This post is highly likely to be provocative – and may lead you to think I’m paranoid. If so, ah well. The facts speak for themselves, I think.
I only started writing this blog about 6 weeks ago. The government’s decision to cut corporation tax and the top rate of income tax on the grounds that it would lead to growth was such obvious idiocy, and its insistence that there were no realistic alternatives to its worldview so patently untrue, that I had to write about it, so I set up this blog with really only a couple of posts in mind to begin with.
I didn’t really expect to write that often, or that many people would read it. But the constant flow of things to be justly outraged about has made it hard to stop.
And the cumulative effect of becoming informed enough about a wide range of these things to write about them has led me to a very deep conviction – something I now consider to be an inescapable conclusion:
The UK is in the middle of a subtle, very British (though Chicago-inspired), very audacious and extremely malignant coup d’état. And it’s anything but bloodless – it’s costing lives, especially those of the vulnerable.
There. I’ve said it. If you want to write me off as a conspiracy theorist detached from reality, now’s the time to stop reading. If you don’t – or not just yet – then I’ll tell you why I think so.
The inspiration for this coup lies in the ‘Chicago School’ of economic thought typified by Milton Friedman. I won’t clog up this post with great detail about his thinking & its consequences, but if you want to read up on him you can do so here, on Wikipedia or via a Google search. For now, suffice to say that according to Friedman, anything state-run (except possibly the army) is a Bad Thing and the state should be reduced to the absolute minimum, while privatisation is intrinsically good. Friedman’s ideas have been imposed via coups on various occasions, notably in Indonesia, Chile, Argentina and elsewhere in South America – and in every case they have resulted in massive enrichment of a small elite and impoverishment for the exploited majority. Our current government, and more importantly its corporate backers, adhere very much to this small-state ideology.
I’ve been reading up a little on coups. In a lot of places, they’re achieved by main force – the army simply rebels, deposes the current leadership, takes control and imposes what it wants. But this is Britain, and that kind of coup isn’t really practical in a country with a long tradition of democracy and ethical service to the State. So other methods have to be found.
It’s hardly unprecedented for a group to come to power electorally, and then proceed to perpetrate a coup – to dismantle the electoral mechanisms that might get rid of it and to restructure the country to its own ends. A certain Austrian housepainter did it in 1933 – very successfully, until he pushed his luck too far.
All coups have defining characteristics – things they have to achieve to be successful and to ensure its leaders remain in power. It’s only the means of implementation that vary. Here are some of the elements of a coup d’état
– Police co-opted or neutralised
– Media co-opted or neutralised
– Opponents eliminated/divided/marginalised
– Organs of state dismantled/co-opted
– Massive propaganda to persuade the populace to accept the new order
– Electoral threat removed
– Increased surveillance of the public
– Huge increase in wealth & privilege of the ‘elite’
Are we witnessing an attempted coup d’état in the UK? Do the actions of this ‘government’ bear the classic characteristics of one? Let’s take a look at each element in turn.
Police co-opted or neutralised
The government’s attack on policing has been relentless since it came to power, leading to the famous booing of Home Secretary Theresa May by the Police Federation. Pay, conditions and numbers have been cut, all while the government claims to be maintaining ‘front-line numbers’, and the government is trying to impose the man who recommended the cuts as Chief Inspector of Constabulary. Police forces are being pressured to outsource functions to the private sector. Chillingly, the purpose of this attack has become clear. David Taylor-Smith, the head of the disgraced private security firm G4S, has publicly stated his expectation, based on current regulations and trends, that there will be a mass privation of policing over the next 5 years.
If this move takes place as he predicts, private capital will effectively own policing in this country – and will be placed to enforce the wishes of owners and suppress dissent, rather than protect the British people with relative neutrality and integrity. The neoliberals are positioning themselves for more direct control. If this worries you, it absolutely should. Don’t be distracted by G4S’ current embarrassment over its shameful failure in its Olympic security contract, necessitating a ‘bail-out’ by army personnel who should be on leave. Theresa May’s response to the situation makes it perfectly clear that the agenda remains unchanged – and if G4S rules itself out via its Olympics screw-up, there will be no shortage of other candidates eager to step up.
If you’re a police officer of any kind reading this, please read this post too, which might be interesting.
Media co-opted or neutralised
There has always been a large section of the print media that is dedicated to supporting right-wing ideology. But since it came to power this government has managed to coerce or manoeuvre even the BBC into supporting its aims. Apart from small pockets of resistance, the BBC usually either parrots government sound-bites as if they were fact, or else remains silently complicit by failing to bring public attention to the damaging effects of government action – and if you complain, it claims it’s making its editorial decisions based on lack of importance and public interest! Only a small section of the print media continues to draw attention to what’s going on – but it’s largely preaching to an already-converted readership rather than reaching the deceived.
This is Britain, so it’s not an easy option for the Tories to physically eliminate opponents. However, the government is doing everything it can to eliminate dissent, divide opponents and ridicule those who dare to claim there is a different way. Aided and abetted by their friends in the media, the Tories set segments of the population are against others: those who aren’t on benefits vs those who are; the able-bodied vs the disabled; the comfortable against the disadvantaged; private-sector workers vs the public sector; those whose pensions have already been stolen vs those whose pensions haven’t – yet. Whoever is to be the latest victim is systematically demonised, to reduce public support and the viability of resistance. And, as we’ve seen in the current case of government-sanctioned cartels to force down pay and terms of NHS workers in the south-west of England, the government is not above legalising criminal measures in order more effectively to corral its victims and deprive them of realistic options. This demonisation is costing lives, as suicides increase, especially among those deprived of support and hope, and as demonised groups are increasingly attacked physically by those who wrongly believe they’re somehow getting away with something.
Organs of state dismantled/co-opted
The neoliberal ideal requires the privatisation of every possible state provision – and that all profits go into private pockets while costs & losses are borne by the bulk of the population. Since before it came to power (its health bill was tabled less than 2 months after the General Election, far too short a time to construct such a complex bill), the Tories were plotting to privatise the NHS – and in rare moments of honesty, their key players even admit that they want not only the NHS but the entire welfare state to be dismantled.
In addition – and for a long time now, going back to Thatcher’s misuse of the police to smash the mining and print unions – the Tories have assumed the police will act as its paramilitary arm to suppress dissent. The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 makes ‘Occupy’-style protests near Parliament illegal if a police officer or local authority official tells you not to, and even bans the use of amplifiers, The infamous ‘kettling’ tactic used on protest marches are designed to keep protestors in areas of least effectiveness and to discourage people from participating.
This is a dangerous tactic, as the government has made itself an enemy of the police through its actions via Theresa May, but if they succeed in their privatisation drive, the danger of police joining the resistance instead of containing it will be removed or at least greatly reduced.
Massive propaganda to persuade the populace to accept the new order
I’ve already highlighted, in this article and various others, the way in which the Tories use propaganda and demonisation of target groups via the media to divide and rule. Once you see the pattern the first time, you realise just how saturated the news media are with this kind of disinformation. On top of this, the media and current affairs programmes speak of cuts, austerity and the perpetuation of the current financial system as if we all must simply accept that there is no other viable way, and to inhibit the spread of the notion that there might be better solutions and other points of view. Only rarely will a truly dissenting voice receive airtime, and then usually only to be treated as a foolish fringe. ‘Magic Money Tree’ jibes again, anyone?
Electoral threat removed
This is one of the most outrageous steps this government is trying to take – but yet again, even today on BBC News, reporters and commentators speak of Tory plans to re-draw electoral boundaries as if they’re simply another, slightly contentious ‘Westminster bubble’ issue.
And yet, if you look at what the Tories are trying to do, it’s appalling. The re-defining of electoral boundaries is not merely some kind of neutral re-balancing exercise – it’s deliberately designed to add weight and importance to every Conservative vote and to increase the number of Tory MPs that will result from a given number of Conservative voters. Put simply, these measures are designed to make it harder for the British electorate to vote out a Tory government. And if they succeed in this, you can guarantee that they will push it further and further, incrementally, until it’s virtually impossible to get rid of them.
Add this to the measures already implemented, of fixing Parliamentary terms to 5 years and increasing the majority required to carry a vote of no-confidence, which have guaranteed this shambolic, malevolent government at least 5 years to achieve irreversible damage to the UK state, and it’s clear that the Conservatives aim to tie up power to the greatest achievable degree while they change the fabric of our society to suit themselves and their paymasters.
Increased surveillance of the public
For a long time now, the UK has been the most watched nation in the world. The average person appears on CCTV 70 times a day. Now, with its draft communications bill, or snoopers’ charter, the government plans to give police and intelligence services an automatic right to monitor anyone’s electronic communications and internet activity. The supposed grounds for this are security against terrorism, but critics – including some Tories – say it will be ineffective in this. It will, however, be extremely useful for any official wanting to keep track of dissent and target resisters.
Huge increase in wealth & privilege of the ‘elite’
For the sake of brevity, I won’t go into this in detail, except to point you to these 2 posts, in which I outline the steepening increase in income inequality under neoliberal governments and the fact that in a neoliberal ‘recovery’, only the rich benefit, while the rest receive an unchanged or even reducing real income. Read those, and you’ll see the inescapable conclusion that the companies and rich individuals who fund the Tory party are most definitely expecting – and collecting – a huge payback for their support. The cost of this enriching is being paid for by stripping away the protections of our most vulnerable people -taking a toll in lives lost that will only increase as it’s extended.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you. Maybe you’ve read all this and think I’m overstating my case, or over-reacting to a confluence of accident and circumstance. I hope not, because I don’t think the evidence leaves any real room for doubt that we’re currently witnessing an insidious, subtle, but accelerating coup in this country, as a powerful clique expropriates our national wealth for their own ends and enrichment – and puts in place the measures it hopes will enable it to keep the rest of us in our ‘place’ for the foreseeable future. They may be putting a British, democratic whitewash on their actions – but we’re not fooled. Are we?
If you do agree with me, having read this post, then don’t tolerate the constant attempts to obscure the truth or to pull the wool over your eyes. There’s really only one sane course open to us: inform yourself and others, unite – and resist by every available means. The only other alternative is to bend over and take it, while the Tories and their sponsors laugh all the way to the bank at our expense. And no sane person would put up with that – would they?