Sunday, 15 September 2013

Faust & the Liberal Democrats

It is a long time since I wrote a blog. But the situation in this country has got so dire, I feel I must speak out once again. Take for instance the sad decline of the Liberal Democrats. As an ex-member of the Liberal Party, I remember fondly the earnest debates we had on nuclear disarmament, on climate change and global warming, on protecting a free health service and education system. Mighty debates that emphasised the quality of life, not its price. Contrast and compare the Liberal Democrats of today. Not one principle seems to be worthy of defence. On the contrary, Lib Dems appear to be falling over themselves in their eagerness to abandon whatever principles they may have once claimed in their manifesto. It started with the now infamous betrayal by Liberal Democrat MPs of their signed election pledge not to put up student tuition fees, indeed their solemn pledge to abandon tuition fees all together. After all what do student tuition fees achieve? The money still has to be found, but instead of straight forward government taxation, we now have a whole industry of get rich quick wide boys, saddling the next generation with a lifetime of debt that in many cases will never be paid off. It reminds me of the American folk song “Sixteen Tons” with the famous line, “another day older and deeper in debt”. Like the US coal industry of the 1930s, the conservative establishment, including now apparently, the Liberal Democrats, want to ensure the youth of Britain remain as wage slaves from the moment they enter the “Labour market”. Vince Cable says as much in his infamous U-turn speech of 15th July 2010 in Westminster, where he tries to justify the Lib Dem betrayal of their election promises. He said (& I quote) “You can’t measure in cash returns alone the transformation of the life opportunities of a working class child through a university education that raises their sights - and those of their children. Nonetheless, when students are faced with a bill, even one delayed, they will look to an economic return.”"> As I said saddling the next generation with a lifetime of debt, so that they have no option but to become wage slaves, lackeys of the conservative establishment. And the Neo-Cons have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. Unlike the generation who went to university at the same time as Vince Cable who looked out on the world and protested about injustice, such as in the Vietnam war; the modern student has to spend her or his time dealing with a cash flow crisis from the day they get accepted into university, forcing the focus inward to their own survival, instead of outward and the survival of our society. For make no bones about it, our society is fighting for survival against the onslaught of corrupt politicians, elected on false promises and led it seems by the former champions of individual liberty, the Liberal Democrats. Where were their principles when they agreed to abandon their decades old commitment to a fair electoral system (Single Transferable Vote or STV), which would have meant a parliament which represented the whole of society , not just the largest minority? Instead they were persuaded to put forward the discredited alternate vote system and then failed to campaign for even this change, apart from a few weeks of lack lustre debate. Where were Lib Dem principles when the Tories dropped the bombshell of wholesale privatisation of the NHS, a policy not even in the Conservative manifesto? Which has led to a system which has quadrupled the cost of administering the NHS, including an accountant for every clinical commissioning group, so that were previously there was just one Finance Director for the Primary Care Trust, there are now sixteen FDs, one for each of the CCGs. (Such is the shortage of Health Service accountants, they are also some of the highest paid in the country). Where were Lib Dem policies of local democracy, when schools are converted into Academies and taken out of Local Government control and put into the hands of big business? Where was the Lib Dem opposition to penalising disabled people and the less well off in society, when the Tories introduced their ridiculous bedroom tax? A policy akin to the 18th century window tax, when people bricked up their windows to avoid paying the tax. Today, we have legal battles to convert bedrooms into wheel chair storage areas or any other designation that is not a bedroom. Where were Liberal Democrat principles when usury loan companies like Wonga, charging exorbitant interest charges are allowed to prosper on the back of the poor, a situation in part created by the withdrawal of benefits and of this coalition’s tacit support for on-line betting? Where were Liberal Democrat principles and good sense when The Tories continued the discredited Private Finance Initiatives so favoured by Labour, which increased the costs of hospitals five fold and made even more profits for the discredited banks? Where were Liberal Democrat principles when the Bankers continued amassing their riches and to get off scot free from their theft of billions of pounds from the British taxpayer, after they were bailed out by dim witted politicians from all three Westminster parties? How many bankers have gone to jail so far? None and none will, even after this Coalition Government, (including the Liberal Democrats) quietly flog off the nationalised banks back to the bankers at a fraction of the cost it took to bail them out in the first place. The millions lost on the sale of Northern Rock to Virgin Money will be chicken feed in comparison. Nuclear power, nuclear weapons, fracking, the high speed rail link: the list of betrayed principles by the Lib Dems goes on and on, culminating this week with the indecent haste to flog off Royal Mail; despite the opposition of two thirds of the British public (as shown in a recent YouGov poll). The inevitable abandonment of universal postal services, with deliveries to thousands of rural locations being cut and higher than inflation price rises have elicited not a squeak of protest from the Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow. Once Liberals were proud protesters, shouting loud and long about injustice. Now the only protest we hear is the rather feeble complaints of former Liberal Democrat minister, Sarah Teather MP, who has decided not to stand at the next general election rather than stand up to her party leadership. Clearly the only goal the Liberal Democrat parliamentary party now has is to remain in Government. It probably does not matter whether it is in coalition with the Tories or Labour, these two parties’ policies being so indistinguishable and the willingness of the Liberal Democrats to abandon their principles so blatant, that it is the only real goal left for all the Westminster Parties. So sadly, the Liberal Democrats have at last joined the establishment, making the Faustian bargain and paying the price of their very soul.