It is difficult to think of any week in which so much has been overturned as the one that has just passed. Members of parliament are in a dilemma. For years they have been making the taxpayers, who are their real employers, pay for personal laundry, house-cleaning and gardening work, housekeeping and repairs, mortgages and many other personal expenses which ordinary people in no way expect their employers to have paid, except indirectly through earned salaries and wages. They have been able to keep away from criticism by having no competent self-regulation and a code of secrecy protected in recent years by Speaker Michael Martin, whose recent elevation to the peerage is a disgrace. Tax-avoidance, that would quickly have had ordinary people in the law courts, has been frequent and is now exposed. Harriet Harman makes herself foolish on the radio, by telling us that everything has been within ‘the rules. What rules and who made them? The consequences at the next election will be brutal and I hope that it will lead to a reform of this inherently corrupt parliamentary system.
Then there is this cover-up of illegally dumped toxic waste in Africa. The Trafigura Corporation have been desperately using the highly discredited Carter-Ruck Law firm to issue a gagging order to prevent discussion of this incident in Parliament. This firm of libel-lawyers have been suing on behalf of special interest companies for years, covering up all kinds of dubious and illegal activity. What could be more foolish than trying to stop ‘The Guardian’ from reporting on parliamentary questions? But they found a judge to help them do it! There is a motion to report them to the Law society. They should have their license to practise revoked. Fortunately, it was bloggers on the internet that exposed what they were trying to hide.
The war in Afghanistan is highly unpopular in both Britain and America. Finally it is coming under review. Why should a corrupt President be kept in Power at the expense of the lives of British and American soldiers, and Afghan civilians? Why are we fighting a war which any intelligent observer knows is lost? A big reverse must be on its way.
Public opinion has begun to turn against the politicians, and it is making them increasingly uncomfortable. Their stupid and illogical assertion that we are fighting this war in order to eradicate terrorism has been proved to be utterly fallacious and conversely seems, to any intelligent observer, instead, to be its principle cause. The military themselves are beginning to voice their doubts about the whole misguided adventure. Afghanistan is not a nation, but a series of tribal areas, each with its own cultural and religious identity- it cannot be conquered by force. The Soviets tried, and failed. The only result our presence can achieve in that country is to unite all those disparate tribes against their common enemy: the coalition forces. Democracy on the western model has no place in a tribal society. In the long run, the country should be partitioned- but not by outsiders.
Having poured enormous amounts of public money into the empty-coffers of failed banks and insurance companies, the government now has to deal with unemployment rising above three million in Britain, threatened strikes, and a phony financial boom that has enabled bonus culture to start again. If they have a majority stake, then this should entitle the government to fire those who lost the money and to sue them for incompetence. It should also bring in heavy taxation on those who can afford it and re-nationalise, with no immediate compensation, those enterprises (transportation, energy, housing) that are currently in trouble, instead of offering the few nationalised institutions that are left for sale to raise funds. Above all, what is needed is a national incomes policy, based on progressive taxation, of one to fifteen approximately in terms of individual spending power. We are not all equal in ability, energy or intelligence, but we can be roughly equal in lifestyle in the eyes of society. It should be enough to have the prestige and reputation that goes with authority and advancement without looking for individual affluence. The enormous gap between the rich and the poor must be brought to an end. Let us hope that it can be done peaceably.
John Calder 19/10/09