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Theresa May’s politics of fear and the avoidance of scrutiny

  

There are two paths we can take in the face of violence and hate. Manchester just pointed out the right one.

Theresa May, however, has chosen to use the understandable fear and revulsion of the people of Britain to justify the continuation of a failed approach to global terror, which has cost countless lives, billions of pounds and has left us even less safe than we were before. The temporary suspension of campaigning in the general election was appropriate but Labour are absolutely correct to resume. The opposition has every right to hold the Prime Minister to account.

We have never needed a debate about the role our country plays in the world more than we do now. There is another way to respond to this atrocity and the public needs to hear it. To allow Theresa May to shape our response to terror without debate, risked a continuation of failed policies.

In the midst of the horror and carnage, the pain and the death in Manchester this week, we found love and solidarity. One man came to wound and maim, but countless others chose to protect, support and offer comfort. There could be no greater illustration of the duality of the human condition; no starker demonstration of the choices facing all of us, as we work out how we should respond.

However, in the aftermath of this hateful act, the Prime Minister has sought to portray herself as strong, appealing to public fear, while advocating the militarisation of our streets. She does this, despite her record of cutting funding to the military and police, in the name of austerity.

We would not needs soldiers in our towns and cities, if Theresa May hadn’t cut police numbers by 20,000 during her time in government. Such policies must be exposed to scrutiny, in the full glare of an election campaign.

For Theresa May to suggest she’s anything other than a weak and directionless leader is pure fantasy. To do so in the wake of such a tragedy is pure opportunism, cooked up in Tory Central Office and presented to a frightened populous by sycophants in the media.

“Theresa May launches her war on terror” lauded one Sky News headline. What does that even mean? And, more to the point how is a woman, incapable of launching her own manifesto, able to solve one of the most complex issues facing the world today? Instead she is simply offering more conflict and the cycle of pain will go on.

The public should ask what she and her government have been doing for the last seven years? Have they only just realised there is a problem? Where they unaware that our communities needed protecting, while they were cutting budgets and demoralising police officers?

Could they not see that there was an opportunity to cut off the supply of money and weapons to groups like ISIS, while they were busy turning Britain into the second biggest arms dealer on the planet? Were they so incompetent that they couldn’t foresee that their weapons sales might end up in the hands of terrorists, or be used to oppress others?

In reality, this is a government made up of reckless, knee-jerk politicians, who promote violence, while seeking to restrict our freedoms, when their trade in bombs and bullets inevitably comes home to roost. This approach solves nothing and only inflames the situation. This is a key election issue.

In place of an election debate, there have been voices, in the media, egging the Prime Minister on and calling for internment camps and mass deportations. How long before a “Muslim ban” is proposed? Such siren calls reached their lowest point when one celebrity troll provoked outrage by calling for a “final solution”.

This is not the first time Katie Hopkins has used language dreamt up by fascists in the 1930s and she knows exactly what she is doing. It’s time her employers thought seriously about whether they want to continue giving her a platform for her bile.

However, while some seek to perpetuate the cycle of hate and violence, it seems the people of Manchester have other ideas. An attempt by the so-called English Defence League to capitalise on the tragedy, by whipping up hate and division, was given short shrift by ordinary Mancunians.

People of all faiths have rallied to offer help to their fellow citizens and those from further afield. Stories tell of acts of kindness, with people offering a free ride to the stranded and beds to the lost and separated. By far the most inspiring story to emerge is that of a homeless man who, without a thought for his own safety, rushed to the aid of the injured and the dying.

Isn’t it often the case that those who have the least give the most? How many people will have walked by, not even noticing this man sleeping rough on the street in the days and weeks that preceded the attack? How callous and indifferent has this government been to his plight and that of countless others? Yet when he was needed he gave all he had, in order to help others.

I have always believed that some of the greatest souls on earth are living in obscurity, ignored by politicians and demonised in the media. What we need is a society that unlocks the hidden potential in these people, instead of condemning them to poverty and isolation.

What we are actually being offered is more hate and more war. Meanwhile every bomb we make and every bullet fired robs food from the tables of the hungry. Surely there’s another way.

John Lennon once talked of “declaring peace” instead of war. That’s what the people of Manchester have done. In the face of outrageous violence and cruelty they have refused to be divided or cowed. I believe that the solution to all of this lies in the responses of the people of Manchester, not in the reactions of Theresa May.

Lennon also said, “Peace is not something you wish for; it’s something you do, something you are and something you give away.” Isn’t that what we saw on the streets of Manchester this week? Ordinary people giving of themselves and refusing to see differences, only what they have in common.

They weren’t simply dreaming of a more united world, they were living it. Why can’t we have governments that think and behave like this, who see violence as a last resort and whose starting point is always how can we declare peace?

The choices facing us now, in the wake of this atrocity, are the same as those in the election. On the one hand we are offered a society and a culture that feeds division, terrorism and war, while seeking to marginalise the poor and the vulnerable. On the other we are presented with the chance to do exactly the opposite.

As I contemplate that choice, I find myself shoulder to shoulder with my Mancunian brothers and sisters.

13 Comments »

  1. Reblogged this on joetaylor41 and commented:
    It will be in towns like Manchester and Liverpool that the tide will turn. The future will be one of love not hate, helping not exploiting, sharing not accumulating wealth, participating in the decisions that affect our live, not being lead…or we have no future worth having.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Really excellent writing as usual, Jeff. However the mammoth in the room will not be discussed by any of the msm or the political establishment. Since the 1970’s oil boom and the creation of OPEC the Saudi’s have poured more than 200 billion dollars(US) into promoting Wahabism, their particular form of Islamic fascism. The radicalisation of previously benign Muslim countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, armed groups in the Phillipines and Myanmar and more recently the remaining Muslim groups in Northern India. Pakistan and Afghanistan have long been subverted. Yet who do we kow tow to for the prospect of getting some dollar crumbs off the table? Our manufacturing base is now largely dependant on the arms industry and the Saudis are our largest customers by miles. We even fight their proxy wars against Iran for them by tangentially supporting Islamist groups against Assads unpleasant but secular regime. Apart from the greed and desperation to keep the arms trade going and prostrating ourselves before the Wahabists there is no logic to any of this and we end up with dead children in Manchester.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just as I bemoaned the lack of exposure along comes this excellent piece by http://markcurtis.info/2017/05/24/the-british-establishment-is-putting-our-lives-at-risk-our-states-key-ally-is-a-major-public-threat/ You still won’t see it in the MSM though. P.S my information on my previous comment was based on an excellent piece of work by a professor at ANU (Australian National University) who has been monitoring particularly the rise of fundamentalism in Indonesia (pop. 257 million!). Large parts of Indonesia like Aceh province now operate under Sharia Law with rising intolerance, indeed, prosecutions and punishments for Gays and Christians. The Saudis have been the driving force behind all this radicalisation which is now affecting large parts of S.E. Asia.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Not just gay people, they flog heterosexual couples for clandestine meetings, as this story from Oct 2016 shows:
        “The province, on Sumatra island, began implementing sharia law after being granted special autonomy in 2001, an attempt by the government in Jakarta to quell a long-running separatist insurgency. Islamic laws have been strengthened since Aceh struck a peace deal with Jakarta in 2005. More than 90% of Indonesians describe themselves as Muslim, but the vast majority practise a moderate form of the faith.”
        https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/17/aceh-flogs-13-young-people-for-breaking-islamic-laws-sharia-intimacy-indonesian-province
        So in other words, their mad kipper party is ruling the roost, demanding the right to flog people or they’ll whip up the crowds to make them separate from the country. Remember: in Ukip’s first manifesto Farage wanted to bring back the birch in schools. Peas in pod.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for these insights Alan. This has really helped clarify things in my mind. Unravelling all of that will be complex for any government on the left, but the key (as you suggest) is breaking with the toxic and slavish relationship we have with Saudi Arabia.

        Like

  3. Jeff, you wrote: “Meanwhile every bomb we make and every bullet fired robs food from the tables of the hungry”. I respect and admire the spirit in which you and others give us an eloquent analysis of the shortcomings and errors of our government, and of sections of the press.

    But bombs and bullets don’t rob food from tables. The bomber in Manchester didn’t set out to spite Burger King, or turn people away from Sainsbury’s delicatessen counter. Nor do our forces drop bombs of fire helicopter rounds to stop people eating cous-cous in the bazaar or ice cream under the palm trees of Libya. We aim to fill people with hot lead, to smash bodies to a bloodied pulp, to create rivers of blood and shred peoples’ hopes of a future.

    It’s a pound to a penny the Manchester bomber did it to avenge the shrapnel-filled and mangled, bloodied bodies of people in the Muslim countries of his parents’ birth. British and American ordinance has been dropped from the sky in the hundreds of thousands of tons killing and maiming tens of thousands of civilians in North Africa and the Middle East. American helicopter pilots save picked off civilians in Iraq coming to the aid of their fellow citizens, as if in a shoot-em-up computer game. “You want to know what it means to suffer, people of the comfortable merciless bloodthirsty North? Try this for size! I’ll die happy to know that you will suffer a little of what my people have suffered at your hands.”

    I understand that feeling. Is there anyone who doesn’t? What are we going to do about it? Label a third of the world psychopaths? Wake up to reality everyone. We labelled the Cypriot EOKA terrorists. We labelled the Viet Cong terrorists. We labelled the Mau-Mau and the Africa National Congress terrorists. We labelled the IRA terrorists. They wanted freedom and justice, but we didn’t think they deserved it. It would not suit our national interests. We are still at it, and – my God – I think we’ve got to think again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. The point I was making with that line was that money spent on weapons and warfare could be spent solving poverty. I’m sorry if it didn’t come across that way.

      I understand how our foreign policy alienates ordinary people in middle East. My point about UK as arms dealer was an attempt at dealing with that. A lot to cover in around 1000 words so if got balance wrong that’s on me. I agree with your concluding remarks, which are an appeal for a change in foreign policy direction to one based on peace.

      Thanks for reading and for your well thought out contribution.

      Like

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