Populism – Opium of the masses

‘Populism’ has now become the key aspect of winning an election. Over the past 2 years there have been multiple elections, throughout the West, that has seen popular candidates adopt this line of campaigning. This has largely included anti-establishment slogans, calling for a fairer political system and and highlighting how the average man is being neglected by the establishment. All this is termed populism and is used to tell the common man that their rights are not being met by conventional politics. Marine La Pen, Donald Trump, Jeremy Corbyn as well as the Dutch Geert Wilders have all played on populist rhetoric. It remains to be seen if such politicians can deal with the problems and challenges that the average man faces or if the problems can be ‘managed’ which inevitably leaves the average man worse off every election.

Unemployment, rising taxes and austerity measures are a few terms the average voter uses when discussing the problems of Broken Britain. Money is on the minds of everyone in Britain and despite the reduction in unemployment to 4.2% in May 2017, the figures reveal little about the situation across the country. For instance, the North-South divide remains with increased mechanisation and with the UK economy largely being driven through financial services. This has taken jobs away from the North down to the South. Coal workers, farmers and those working on mills have been left jobless and the divide seems to get bigger year on year. Despite governments using this as a strategy to gain votes, very little has been done to reduce the division. Attempts to make Birmingham and Manchester into financial centres have not had the lure as intended and London continues to be pushed as the main city for finance.

When looking at low level jobs, the ethnic Brit has also been “priced out” with the open border policy of the EU which has sent in workers who are cheaper for firms to hire. What was the solution suggested here? It was to pull out of the EU when in reality greater investment was needed in areas of education to match the skill set of the people in the predominant sector of the country. Lies were forged to make the case to leave the EU in order to gain quick wins where in reality schools and other education institutes continue to suffer under austerity measures. The same is also true for the NHS, which sees rising pressures and lack of funding despite promises being made year on year to increase funding and solve its problems. Instead of providing this funding, cuts are made all over, with the blame being put on migrants, NHS workers and other staff. The Junior Doctor fiasco is a clear reminder of how systematic problems are blamed on individuals.  This is all the while spending on foreign policy ventures amongst other unnecessary expenditure and whilst bankers continued to take more bonuses than ever before.

Think back to the 2010 general election where the Liberal Democrats blamed the establishment for making education a “privilege”, promising to scrap tuition fees only to increase them to £9000 as part of the coalition. As is the norm in Capitalist societies, the gap between the rich and the poor continues to grow. The poor remain poor with many old people unable to pay their winter bills and the phenomena of “employment poverty” becoming a norm. The poor are seen as the scrounges of society and are continuously faced with austerity measures to “encourage” them to work when in reality, the cause for such a situation is systemic. State benefits are either slashed or tightened with harsh taxes being levied on lower earners whilst the rich are awarded tax breaks through politicians who are allowed to exploit large, gaping loopholes in the system which all resulted in a tax deficit of £35bn in 2013.

UK Elections: Politics for the many, or for the few?

UK Elections: Politics for the many, or for the few?

Posted by Hizb ut Tahrir Britain on Friday, 28 April 2017


Corbyn today and Sanders before have become symbols for this “new” politics and have been seen as the protector of the weak and the enemy of the rich. People have become disenchanted with the corruption present within the establishment and whilst the rhetoric adopted is to end such corruption, it is clear that the government does not represent the interests of the common man. The 2016 Panama Papers exposed a number of Conservative MPs and their offshore accounts whilst the rhetoric was to “take down” such individuals. Think back to 2010 where the “cash for influence” scandal made lobbying by interest groups to influence parliamentary behaviour an official part of the process.

Speaking of money, let’s not forget Britain’s “trusted” politicians who represent the interests of people and promise to help the poor. This is all the while claiming salaries of up to £110,000 a year for “representing the public” and being the centre of a scandal not too long ago. Their close connections with entrepreneurs and businesses are well known, such as the connection of the conservative party and the controversial Philip Green who took away millions of pounds whilst leaving BHS to be a burden on the Pension Protection Fund only to get a slap on the wrist by the government. It seems that changes to the system are only made after every loop hole is fully exploited.

This is alongside the plethora of connections between government and the so called “free press” where certain newspapers are given leeway to the publishing of material in exchange for supporting members of parliament. It was only in 2016 where the 96 killed in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster were absolved of blame after a systematic campaign of government, police and media who set out to forge news and lay the blame against the victims on that day. Human rights organisations have also found the government to be complicit in torture abroad with secret hearings and rights abuses around the world. War criminals like Tony Blair have been let off the hook with the Chilcot Report taking seven whole years to report everything that was already known by the common man.

Despite whistleblowers pointing out such injustices and promises from government to root out such issues, we have instead seen them sidestepping issues by letting those accused off the hook. Instead the corruption and manipulation in government is blamed on other institutions such as the EU who have “taken the sovereignty away from the people” or on certain “corrupt” individuals despite the issue being a problem with the institution. Issues such as Racism are brushed under the carpet with the blame being put on some “sour grapes”. It is clear that most political parties whether Labour, Tories or Lib Dem wish to maintain the current status quo with anyone seen to challenge it in the slightest become excommunicated by their own party members. Here it is important to also mention that those candidates who are seen as “different” offer just variations of the same solutions arising from the same Capitalist system. They call for a “softer” Capitalism where all the problems mentioned above remain. British politics today and its populist rhetoric has been typified through lies, corruption and the failure to deal with the real issues.

Therefore, the voter really needs to ask themselves whether they are actually doing justice in voting and legitimising an inherently corrupt and oppressive system or whether fundamental ideological questions should be asked, seeking an alternative civilisation.

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