Ashley Perks argues that the two Eds leading Labour need to say it like it is. In plain English.
Beer-swilling, fag-puffing, anti-establishment son-of-the-establishment, Nigel Farage – cheeky chappy and diamond geezer that he may be – has absolutely nothing to offer our desperate nation but bloody beer, smoke-smelling sweat and crocodile tears. As a former Tory party member and stock broker, Farage is not quite the ingénu he makes himself out to be. As an anti-EU MEP (sic), he is a comfortably remunerated beneficiary of the Brussels to Strasbourg Gravy Shuttle and is blatantly pulling the political powers-that-be’s legs. Not that he and his tally-ho hunt of a party should be ignored, ridiculed or dismissed, all the same.
The thing is though, his home-spun, touted-in-the-Saloon-bar political policies amount to nothing. Europe is not Ms Average’s main concern just now as she faces homelessness; immigrants are an irritation only to an ignorant, ‘I’m not racist, but…’ minority unaware of the vast contribution they make to the UK’s GDP and how much less of a burden they are on the benefits system and the NHS than ‘true Brits’, too. A bunch of Latvian cabbage cutters in Lincolnshire, or potato packers in Norfolk; Caribbean toilet cleaners in the nation’s office buildings and Polish plumbers fixing our putrid piping are doing the jobs we PREFER NOT TO DO – although these days there are many who would willingly turn their hand to any job to pay their way, if there were any – such is the long post-war tradition of reluctance to do ‘mucky’ work. And if you think Romanians and Bulgarians are going to flock to our basket-case of a country, you have the brain of a kipper. And same-sex relationships and marriage are an accepted norm that has been too long on its evolutionary path.
However, the message has resonated, mainly to give the Cameroons a bloody nose and a custard pie in the face. The clowns are not in the village hall reunions of the rag-tag UKIP army; they are meeting, every week, around the extended coffin lid that is the Cabinet table. Like Nick Clegg, to pick an example at random. In a letter to The Guardian (7 May) Peter Franklin from North Weald pondered:
“Why did so many people vote for UKIP? In my case it was simple. On the morning of the election your splash headline (‘Clegg: Ukip is dragging PM to the right’, 4 May) and the deputy PM’s assertion that “the struggle on the right…was making day-to-day progress in the coalition government more difficult” was all the persuasion I needed to pile on the pressure. Thank you, Nick, for giving me the nudge.”
More to the point; what people appreciate about Farage is his straight talking in the language of the everyday Middle-England man-in-a-pub. Nonsense it might be, but it is spoken with authority, confidence and the sincere self-belief of the illusionist. As the political gobbledegook, spin, management-speak, obfuscation, avoidance of honest talking and bare-faced lying of all the political faces that clog the TV studios and poison the airwaves, people are glad to follow the Pied Piper – any Pied Piper – whose catchy tune they understand and can easily hum along to. Look at Bradford West and their blind faith in the singularly most populist but obnoxious parliamentary candidate we have seen for decades, George Galloway. And has he ever done a single bit of good for them? Has he hell.
Bradford Liberal Democrat councillor, Geoff Reid wrote recently:
“Ukip can offer a wake-up call but no solutions to our political malaise. We need serious politicians who do not talk like robots. We need campaigning representatives grounded in political philosophy. We need a diversity of people in public office who are rooted in local communities and not beholden to corporate finance. If you are intelligent, committed and capable of running a car boot sale, your country needs you!”
Well, it’s not Nick Clegg, Desperate Danny Alexander, Vince The Cable or Diddy David Laws who are leading his party by that example, eh?
Of course, Labour is no better. Ed Miliband’s ear-bleedingly awful interview on Radio 4 and Harriet Harman’s intervention on the next morning’s Today programme which was almost as evasive and opaque, proved that the shadow team are still gagged by the gaffer tape of spin and Blairite on-messaging. If I hear one more “Let me be clear…” or “I’m being perfectly clear here…” followed by an alignment of words and sentences that clarify nothing except their fear to talk straight and tell us like it is – and the entire government is equally culpable – I’ll… “Oi! Miliband! Talk proper like normal folk! Standing on a pallet, soft soap-boxing the people, won’t wash!”
Mind you faking it is fatal; look at George Osborne’s cynically condescending and contemptuous cockney cock up of a speech to warehouse workers at Morrisons’. The man’s an insult to the intelligence of people far better than him for all his ‘breeding’, inherited wealth and privilege.
Ed Balls needs to mind his mouth too. Along with his namesake, he needs to look us straight in the eye and admit that, yes, there will need to be some extra borrowing at first – Miliband finally whispered it, like it was a stigma he was admitting to – to finance the desperately needed building of affordable and social housing which will pay for themselves very quickly. It is also important to encourage business and investment, and that takes speculation (borrowing to invest) before accumulation.
What exactly is wrong with borrowing? Did any new business get off the ground without borrowing to invest? Did any family – yours? – acquire property without a mortgage, paid back over many years? Who, in the real world, bought their new car cash-down? Well then. Nothing to be ashamed of, eh?
In the face of UKIP’s surgette and the Tories’ goose-stepping to the right, Labour should get their Eds together and show us whether two Eds are better than one, and then explain our options in plain, honest English. Or let Rachel Reeves do it, without Politburo-cleared bullet points. Innit.
Follow Ashley on Twitter: @StRemeze
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