It is now time for a political revolution in Britain. The word has a level of baggage associated with it far greater than that carried by Paddington Bear when he appeared in London from ‘darkest’ Peru: notably the violence and turbulence of the French, American and Russian revolutions. We need not fear it, however. There are other precedents. One of the most inspirational was the non-violent 1974 Carnation Revolution in Portugal, which removed the deeply-entrenched fascistic dictatorship of Salazar and the Estado Novo (“New Order”) and withdrew Portuguese soldiers from the unpopular and unwinnable colonial wars in Africa. The revolution, triggered by the playing of a song (“Grandola Vila Morena” by Zeca Afonso) on Portuguese radios at 12.15am on 25th April, was a necessary medicine for a diseased polity. Today, the British polity is equally cankered, and is also in need of urgent healing.
George Soros, who was responsible in large measure for forcing the pound sterling out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) in 1992 describes forcefully how the current global recession, or depression, has shown the thirty or forty year market fundamentalist ideology (of relentless capital market deregulation) to have been an enormous mistake. In Britain, the ‘indigenous’ form of that fundamentalism was Thatcherism, which overturned traditional paternalistic Conservatism and, building on the theories of Hayek and the work of the Institute of Economic Affairs founded in 1955, ushered in a revolution of its own.
New Labour has merely been the continuation and entrenchment of that revolution under the cloak of a Labour tradition which it sold out and sold off through bullying and subterfuge. The result is a Parliament and a media that represents overwhelmingly right-wing views and continues to parade market fundamentalism in myriad forms, despite the fact it joined the dodo in the annals of history when the circuit of valueless derivatives was shorted in August 2007. After the next election, our elected representatives – such as you – should be paid the average national salary, with no extra perquisites. That must be arranged in a valid currency – the pound sterling looks increasingly invalid, and may soon enter the annals of history itself. We face significant fiscal, economic, and ecological belt-tightening: value for money must begin with political representation, or it is no kind of representation at all.
We have a long tradition of democratic advances in Britain, from Magna Carta to the Levellers, the Chartists to the Suffragettes. We must reclaim it. Our revolution must be engineered in cyberspace and in our streets, our taverns and our living rooms. In our highly vulnerable post-industrial economy, centred on the ‘service’ (or tertiary and quartenary) sectors, cyberspace is the equivalent of the Gdansk shipyards from where the Solidarity movement grew and flourished in Poland. Ultimately, however, our revolution must be executed at the ballot box. X marks the spot.
We propose the creation of the Red Rose movement as an umbrella organisation that openly welcomes electoral pacts and collaborations with environmentally and socially principled parties, campaign groups, and individuals. We also propose that red roses be worn as a sign of sympathy with the movement. In this addled society of the spectacle, where we are distracted and misdirected into addiction to the opium of spectacles of mass distraction, theatre and costume must be an element of our revolution, as must music and poetry. It is, however, inside the private cloister and sealed garden (hortus conclusus) of the secret ballot that each one of us, as citizens, shall finally let our voices ring loud and clear, in choruses of rainbow colours.
Let us elect, and enter, a real Parliament – of the people, by the people, and for the people. We must bring all British soldiers home immediately, scrap the Trident nuclear weapons system, and bring forth an Environmental New Deal with genuine employment, centred on renewable energy. Resources are limited, and the tasks monumental. We have as much to do, if not more, than the architects of the post-war British welfare state faced in 1945. They moved mountains, on meagre rations. So must we. Time is of the quintessence. All hands are required at the pump – though not the petrol pump, since we are now in the era of post-peak oil, as well as the era of post-peak credit.
Where are you standing? What policy fields are you focusing on? And if you were made a minister tomorrow morning, what is the first change you would make (and how would you cost it)?
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