can’t stop crying and calling you mother. I don’t want to go to that party either. Please don’t make me.

The major party animals are prowling for another round, but the rest of us just want to go home. We’re exhausted, we’re sick of parties, and we want to go home. That’s more or less what everyone voted for in the Brexit referendum last June, but unfortunately a lot of people imagined “home” as a fantasy village in the 1970s where everyone has a well-paid factory job, the health care system works, there are no immigrants living next door, women know their place, pork pies grow in every front garden and all the woodland creatures sing the national anthem in harmony, including the verse about slaughtering Scotsmen. Nobody wants this election, but it’s happening anyway, because nobody has the energy to complain anymore. Seven years of Tory austerity saw to that.
by:LauriePenny  from:Salon.com  Brexit  GeneralElection2017  labour  JeremyCorbyn  TheresaMay  austerity  DavidCameron  LyntonCrosby  Conservatives 
april 2017 by owenblacker
Steve Hilton: 'I’m rich, but I understand the frustrations people have' | Politics | The Guardian
David Cameron’s former blue-sky thinker says the rise of populism is due to the super-rich’s inability to put themselves in the shoes of those less well off – before accepting a free cab ride and becoming lost for words about his own wealth
SteveHilton  profile  review  critique  DavidCameron  Guardian  2017 
april 2017 by inspiral
Britain is in chaos – and now the Tories may destroy the union | Owen Jones | Opinion | The Guardian
"for the next few years British politics is going to resemble a shouty Tory party conference fringe event on the EU"
politics  brexit  davidcameron  georgeosbourne  conservative 
march 2017 by benterrett

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