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

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, and 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.

14 thoughts on “Who will speak for those who lack any meaningful political voice?

  1. Labour needs to make it clear to these people that it is willing to help. This was NOT made clear in the run up to the election, not by party HQs anyway, so many felt there was nowhere for them to go.

    The party is an enormous organisation with loads of volunteers, so should get actively involved in the various campaigns against all the injustices being perpetrated by the Tories. This could also have the effect of legitimising these protests which would otherwise be dismissed as being carried out by minority fringe organisations and not taken seriously.

    There’s also the matter that various demonstrations are not featured in the TV news. There was a big demo in London last year but the BBC just showed one that was held in Belgium on the same day! If some well known Labour MPs got involved it shouldn’t be so easy for the TV stations and newspapers to ignore them. People would once again start to feel that there is a political party on their side.

    Too many people still don’t have a clue about what’s really going on in this country, as the media doesn’t seem to cover things the Tories would rather people didn’t know!

  2. Trouble is they own bbc channels four and five and the news agencys keeping the real news away from tge plebs has a party in opposition you done badly fighting the tories even agreeing with them it usnt rocket science you gone over to the tory side through greediness that has undone this party untill you all return or throw out the to far righters then has a party you are doomed that will be your epitaph killed off by greed jeff3

  3. One of the most intelligent and perceptive pieces you’ve written here for quite a while.

    But I can’t really add much Jeffery Davies’s comment above, other than than that there’s something quite risible and more than a bit desperate about a bourgeoisie and politically far right Labor party now composed, (certainly the well heeled hierarchy,) entirely of people, (Private school fees are paid by 7% of the population; private health insurance is taken out by 11%,) whose principle concerns, (according to the Guardian,) are, school fees, dental care, health insurance, holidays, wine (fine), new cars, holidays and “cultural activities”

    (It’s shocking, (shocking I tell you,) that the price rises in all these areas have been astronomical – health insurance has gone up by 51% over the past six years, school fees by 40% – while over the same period earnings in the double-average-wage bracket have gone down by 0.8%.)

    These are same people who thought, (for reasons incomprehensible to the rest of the country,) that; a far right; economically neoliberal; American educated; multi millionaire; property speculator; living the Downton Abby, (“staff,” and nannies, etc,) life in his £2.6 million North London mansion, would somehow be suitable leader of the Labor party or even a credible PM.

    I still hasn’t really sunk in just how much the entire country has now rejected that fantasy.

    Hard to imagine what any of these people might have say to someone on the minimum wage, a zero hour contract or on benefits?

  4. Jeffery Davies-

    As usual you’re not wrong.

    But lest we forget, remember this:

    In January 2009, Harman proposed a rule change to exempt MPs’ expenses from the Freedom of Information Act. Her parliamentary order aimed to remove “most expenditure information held by either House of Parliament from the scope of the Freedom of Information Act”. It meant that, under the law, journalists and members of the public would no longer be entitled to learn details of their MP’s expenses. Labour MPs were to be pressured to vote for this measure by use of a three line whip. Her proposal was withdrawn when the Conservative Party said they would vote against, and an online campaign by mySociety. The failure of the motion led to the disclosure of expenses of British members of parliament.

    In December 2010 it emerged that Harman was amongst 40 MPs who had secretly repaid wrongly claimed expenses between 2008 and 2010. In November 2010 Harman’s parliamentary private secretary Ian Lavery had blocked a motion designed to allow the repayments to be made public.

    “Harriet Harman is another multi millionaire, privately educated at St Paul’s girls school (Osborne went to St Paul’s boys school) is, given her eighteen year parliamentary career, set to get at least a half a million pounds from her pension pot. Along with her husband’s salary and pension, things are looking comfortable with one house in Herne Hill and a country pile in Suffolk. Putting the trade unionist and the toff well into the millionaire’s class…”

  5. The big unanswered question is where among the members of the Labour Party is the voice?

    I only see sheep following, never leading, Michael is one of the few in Labour that actually give reasoned arguments that are meaningful.

  6. Very well written Michael. I would just like to add that neoliberal society not only ‘propagates the myth that we all rise or fall as individuals based on personal effort’ it also overtly and subtly supports and promotes the right to extreme wealth and material extravagance regardless of the consequences to others or our fragile earth.

  7. Agree totally with all comments, the sad part is corruption is rife amongst all politicians at the top and nothing will change, same applies to the bankers. Strange how it’s all gone quiet with “Lord” Green and the HSBC scandal, again what can we do about it, NOTHING.

    Cyril Smith another example, what can we do about it?

    Some things in life which cause upset and distress are best left alone if you can’t change them. This applies to many voters.

    I truly wish we had more Mr. Meachers to run this country, one of the few true to his party.

  8. But I refuse to accept these council disrepair.

    Divide and conquer?

    There is actually a very strong and widespread, “extra political,” consensus, (this is evident in the comments posted above and also elsewhere,) about what the UK really needs from our politicians, but to too many people, the current generation of Labor politicians in particular exemplify pretty much everything that’s gone wrong, post Blair.

    So first we need to ditch, (jail?) people like Balls, Harman, Burnham, Cooper, Miller, Laws, Green and so on; pick a name, who seem to be the septic boil at the very heart of the systemic corruption infecting the body politic and beyond.

  9. Not rely jp guy fawkes comes to mind they aint going to change greedie politicians are worst than the criminals in jail

  10. Jeffery Davies-

    “The only man ever to enter Parliament with honest intentions?”

    I take your point, but I refuse to accept it.

    As I’ve commented previously most of the people that I know simply do not behave like that, most of the time in most circumstances.

    A fact from which I draw much comfort and some hope.

  11. Labour party activists should be organising food banks and weekly stalls outside Job Centres. They should show by physical presence and real-life actions that the Labour party does work for the people in need, and not just being seen when they need the people to vote.

  12. why do you continue to identify with the Labour Party ?
    why are you not able to see that it is as rotten and corrupt as any other institution of state that you rail against

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