Thursday, 24 April 2014

Reading the Signs No. 3 – The Grasshopper Party

Although of necessity all serious political parties need to have a broad base of policies, covering every aspect of (especially national) government, the practice of jumping around between unconnected and disparate policies is in itself a useful sign for the alert among us.

The obvious example here is Labour – although it becomes even more apparent at local level than nationally – whose succession of completely disconnected policy initiatives shows not only a lack of a coherent and consistent policy manifesto, but betrays its true motives if one is watching all that they are doing and not just (say) the one item in which one has a particular interest.

The advantage of local government is that it exists many times over, so one can spot themes that are popping up all around the country: these turn out to be mostly Union-driven. They are dressed up to look local, such as "there are X Fixed Odds Betting Terminals in (for example) Medway" and "Medway has Y problem gamblers" – but if you look around, you'll find that exactly the same is happening elsewhere, with the place name and figures substituted to suit those places. The same happens time and again.

So, what is the common ingredient, the one and only common factor shared by all these 'policies'? It is purely and simply that they can all be used for party political advantage by Labour. The immediate clue is that they always but always end up as a way to 'bash the Tories'. Thus one can readily understand why these particular (often oddball, out of left field) matters have been chosen. They also need to be able to be 'sold' to the (largely compliant) local and – ideally – national media, for maximum impact. Labour are usually portrayed as 'the people's champions' against the 'wicked Tories'. It works as an easy sales-pitch, even though a lot of folk realise it isn't exactly being straight!

If there is no party political advantage for Labour in an issue, they will ignore it. If the reality reflects badly on their own previous record, they will sideline it and even attempt to re-write history, falling back on the oft-heard/read line "Isn't it time that old line were laid to rest?" or similar wording. Evasion is the last refuge of the guilty, as Mayor Salvor Hardin might have put it...

The important 'bottom line' here is that the clues are all there (as usual) for anyone paying proper attention; and the perpetrators of all the evasion, denial, manipulation and political maneuvering count on the (sad) fact that most people don't bother, and are content to be fed plausible-sounding lines from 'comfortable' sources such as The Guardian and the Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

I have spent years, here and elsewhere, getting people to think that bit more for themselves, so that they are at least a lot less likely to fall for the trickery It has been broadly successful; but recent developments affecting issues in which I was quite deeply involved, have shown how volatile it all is when some well-orchestrated scaremongering is perpetrated upon local residents.

In my days on the Council, the local folk would have been kept fully up to speed and given facts, not scare stories, things they could check for themselves, independently of me. now they have turned completely around and are being conned. The consequences of that will almost certainly be felt in next year's local council elections as they impact my former ward (incidentally, as I hinted at during the candidate selection some four years ago – but that is another story) and I don't think anyone is complacent about that outcome any longer.

This evening's Council meeting should reinforce that...

So: watching for the signs is the best way to be alert to what is really going on – but the vote of each of the ignorant is worth just as much as the vote of anyone who does have a real clue – and they are many more in the former category than there are in the latter.

No wonder a self-serving party like Labour specialises in their techniques: they know they will work for them. They wouldn't bother with them otherwise, and that is perhaps the biggest clue of all. As soon as you spot one of their manipulations or whatever, from then on the switch has been flipped and you know – for all time!

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