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Who will speak for those who lack any meaningful political voice?

Voiceless person  (gagged) One of the most disturbing aspects of the election a few weeks ago was the large and rising number of voters who felt disenfranchised and voiceless. Not only those who felt abandoned by Labour in Scotland, nor even the 9% who deserted the main parties to vote for UKIP, but the untold hundreds of thousands who felt alienated by current politics and refused to vote, yet were burdened by grievances they couldn’t offload. They include:

  • those who are the victims of a tax exile who wants to bulldoze their homes to make way for luxury property;
  • a single mother who finds herself penniless on the back of a non-performing zero hours contract;
  • a young jobless man sanctioned because he didn’t attend a job interview even though he had informed the DWP beforehand that he would be having an operation in hospital that day;
  • countless persons who once again didn’t vote because they never have because it’s pointless and ‘they’ always win.

So how do they defend themselves?

Neoliberal society obliterates organised dissent. It breaks down solidarity and propagates the myth that we all rise or fall as individuals based on personal effort irrespective of class, gender, age, region and economic conditions.

As result of the shift from an industrial to a service-sector working class, jobs can be more precarious and short-lived, and mutually supportive communities are no longer based round supermarkets of call centres as they once were around mines or factories. Trade unions have been weakened by anti-union laws and mass unemployment.

Part of the reason for the Tory promotion of home ownership was that it inhibited strikes because of the need to pay mortgages. Trade unions and local government gave working class people political experience and know-how, and their decline plus the general professionalisation of politics has ensured middle class dominance in Westminster.

Those marginalised by these trends are forced to be creative to get the powerful to listen. They cannot rely on the mainstream media which are largely the plaything of a few privileged oligarchs, so they bypass it with social media. They tweet out their situation, argue their case, appeal for solidarity and resources, and ask others to build pressure on their corporate tormentors and on local and national politicians – including Russell Brand, an important emblem of this grassroots campaign.

Democracy no longer listens to them, but local struggles particularly over housing led by working class women in Focus E15 and the New Era fightback last year are increasingly making themselves felt across the country. If Labour is to regain its role as their representative, it has a huge job ahead getting in touch with them, listening to them, and taking part actively and enthusiastically in whatever campaigns they feel will meet their needs.

23 Comments

  1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

    How to make friends and influence people?

    Well it can’t be repeated often enough but stuff like this, which is not by any means a unique or isolated incident, (but was still a seminal moment in the post Blair Labor party’s continuing loss of all credibility and even the pretense of commanding any real moral authority,) illustrates perfectly so much that’s gone wrong.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1499466/Heckler-82-who-dared-called-Straw-a-liar-is-held-under-terrorist-law.html

    The then Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, (the same Jack Straw; last heard from denying more cash for access allegations,) was telling the conference that Britain was in Iraq “for one reason only” – to help the elected Iraqi government – when Walter Wolfgang shouted: “That’s a lie and you know it.”

    Mr Wolfgang, a refugee from Nazi Germany and a Labour Party member since 1948, was immediately surrounded by security staff in full view of the television cameras and ejected from the hall in Brighton as officials revoked his pass.

    When he tried to re-enter the secure zone, he was stopped by a police officer citing the Terrorism Act.

    Steve Forrest, the chairman of Erith and Thamesmead Labour Party, was also thrown out after complaining about Mr Wolfgang’s treatment.

    And labor still wonder why they’re losing members?

    1. James Martin says:

      Yes, many of us protested about this at the time, but quite why you think a decade old story is directly relevant to this particular article is beyond me but it allows you to continue to cut and paste I guess. Oh, and thankfully we are not americanised yet – Labour has a ‘u’ and long may that continue.

      1. Rod says:

        Labor’s decline began long ago not just when Ed lost the election.

        If you think the mess Labor has made should be forgotten, that just ain’t going to happen. Look at the mess in the Middle East today – we’re all going to be reminded of Blair’s disastrous legacy for many years to come.

        And look at the mess in Libya – the bombing of which was supported by Miliband and all the rest, including Michael Meacher.

        We won’t forget and we won’t let you forget. We’ll remind you at the ballot box and on blogs like this one.

        1. John P Reid says:

          Decline ,fair enough,but 1997 was a one off 44% of the vote,we’d only got a higher percentage than that once in the previous 40 years, and that was the days of two party politics mane governments always lose a percentage of vote after being in power,the party having troubles in 2001 over direction before Iraq,so losing the working class vote in 2015,or the skilled private middle class vote in 2010 were the beginning

          1. Rod says:

            Labour won in ’97 on a promise to build a ‘stakeholder’ economy and to deliver ethical foreign policies. But that didn’t happen.

            And once experienced, New Labour didn’t prove to be popular. New Labour lost votes unsustainably – 5 million votes between ’97 and 2010 – hence the 2010 defeat.

            And even Kinnock won more votes in ’92 than Blair did in 2001.

            Today, in response to Labour’s crisis, the elite only appear only capable of burying their heads in the Progress ‘aspiration’ comfort zone.

            Can’t see Labour’s fortunes turning-around any time soon.

      2. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

        James Martin_

        I’m pleased that you’ve been able to, “move, on,” as it were but for many of is those particular events were harbingers of much that’s subsequently gone awry with the British Labor party.

        But whilst you and people like you were indulging in these tedious and pedantic quibbles about the spelling; Labor’s sticky fingered low life, (but also the Tories as well,) people like Burnham, Harman, Balls and Cooper et al; were cheerfully stuffing their pockets with tax payers money and that without even mentioning the appalling abuse, (and perhaps as many as 1200 premature deaths there,) at Mid Staffs or all the children and vulnerable young adults cynically hung out to dry by Labor in their traditional strongholds like Birmingham, Rochdale, Rotherham, Sheffield and elsewhere.

        The stink of all that hasn’t gone away and now one of those very same people, (Andy Burnham,) who then as Minister of Health; held overall responsibility for the NHS during that period, is now the main candidate for leadership of the Labor party.

        Something is, (still,) very rotten in the state of Labor

        1. Matty says:

          The Healthcare Commission revealed the severity of the situation at Stafford Hospital in March 2009 – which was, in any case, after the event, as measures to eradicate poor care and improve matters had already been put in place.

          Burnham became Health Secretary in June 2009.

          See http://zelo-street.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/burnham-more-mid-staffs-lies.html

          Yet you continue to repeat the same old lies. This has been pointed out to you before (just a week or 2 ago). You had no answer then but now you have come back again to repeat the same old lies.

          1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

            That’s all you’ve got?

            It was all just a pack of lies and anyway was nothing to do with the then Health Secretary anyway, (typical,) even if what you say is true which I still dispute having read much of the Francis report, whatever suddenly happened to, “collective responsibility.”

          2. Matty says:

            What I am saying is that you are arguing in bad faith. You have repeated the lie that Burnham was Health Sec during the Mid-Staffs scandal despite knowing that this was not the case. I would debate with you but not when you exhibit this troll-like behaviour.

  2. David Pavett says:

    I agree when Michael Meacher says

    Neoliberal society obliterates organised dissent. It breaks down solidarity and propagates the myth that we all rise or fall as individuals based on personal effort irrespective of class, gender, age, region and economic conditions.

    I agree too when he adds that

    Democracy no longer listens to them … If Labour is to regain its role as their representative, it has a huge job ahead getting in touch with them, listening to them …”.

    That sort of democracy requires interaction. Listening implies responding.

    The problem is that Michael Meacher himself by the way he contributes on Left Futures (and elsewhere) is as much part of the problem as the solution. He drops his pearls of wisdom her for the rest of us to read but he never responds to discussion (as far as I have noticed) about what he has written. Something wrong there surely.

    How can we tell if he is “listening” if he never responds? That’s not how dialogue works.

    1. Robert says:

      Then go to his blog, these articles are taken from other sources, he does not respond to people on here because he did not write it for this site.

      Lots of the articles are written and then picked up by this siteand others, if you like a response I suspect if you asked him he would, go to his blog.

      1. David Pavett says:

        (1) If a writer let’s his/her articles be “syndicated” then it is not unreasonable to expect that this implies extending their responsibility to respond. There are, after all, digital means for keeping all the material on different outlets together.

        (2) I did as you suggested and went to Michael Meacher’s own blog. I looked at his last ten posts and found that he had not responded to comments in a single instance.

        So, I don’t think your response really deals with the problem that I tried to highlight. Labour Grandees of the left and the right (not to speak of lesser beings) don’t feel any need to engage with those who respond to what they write. Genuine democracy cannot work with such an approach.

        1. Robert says:

          Yes but because you think they should respond will not get them doing it. perhaps this site should end the taking on material from other sites and write a bit more themselves in which they can respond.

          Michael does not even respond to his own blog so he is not going to do it here is he.

        2. John P Reid says:

          The way to win an election is to sound as if one is centre right on economic policies, something Gordon brown tried and failed to do, not only becusase he didn’t believe it ,but because he new he couldn’t appear to believe it either, Burnham 5 years ago when he was still a blairite who’d been loyal to Brown, as it was inevitable brown would succeed Blair, may have been able to manage it then, but not now

  3. David Pavett says:

    Michael does not even respond to his own blog so he is not going to do it here is he.

    That emphasises my original point.

    1. Robert says:

      Which is the same you ask they do not respond , so really the question is then why do you bother.

  4. Billericaydickie says:

    Were they, the supposedly disenfranchised, prevented from voting or did they choose not to? They had a choice and took even if they didn’t vote Labour which seems to be, in Meacher’s eyes, the problem.

    1. John P Reid says:

      Quite

  5. swatantra says:

    Sometimes I despair of Michael Meacher. OMOV, every person has a vote; the trouble is a lot of those that whinge can’t be bothered to turn out and vote. And if they can’t be bothered to even make the attempt to engage, then why should I bother or anyone else bother flogging our guts out for them?

    1. Gary Brooke says:

      Because ‘they’ might vote in the future?
      Or they certainly will continue to not vote if they don’t see anything worth voting for? Political apathy or antipathy is nothing new. That’s why, I guess, some people continue to ‘flog their guts out’.

    2. Billericaydickie says:

      You’re correct.

    3. Billericaydickie says:

      And so are you.

  6. Robert says:

    But when your searching for people to take the Job, and you have four maybe five people Trickett, MCDonnell, Burnham who was a Blair-rite Brown-nite, Miliband -nite, Cooper and Cruddas or as some say a bloke looking for a job, Cooper who is a centrist. Cruddas where he stands I’ve no idea would he take the job I doubt it.

    We have to search to find a leader out of the other 24 left MP’s , and that is the problem the left is now a Minority.

    So really this is about getting a leader who is able to defeat the Tories and yet still see the welfare state council houses the NHS and the railways worthy of looking at so whom do we get.

    Cameron.

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