Thursday, 21 February 2019

"Politics is Broken" and guess what? Only they can save us!

The 11 (and counting) squatter MPs are all pushing this populist "politics is broken" trope as hard as they can, and positioning themselves as the heroic saviours.

In this article I'm going to look at the absolute chaos this "politics is broken" trope has already unleashed in three other major economies, before looking at the squatter MPs and their Independent Group (AKA 'Tinge') in more detail.

What I'm not going to do is argue that politics isn't broken. Britain wouldn't be in this farcical Brexit shit-show if the political establishment class hadn't put us here, and anti-vaxxers, grifters, and smarmy charlatans would never have got their hands on the levers of power in Italy, the United States, and France had their political systems not been flawed enough to allow them to either.

The point is that just because someone is repeatedly saying "politics is broken" doesn't mean you have to unquestioningly accept the way they position themselves as the only possible saviours.


The Five Star Movement is a populist anti-politics political party founded in 2009 by the stand-up comedian and polemicist Beppe Grillo.

This party has used the big tent political strategy to build a disparate coalition of all kinds of people with eurosceptics, anti-globalists, direct democracy advocates, and anti-vaxxers making up several of their core demographics.

Initially attractive to people on the left for their anti-establishment, environmentalist, and direct democracy advocacy, it soon became clear that this party was shifting rapidly towards the extreme-right.

This rightwards shift became absolutely indisputable when the 5 Star MEPs in the European Parliament joined Nigel Farage's rag-tag band of far-right eurosceptics in 2014, but unfortunately, as in Britain, Italians pay very little attention to the internal machinations of the European Parliament, so this collusion with far-right fanatics and outright fascists went virtually unnoticed.

The March 2018 Italian General Election was the huge M5S breakthrough moment, they won the most votes and landed enough seats to make them kingmakers in the Italian parliament. In May 2018 they created a coalition with the fascist party Lega Nord bringing fascism back to the Italian government for the first time in decades.

Since then the popularity of Five Star has waned (although they're still extremely popular with the anti-vaxxer movement for the radical anti-science policies they've enacted) while the fascists they enabled into power have soared in popularity from the 3rd most popular party to by far the most popular.

So the lesson from Italy is clear: Vote for the "politics is broken" populists and get anti-vaxxers and fascism.

United States

I'm pretty sure I don't need to explain all that much about the last few years in US politics.

Donald Trump used "politics is Broken" style populism to position himself as the ideological saviour who was going to "drain the swamp" and "bring the jobs back" to places like the rust belt.

People believed him, he got elected, he immediately filled the top administration jobs with more Wall Street bankers, corporate stooges, and inherited wealth billionaires than any government in US history, then he set about attacking the health care and social security systems, and then he implemented the biggest tax handout for the mega-rich ever.

Nothing for the little people who voted him into power, and a massive windfall for his mega-rich mates. Who would have thought such a thing could happen when you elect billionaire from the international speculator class as your President?

So the lesson from the United States is clear: Vote for the "politics is broken" populists and get Trumpism.


The situation in France is by far the most analogous to what's currently happening in Britain.

Emmanuel Macron was a right-wing neoliberal who embedded himself within the centre-left socialist party. 

As minister of economy and finance in the socialist government he set about implementing spectacularly unpopular labour reforms that triggered mass protests and trashed the government's popularity.

After destroying the socialist government from within he walked away to set up a shiny new "centrist" party called En Marche which used the whole "politics is broken" and "we are the saviours" schtick to great effect.

What better way to sell neoliberalism to the public than point out all of the failings of neoliberalism (several of which you were personally involved with), then present yourself as the shiny new alternative?

The problem of course is that when you promise people change, but then deliver more of the same but even worse in the form of massive tax cuts for corporations and the mega-rich, fuel price increases loaded on the poor, even more ideological attacks on labour rights, deeply unpopular education reforms, and significantly collapsing living standards - people tend to get angry.

And when the French get angry they don't just unthinkingly vote in favour of a massive act of national self-harm and then grovellingly re-elect the bastards who trashed their living standards in the first place like us Brits do. They revolt, they protest, they riot.

France has been wracked by 14 consecutive weeks of mass protests and Macron has gone from winning the Presidency and an absolute landslide in the French parliament, to being the most unpopular President in French history with an approval rating only slightly better than cancer.

The most incredible thing about it is that he's managed to nose-dive his Presidency and reduce his nation to mass protests, riots, division, police brutality, and chaos in significantly less than two years!

So the lesson from France is clear: Vote for the "politics is broken" populists and get absolute bloody chaos.


So the Independent Group ('Tinge') parliamentary squatters are pushing the exact same rhetoric as these other populist movements. "Politics is broken", and guess what? Only they can save us!

The problem of course is that every single one of them is an establishment insider to the core, with several of them being particularly to blame for the current shit-show.

Before the EU referendum Chuka Umunna added fuel to the anti-EU bonfire by fulminating against Freedom of Movement and scapegoating European immigrants. Now he actually expects us to believe him when he positions himself as the glorious saviour to the Brexit mess that he actually helped to create by actively turning Labour Party members against free movement!

Mike Gapes, Joan Ryan, and Ann Coffey are all responsible for the thing that created the biggest ever rift in trust between British people and the Westminster political establishment class. Despite the biggest public protests in British history in 2003, these people voted in favour of the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq on the grounds of terrifying Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Hundreds of thousands died, millions were displaced, these terrifying WMDs were never found because they didn't exist, and Iraq was turned into a lawless terrorism breeding ground that eventually gave birth to the monstrosity of ISIS.

To make matters even worse these warmongers all repeatedly voted against holding an inquiry into their disastrous invasion and occupation of Iraq, and all hate Jeremy Corbyn on the basis that he was absolutely right that Iraq was going to be a disaster, and because they simply can't bear to admit that they have the blood of hundreds of thousands of people on their hands.

Anna Soubry is one of the three Tories to have joined the squatters citing her opposition to Brexit as a factor in her decision, but incredibly she actually voted in favour of Theresa May's hard-right EU Withdrawal Act in January 2018 while Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour front bench opposed it! Some brave and principled Brexit saviour eh?

Perhaps the most telling thing of all is that all 11 of the squatter MPs are either austerity-enforcers who actually voted in favour of the ruinous Tory austerity dogma that trashed British living standards and created the massive wave of public anger that drove Brexit narrowly over the winning line, or they're austerity abstainers from the right-wing fringe of the Labour Party who actually turned a blind eye to the suffering of millions of their fellow citizens to sit on their hands as the Tories voted though the biggest package of social security cuts in British history in 2015.

Anyone who imagines that this opportunistic group of pro-austerity fanatics, ideological contortionists, self-serving opportunists, and unrepentant warmongers from deep within the ranks of the political establishment class is going to fix our "broken politics" and lead a glorious British revival is clearly working at the same extraordinary level of delusion as those who voted in favour of Brexit thinking a Tory administered abandonment of the EU would immediately turn the UK into the land of milk and honey for all.

But the worrying thing is that there is already a lot of support for this fake political party (established as a private company in order to evade scrutiny of their financial affairs) with no policies, no members, no internal democracy, no leader, no respect for the people in their constituencies, and no disciplinary procedures for bigoted MPs who spout racist nonsense on the TV!

It's looking a lot like the shiny but empty promise of Macronism all over again, built by another bunch of hopeless charlatans desperately trying to keep orthodox neoliberalism alive by rebranding it as a wonderful new form of 'centrism' that will somehow miraculously "fix our broken politics".

Unfortunately this blatant con trick has been shown to work effectively in other major economies with predictably disastrous results, so only the complacent would imagine that it couldn't possibly work here too.

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Josh k said...

Very clearly expressed summary of reality. Needs to be stated as often as possible with MSM doing everything to dustort reality in order to build the public support for the charlatans.

JMonaghan said...

As a line in the 1943 (re-released in an extended version in 1947) anti-fascism short film 'Don't Be a Sucker' goes:

"Somebody's going to get something out of it, and it isn't going to be you."