The Guardian reports that “David Cameron is leading a government with a “worryingly authoritarian streak” that is seeking to undermine the Labour party’s funding arrangements through the trade union bill.” It’s a pretty damning statement coming from Baron Kerslake, former Head of the Home Civil Service but its one that is becoming all too familiar in British politics today.
In essence, Kerslake’s furious attack confirms what many believe; that David Cameron, George Osborne & Co are effectively rigging the system to ensure that the balance of power is firmly tipped in their favour.
In early January, a confidential Labour party document affirmed that the party was facing an expected and quite sudden £6m drop in its annual income as a result of the changes to the political levy being introduced in the Conservative’s Trade Union Bill, making it impossible for it to maintain its current structure, staffing or offices. Income from affiliation fees could fall to as low as £1million.
In reality it means that Labour will lose around £35 million in funding over the lifetime of a parliament and the Bill has been described “as the most unfair alteration to political parties’ funding since the second world war and marks an end to a long-standing convention that issues of party funding are agreed on a cross-party basis. In reality it represents the most agregious abuse of power in office as it clearly sets out to stifle competition and create a one party state. Democracy is threatened.
This accusation is supported by evidence that the BBC was viciously intimidated by Tory officials at the last election, threatening widespread reforms such as radically changing the licence fee funding system. Tom Baldwin – Senior Advisor, Labour Party quite openly said;
“BBC executives and journalists have told me that there were regular, repeated threats from senior Tories during this election campaign about ‘what would happen afterwards’ if they did not fall into line. It is a disturbing suggestion that a democratically elected government would seek to stamp on and silence dissent from an independent broadcaster.” There “has been a long-standing campaign by the Conservative party, fueled by the commercial interests of sections of the press, to attack the world’s most successful state-funded public service broadcaster (the BBC) as a giant leftwing conspiracy”From here things start to get very dark indeed. The scrapping of university maintenance grants that enabled the disadvantaged to get to university is a good example. These individuals coming from poorer backgrounds are not Tory voters and probably never will be, so it’s not worth investing in them.
It’s the same with cutting the schools’ budget and “Pupil Premium”, for children from poor families.
Want the evidence for this. Former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg spoke out recently after a long silence about trying to allocate money to build social housing by the coalition government to help tackle the housing crisis. Cynically, the Prime Minister and Chancellor George Osborne rebuffed them with the stark message: “All it does is produce more Labour voters.”
With a mentality and approach to important social issues such as housing, education and social mobility being determined on the basis of votes; morality, integrity and justice within politics has been retired.
Another disgraceful example is how the Conservatives are manipulating the (negative) narrative in the banking industry. The Tories simply put their ‘man’ or woman in this case, in the top seat at the BBC. The Daily Mail even wrote “The woman who leads the BBC is being paid a staggering £10,000 a day by the scandal-hit bank accused of helping millionaires to avoid paying tax.” Appointing people like this is a clear conflict of interest – and that is being very charitable indeed. The Mail’s report is scathing.
Another demonstration of the emerging Conservative authoritarianism is this headline from the The Independent “Banning boycotts of Israel will protect Britain’s national security” – because the practice undermines “community cohesion” and Britain’s “international security”. Public authorities face “severe penalties” for daring to defy the government on ethical grounds. That says it all, the banning of ethical practice by anyone the government controls.
From the second world war the democratically elected representatives of local communities up and down the country have been able to decide how public money should be used. If they choose to take an ethical approach then that is what they have been elected for. Now a blanket directive will be imposed by central government.
Boycotts are vital to democracy and silencing its opposition goes counter to those principles. This is again evidenced by the so-called “Gagging Bill” passed by The Lords a few weeks ago. This is nothing more than the limiting of free speech on the run-up to an election. The government uses tax-payers money to fund certain charities and then threatens them if the same charities have something to say that is not complimentary to the Tory party.
All this comes from the centre. David Cameron said a few months ago “For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens ‘as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone.” By passing new laws to restrict free speech, even by those we don’t agree with is a very dangerous path. (Read this from The Intercept). Suddenly, Theresa May, the Home Secretary is wielding a de-facto veto over who may appear in British current affairs programmes. Where would this end?
She is planning on granting herself powers to tell places of learning who they may or may not invite to speak. Amid the crisis of free speech on the university campus – both from students themselves and from authorities – the government’s only response is to worsen the situation and join the ranks of those who would limit thought and debate.
More evidence comes from the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa). These were laws designed to apprehend dangerous terrorists from our streets. Anti-terrorism laws brought in by labour 15 years ago are now being used to hunt down unpaid speeding and parking fines, dog fouling and even under age sun-bed use and smoking bans. Where will this end?
The government has been accused of trying to rush through the controversial “snoopers charter” spy powers before the EU referendum campaign with no less than 86 amendments tabled, many rejected, that will lead to even greater surveillance powers over the British people. Again, given the form of the Tories, where will this end?
David Cameron’s internet porn filter seems to have some logic behind it, but in reality it’s just a censorship. Where will this end?
The government is seeking to shut down dissenting voices and this is a huge challenge to democracy itself which should clearly worry us all no matter what political tribe we belong to. One day, the Tories will lose an election and all these powers will be given free to the next government – whoever that may be. And the more extreme this government gets, the more extreme those that topple them will be.
Go back and read the first paragraph of this piece, it makes sense now. It is also a quote by Adolph Hitler.
Graham Vanbergen – truepublica.org.uk