What happened to the world for Tony Blair to make sense?

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“Open v closed is a really important debate today, because in a curious way the populism of the left and the populism of the right – at a certain point they meet each other. They tend to be isolationist. OK, the left is more anti-business, the right is more anti-immigrant, but they tend to be protectionist and they have an attitude to the process of globalisation that says this is a policy that is given by government and we can stop it and should stop it. Whereas my view about globalisation is that it’s a force essentially driven by people, by technological change, by the way the world has opened up. You’re not going to reverse that. The question is: how do we make that just and fair? That is the big question of our times. The centre left does not provide an answer to that, and we can and should.” More at New Statesman.

The centre-ground of politics in the UK has been a nirvana over recent years with Labour rushing there to gain power in 1997 and then the Conservatives doing the same to take power back in 2010. Of course there was no point at which I was going to vote for the Conservatives, but now I find myself, like many others, disillusioned by the options open to me.

Jeremy Corbyn has many views that I agree with and at heart he is a man who has firmly stuck to his principles over decades of public service. This could also be said for Nigel Farage- two politicians who have strong beliefs and who push them in the face of reality at times. They are of course on very different sides of the political fence and it feels as though the latter is winning at the moment, or at least his side of the argument is winning.

We have the Conservatives in power in the UK, a likely right-wing government in France, a more than possible right-wing government in Germany and Trump. I have no idea what he stands for, but safe to say I find him and many of his views hard to stomach and at times downright racist. Sadly, however, his type of irrationality in terms of immigration and protectionism is growing and becoming more powerful around the world by the day.

And it’s all in the name of globalisation.

That is a dirty word for many people and quite rightly. Many of us have completely misunderstood the negative effects of a smaller world and the fact that large swathes of our Western populations are being left hung out to dry by goods that can be made much cheaper abroad (often by pseudo slaves) and the organisations who are only too happy to profit from these activities and who continue to mercilessly push the boundaries of what is acceptable in modern times.

It’s often impossible for some communities to benefit in any way from globalisation and so they look at other countries, at foreigners within their countries and at the establishment as the people who have caused their hardship. As I said, this is completely understandable, but it leaves emotional gaps that some will fill with notionally connected views that then turn into votes.

Politicians like Trump, Farage, Boris Johnson, Marine Le Pen and Ronald Gläser are only too happy to use the misfortunes of others to promote their appalling views and to fill the gaps that are less than connected. To be fair, Boris doesn’t have entranced views, he is just a right-wing politician who will jump on any bandwagon to grab power.

And then they lie. They tell lies until they no longer understand the truth and even when caught out, they have created such an emotional negativity among their supporters that it is all forgiven in the name of stopping foreigners continuing to ruin their lives. Pussy grabbing (Trump), £350 million saved per week by leaving the EU (Johnson, Farage etc etc), calling Churchill a war criminal (Gläser) and so many more quotes are simply left behind in the name of making the world bigger again and giving more power to the homeland.

It’s a completely misguided way to vote. It was proved that the poorer in our population voted to leave the EU. It is obvious that they will be worse off outside of the EU, but as long as Mr and Mrs foreigner are not here, it will all be OK. I know so many people who voted to leave the EU, normal intelligent people, and whose reasons make absolutely no sense at all. “We want to make our own laws / the country is full / we want it back how it was before the EU.” Seriously, grow up.

The blame for everything that is wrong in the UK was placed firmly on immigration in the run up to the referendum. Pensioners who voted overwhelmingly to leave forget that they are part of a golden generation who have cost the UK a fortune and who continue to see their incomes rise while workers and those on benefits continue to see theirs diminish. If you dare to discuss statistics that plainly show that immigration is financially a positive thing and that the economy needs these people, you will be faced with ‘anyone can make up stats’ etc etc. The problem is that there are no definitive stats to show that leaving the EU is beneficial, just soundbites and powerful words, but there are many, many sets of evidence to prove otherwise. None of this matters, however, because “We want our country back!” and you should conveniently “Not listen to experts.” And even if all of the evidence on either side is proved wrong, the vote was still undertaken without the evidence required to make an informed decision.

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In a way, I hope that France and/or Germany goes through what we have and that the EU ends up splitting apart because that is the best hope in the long run for the UK. It is selfish of course, but I don’t fancy our chances outside in a world where inward-looking politics is now in fashion. You can only protect your own nation if your neighbours are doing the same.

And so people like me look at politics today and have no-one to vote for which makes the idea of a new centre-ground party so attractive, or at best the only option. Blair will not be at the forefront because he is toxic, Clegg may have another try, but he is seen as a puppy so maybe David Miliband will return once and for all and do what he could have done a few years back. He is a bit of a red Tory, but perhaps that is what we in the UK need. The problem is that it would appear that the majority are now happy to vote on gut instinct, negative policies and an ethos that appeals to the worst in all of us.

Globalisation has been terrible for many people, but trying to change it is akin to stopping a cruise ship with a dingy. It’s all just noise and no amount of voting against a ‘natural’ development will stop it. We have the internet now, we have better transport than ever before and the world is a much smaller and more connected place than ever. Ultimately, the way forward is to compete and to not simply cut yourself off from what will only grow. It feels, however, like that is exactly what the UK and US are doing at the moment and that is far from a good thing.

Footnote-

More than 50,000 abusive and offensive tweets were sent celebrating Labour MP Jo Cox’s murder and lauding her killer, Thomas Mair, as a “hero” or “patriot” in the month following her death, prompting calls for the government to do more to tackle hate speech online.

According to researchers on the social media site, the tweets were sent from at least 25,000 individuals and have been interpreted by hate crime campaigners as a sign of an emboldened extreme rightwing support base… From The Guardian.



Categories: Politics

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