The True Enemy

Cameron, not that sad excuse for a man Clegg, is the real threat to the UK

There’s been a lot of political anger floating around the internet this week. This blog has carried a fair bit of it too. In the wake of the tuition fee travesty, and a host of other assaults on social equality and justice, the Lib Dems have borne the brunt of it.

It’s hardly surprising. The Liberal Democrats are the ones who are keeping the Tories in power. The majority of Coalition policies being enforced are directly contrary to everything the Lib Dems campaigned for in the 2010 Election. (Interestingly, it’s fun to take a look at the Liberal Democrat Manifesto 2010, and try to spot the parts that are actually to be implemented. It’s like a political game of “Where’s Wally?”). People feel deceived by the Lib Dems, and the excuses that “Oh, we didn’t know how bad a state the country was in” and “You have to compromise in coalition government” are wearing thin, because yes they did know how bad it was, and for a compromise they seem to have gotten very little out of the deal.

People’s anger at the Lib Dems is entirely justified, let me make that clear. They lied. They’ve gone back on promises. But although they should carry their share of the blame for the economic and social vandalism that’s taking place at the moment, it’s important I think for us to remember that they aren’t alone in this. The main power, behind the yellow scapegoats, is the Tories.

And the Tories never lied about it. Not really. They said that they’d changed, that they weren’t the nasty party any more, but I don’t think any of us seriously believed that. For the most part, they were disgustingly up front about what they intended to do to our society, and the Lib Dem’s involvement has only given the opportunity to be more vicious.

It’s easy to attack the Lib Dems. They’re cowards. They’re weak. But the real power here, the force that it slashing public services, that is playing fast and loose with the economy, that is making the poorest in society pay for their misguided ideas, are the Conservatives. Whenever they’re in power, Conservatives cut. We saw it under Thatcher just as much as we’re seeing it now, and I can guarantee you that the Tories would still be cutting and cutting hard even without a recession and deficit as an excuse.

We (the people who believe that what is happening is wrong) can focus all our fire on the Liberal Democrats. We can tear them down as cowards, traitors to their principles, opportunists, liars. We can make sure they never win a seat again for the next generation. But the real danger is, and always has been, conservatism. Liberal Democracy is conservatism in a yellow jacket and a smug sense of superiority.

The next election will, whatever happens, be a straight slog between the left and the right. Labour and the Conservatives- the Lib Dems are effectively finished now. What is shaping up is an ideological battle the like of which we haven’t seen since the fall of Thatcher. And we, the left, need to start getting ready for it now if we’re to really win. We need to be tackling the Tories head on, not just rubbishing the Liberal Democrats. We need to make sure we remember who the true enemy is.

[Many thanks to Kieran Patel, for spotting my embarrassing mistakes]

The Post Man Cometh…

The Qur'an, translated to English by M. A. S. Abdel Haleem

It’s finally arrived. My copy of the Qur’an, ordered the other week, has finally arrived.

Ironically, it dropped through the door of my girlfriend’s house, after I forgot to check the address on my Waterstones order and just assumed it would be coming to my house. Fortunately, I was there this morning when it arrived, so all was well in the end.

For those of you who are curious, the version I’ve purchased is the Oxford World’s Classics version, translated by M. A. S. Abdel Haleem. I’m not educated about the different translations (bar what I’ve already read in the introduction), so if anyone better informed about me wants to give me pointers or comments on this, they will be very much welcomed.

So far, I’ve only read the introduction, and even that has been truly fascinating. It’s already but to bed several negative stereotypes of the Islamic faith, which I actually already thought were products of right-wing conservative ignorance. I feel like I’m learning, and I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into the text itself.

This started out of my annoyance at Pastor Terry Jones’ intention to burn the Qur’an in protest against the Ground Zero Mosque (not at ground zero, not a mosque). But actually, during the wait for it to arrive, another beast of ignorance has raised its head. Some of you will be familiar with Elizabeth Moon. Some of you will be familiar with her remarkably ignorant and offensive rant about Islam in the US. For those of you who aren’t, I’d heartily recommend reading this article about it, as well as following Lavie Tidhar’s Twitter feed.

Bigoted comments like those Moon made are not alright. They feed the hatred and misunderstanding that warmongering groups on both sides exploit to their own ends and agendas. This is why I am reading the Qur’an. Because I don’t believe that half the crap said by right-wing western fearmongers, or Islamic extremists is true, is actually in there. I don’t think that Islam is any more of a hateful and violent religion than any other religion.

To anyone else who shares this suspicion, I invite you to join me. I’ll be posting occasional blog entries updating all of you on what I’m finding with my readings, and this is an open invitation for anyone to join in. I welcome any and all comments and discussions, from Muslims and non-Muslims, as long as you don’t try to transform my exercise against hate as a way of extending it.

Labour Ist Für Alle Da

Why yes, the title of this blog entry is a pseudo-clever pun on the title of a Rammstein album, and yes, it does translate loosely as “Labour is there for everyone”.

Labour is there for everyone

My political allegiance aren’t really much of a secret. I’m a leftie. Loosely, a socialist. And also, a member of the Labour Party. I figured it was high time that I explained that; something as important as political stance shouldn’t be kept in the wardrobe, and brought out only at elections.

I joined Labour after the May election, honestly heartbroken at the results, and disappointed in the people of Britain. My basic reason for joining then was the realisation that I hadn’t done my bit to keep this coalition out of government. I think a lot of people felt the same, given the massive numbers joining the party in the weeks after the David Cameron took office.

But that’s not really an explanation is it? It’s why I paid the membership fee. It’s not why I’ve been so adamantly opposed to right-wing conservatism all my life. That’s a little more complicated.

I’ll start with by looking at phraseology. Have you ever noticed the names of the three major parties? The Conservatives. The Liberal Democrats. Labour. Spot the difference? Yes, it’s the word “the”. To me, that tells you everything you need to know about Labour. The Tories and the Lib Dems are organisations, institutions. Labour is more than that, more than just an association. Labour is a social movement.

To be honest, that’s the advantage that the left has always had over the right. Left wing politics may have been demonised over the

The red flag has been historically demonised, but actually it's the stalwart of the people's rights

last sixty-odd years by rampant US propaganda, but the truth is that it isn’t the barbaric ideology that a lot of people believe. Socialism rallies people for the greater good, for the advantage and benefit of society as a whole. And that’s where conservatism falls down. It’s harder to rally people to an individualist cause, because it comes across exactly as it is: selfish.

It’s no coincidence that the right-wing uses hate, fear and negativity to gain support. Just look at the Tories’ recent election campaign. It was always how Labour had destroyed the economy (false: the banking sector did that, and the Labour government’s quick response saved us from full-blown depression); how everything had to immediately be cut in order to save the economy (false: severe cuts have already resulted in the Bank of England downgrading economic forecasts, and today the IFS has condemned the Coalition budget as regressive); that immigration is destroying, rather than enriching, Britain.

The Labour government made mistakes, I won’t dispute that. But they did a hell of a lot of good. The minimum wage. Support for the poorest sectors of society. Investment in public services. Vital expansion of the NHS. Political reform, including House of Lords reform and devolution.

Those progressive measures aren’t something you’ll get from a right-wing that values the individual over society, and thus places intrinsic values on people based upon their personal wealth and standing. And given the current identity crisis the Lib Dems seem to be undergoing as the Tories’ puppets and scapegoats, Labour is the only solid representation of the left wing in British politics.

The conclusion to this little rant, is that Labour is for the people, and is the people. That’s what socialism is about. If Labour has made mistakes, if Labour has been heading down wrong avenues, then that can be changed. For all those who hate the injustice this new government will result in, Labour is the way forward. All of the positives achieved by Labour, or any left-wing party around the world, are because people saw that it was unfair, and decided to change things.

Yes, there is the Labour leadership election coming up soon (and I will be blogging about it nearer the time), so there is now a real chance to get involved, and to shape the future. Despite what the Tory press says, the candidates have a lot of interesting ideas to discuss and the more people who get involved, the more comprehensive, inclusive and effective the opposition will be- more than ample reason to take a look and consider joining up.

If the Tories, if the Coalition are not for you, you are not alone. Labour is there for everyone.