Jon Bigger looks at the fault lines which have been opening in the ruling classes’ united front, and has a suggestion to help them with their woes…
The ruling class is divided along several major issues at the moment, and the divisions are major. They are being torn in different directions as they try to deal with Brexit, tax havens and the sex pests among them. What we’re witnessing is the usual desperate efforts to try and brush everything bad under the carpet and carry on as normal as the UK’s bored population settles in to watch it on TV rather than getting onto the streets.
Anyone wondering why there hasn’t been a revolution yet might be forgiven for thinking that people don’t care. It’s more that none of this shambles actually surprises anyone anymore. Compounded to that we’re constantly being told that it isn’t the system that’s at fault but rather a few bad apples. In the case of Brexit the few bad apples is the entire European Union. I couldn’t care whether I live in a small state or a state within a state; I’m sick of Brexit and have been since before the referendum last year. One of the interesting things about it though is the way it came about as a simplistic mechanism for the Tory party to heal itself over Europe and shut down internal debate for a generation. Nobody thought to plan for the result they got. Then May calls an election and suddenly without a majority in the Commons the Tory splits on Europe are magnified. Every problem is magnified for a minority government. As May clings on to power, increasingly it looks like all she has to cling to is a dog’s Brexit.
When Michael Fallon resigned over sexual harassment claims key political figures were sure to explain that Britain had lost an excellent Defence Secretary. When Priti Patel resigned for holding secret meetings with Israeli officials the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, described her as a “first class Development Secretary.” On a BBC radio programme last Sunday the presenter John Piennar went to great lengths to talk about how the vast majority of people who go into politics have good intentions.
When the Paradise Papers were unleashed a series of rich and powerful people came out to explain that they hired the very best reputable accountants they could and they had no knowledge that they were avoiding tax. The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, has confidently said that the sexual harassment scandal surrounding Westminster is nowhere near as serious as the expenses scandal a few years ago. Yes, it’s apparently not as bad as the scandal they got away with last time. The framing of the debates when it comes to scandal is aimed at keeping the system intact and protecting as many people as possible in the hierarchy.
Power and hierarchy are of course the problems here. Just as we did with the expenses scandal, we expect the very people involved with the current messes to sort it all out. As if May and her cronies, as if Corbyn and his Momentum nutters have the ideas and the will to solve the problems of the UK. More importantly we, as in the public, are constantly appealing to those that harm us to harm us in a less detrimental manner. Hierarchy is so ingrained in our culture that it becomes the only option to clear things up. We need to realise that politicians only serve their own class interests, no matter how much jam they make, or how well meaning they are in their allotments. They will keep their power.
So when it comes to scandals what we get as a ‘solution’ is normally a new layer of bureaucracy; a group of people given extra powers. A new group of people we are told to trust because they are either ‘independent’ or above the people who were causing the problems. The idea is that the higher people get, the better they must be. It goes against all logic when we know just how ruthless and brutal those with power can become. The solution from our political class is nearly always more hierarchy. So here’s an idea for a new layer of bureaucracy that they would use if they had the guts and if they really wanted to weed out the sex pests and the corrupt. A permanent Truth Commission.
Here’s how it works. It sits to hear those in power from UK institutions, rich and powerful individuals and big business admit their crimes, corruption and fraud. Anyone can apply and if they do they have to submit all the information they have on what they did and why they did it, the loopholes they found in the law and how sorry they are for what they’ve done. The benefit for them is a cleaner conscience and where necessary a reduced prison sentence, fine or whatever. If they fail to do so and they are subsequently caught they face increased sentences.
This could apply as much to sex pests as it might to people breaking the ministerial code of conduct or to those who failed to ensure Grenfell Tower was safe. The point about it is that it would be transformative, particularly if it was run by citizen jury rather than some old judge who werre told is unimpeachable in character. Wouldn’t it be transformative to hear British politicians on live TV admitting they were on the take and that they’re, rather than the succession of apologists taking up broadcast time with their mealy mouthed bullshit?
Of course a Truth Commission won’t happen but it’s the only thing I can think of that would actually transform the British political system. They aren’t interested in that though. They’re just interested in power.