WORDS: Jacob Flaherty
I can’t remember a time in which the schism between the ruling elite and the mob has been more clearly portrayed as has been seen in the last fortnight. It has now reached the point where it is almost impossible to ignore the fact that those who are meant to represent democracy at its most fundamental level actually hold it in utter contempt. They give off a palpable disgust at the thought of actually being held to account by the people they quite clearly regard in much the same way a dog does it’s favourite toy, believing they have a God given right to play with us, bark at us and even shag us as they see fit while simultaneously being able to totally ignore us once they’ve had enough.
Increasingly it seems that democracy has just become some sort of ritualistic fantasy whereby the mob is allowed, and in fact encouraged, to play along as long as they don’t have a problem with the fact that ultimately the political destination is that right of centre neoliberal paradise where the oligarchy are free to influence national policy as they see fit. Both the handling of the EU referendum result (I refuse to call it by its catchy, cunt friendly blend) and the attempted coup against the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn have served to demonstrate this in no uncertain terms. It seems that as the electorate we’re free to make any choice we wish, as long as it’s the choice we were meant to make.
Let’s begin with the referendum. It was clear even just hours after the result was announced that we weren’t supposed to vote to leave the Union. Farage was wearing the expression of someone who’d convinced a family member to bet their life savings on England beating Iceland in the European Football Championships. Boris was wearing the expression I would have expected to see strewn across the face of that very family member that Farage had duped. And I’m positive that if you stared through Michael Gove’s pupils with enough determination you could actually see the little alien operating his cognitive functions properly shitting itself.
So why this reaction? Well because now all of that endless detritus that had made up the majority of the arguments from both campaigns would come under scrutiny. Had we voted as we should’ve done (or put another way, had the political elite not been so disconnected from the electorate and factored in the anti bureaucratic, anti establishment vote) then we could have trotted off into the sunset as though nothing had happened. Boris and the other leave brethren would have fought a gallant campaign and would live to fight another day, being able to blame the woes that are a direct result of the Tory austerity agenda on a faceless organisation based in Brussels all over again in the weeks, months and years to come. All of this disintegrated as a result of 51.9% of British nationals put their cross in the box.
Something as important as this referendum was allowed to be used as a political football to further the careers of a few due to the arrogance of the political elite and their belief that they have the ability to ultimately decide how we vote through dishonest campaign strategies. My gravest of worries is that despite this particular miscalculation on their part, for the most part, they are right. That there is in fact very little scope for keeping our government and indeed entire democratic process held to account due to the ever more cosy relationship that exists between the executive and the mainstream press. That furthermore, there is in reality very little difference between those that sit on opposite sides of the House of Commons and that their interests, more or less, are the same while being totally at odds with the vast majority of the electorate they represent.
And so we come to Corbyn. A man who appears to buck this trend. A man who claims less in parliamentary expenses than I have in loose change down the back of my sofa. I can just imagine his peers begging him to hop into their chauffeur driven jags instead of riding the bus home, in much the same way the corrupt cops begged Al Pacino in Serpico to take his fair share of the bribes to ensure their position wasn’t compromised. There’s no doubt that the Chilcot report is weighing heavy on the minds of the Blairites now trying to orchestrate this coup. However, the situation is also indicative of the climate of cynicism and entitlement that engulfs the politics of today. I read an article recently in the Independent by Hannah Fearn in which she said the country had “forgotten” how democracy works. You could almost sense the sneer as she wrote “there are those in the Labour party who think that, for the princely sum of £3, they have bought the right to control how the Parliamentary Labour Party... organises itself”. She makes the point that the Parliamentary Labour Party members are first and foremost held to account by their constituents, not Labour Party members. She goes on to say that due to Corbyn’s leadership being untenable due to his opposition in the party, he is damaging democracy by restricting the ability of the Labour party to present itself as credible opposition.
While I agree PLP members may be accountable to their constituents above others, there is no suggestion that it is the will of those people they purport to represent to oust the democratically elected leader of the party. In fact on the contrary, there seems to be increasing numbers of instances where we are seeing outrage from constituents regarding their MP’s treatment of Corbyn. Furthermore, the coup itself is exactly what has caused the Labour party to become potentially inefficient in opposition. To lay the blame for this at Corbyn’s door would be like sexual assaulting someone only to ring them up a day later to complain you’d contracted fucking herpes. It seems that it is not the public, more the detached PLP whom have forgotten how democracy works and that their career goals do not trump the rights of either their constituents or the members of their party to hold them to account.
In all of this it seems that the one discernible theme is a democracy to which we are not entitled but that we are given to play with from time to time in the same way a parent allows their child to play video games. Politicians play the role of guardians, deciding when we’ve had our fill and it’s time to settle and put the controller down for the night. Well fuck that. We’ve just discovered that if you mash the buttons in a certain order you get unlimited ammunition, and the night is young.