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The UK's slide into despair

by tyronen Mon Mar 25th, 2019 at 08:25:06 AM EST

When I was a kid, they used to tell stories of Britain in the seventies, supposedly a union-crazed hellhole of the three-day week, garbage piling up in Leicester Square, going cap in hand to the IMF...

Yet it seems to me that the UK in 2019, not 1979, is the place in crisis. The stench of decay is in the air.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger


It is the feeling you get when you visit the emergency department and the streaming nurse only appears once every 20 minutes. I first visited a UK hospital in 2003; at that time there was always someone there, 24 hours a day.

You can see it in the public libraries. The central library in my town no longer has a children's section; there is no money to replace worn-out books. Scars in the carpet bear mute testimony to the shelves that used to be there.

Stroll over to the schools and the story goes on. At my son's secondary school, one by one activities for special-needs children have been cut back or eliminated. The social skills group he used to attend is gone. He no longer has any friends. The school once had a librarian, who had him reading more books in one year than he had in the previous four. She was made redundant. Nothing we can do can persuade my son to touch a book now.

As for my daughter's primary school, its library is smaller than my closet. Donations from parents make up most of its intake of books. There is no money for book purchases. The room is usually deserted.

The local leisure centres are privatized. Telephone them to book swimming lessons; they do not answer the phone. Visit in person and it's hit or miss if you can actually find someone able to take your details.

One leisure centre has an ice rink, its web site says it offers children's birthday parties for a suitable price. My daughter wanted to hold her tenth there. We could not; we were unable to reach them by phone, at all.

With great fanfare my GP practice says that appointments can be made online, but they cannot. They are never available. Nobody at the surgery can explain why the web site always says 'no appointments'. One has to call the landline at precisely 8.00 am to have a chance at an appointment, but it is a fifty/fifty chance at best. You can be left on hold twenty minutes only to hear there is no appointment to be had.

It is all the immigrants' fault, they say. I am an immigrant. I have paid my taxes. In fact, I was even given a tax cut once; in 2012 the rate in income over £150,000 was cut from 50 to 45 percent. I would have given the money back to have a decent children's library.

In one sense I did - the Home Office extracted from our family thousands, literally thousands, of pounds in fees every time we renewed my work visa, applied for settlement, applied for citizenship.

Was that a mistake? The town centre is the saddest of all. Stores are shutting. Empty storefronts seem to mock shoppers. Fifteen years ago, I remember the central shopping centre being filled with throngs of shoppers on Saturday afternoons, and every storefront open. Now, there is row after row of empty space.

And yet unemployment is low, the government trumpets, consumer confidence is high. If this is prosperity, what will an actual recession look like?

More and more rough sleepers lie on the roads, mutely begging for more help than I dare to give. There are phone numbers one can call to seek help for them, but they only go to voicemail.

This does not feel like a growing, prospering country, ready to face the future free from the shackles of the EU.

Display:
I know, it's terrible isn't it?

And whatever you see in large towns is worse in smaller towns. The further you are from London the worse it gets.

I characterize it as the inevitable result of 40 years of Conservatism. Blair's decade doesn't count cos he was a tory as well and governed as one.

It's horrible here now and this is barely the beginning of the Weimar collapse we face. Stock up on wheelbarrows to carry your increasingly worthless money around.

If you can - get out while you still able to afford it.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Mar 25th, 2019 at 02:43:04 PM EST
It's a Tory paradise. The worse the public services, the better it is for private enterprise and profits. If you send your kids to private schools, have private medical insurance, a private pension, a nice car and don't depend on public transport, live in a nice house in a posh area - what's your problem?

You can shop online or in out of town shopping centres, enjoy your high-end tax rebates and foreign holidays, have your meals delivered by zero hours contract workers and your security secured by private security companies. Go to Ascot, watch the Queen, see England win at soccer again and listen to some aging Britpop band.

Stop remoaning...and GET ON WITH IT. It's what the British people want. I read it in the Telegraph...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 25th, 2019 at 04:31:58 PM EST
Die Zeit
Die meisten Serien verflachen nach der zweiten oder dritten Staffel, beim Brexit ist es anders. Je länger die Serie dauert, desto toller wird der Plot. Am Mittwochabend lief die bislang tollste Folge: Erst stellt die ungeliebte Premierministerin ihren Rücktritt in Aussicht, daraufhin lenken einige ihrer schärfsten Rivalen ein. Die Abgeordneten reißen die Initiative an sich, es sieht so aus, als würde das Blatt sich wenden. Doch am Ende einigen sich die Abgeordneten wieder einmal - auf nichts. Tumult bricht aus, der Abspann läuft. "Order", ruft John Bercow. Bitte bleiben Sie dran! Gleich geht es weiter.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Mar 28th, 2019 at 10:27:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If this is prosperity, what will an actual recession look like?

It will look, as it always does, like another opportunity for the wealthy to further consolidate wealth by snapping up yet more assets on the cheap.

by rifek on Mon Mar 25th, 2019 at 08:32:34 PM EST
Is it that feeling of despair which led you to vote for Leave three years ago?
by Bernard on Mon Mar 25th, 2019 at 09:10:30 PM EST
< wipes tears >

Reminds me of a story a few years back --well before the wee weed revolution and Trump-- (I wish I could find it again) about a town in Colorado that deliberately voted in the nutty libertarian Republican who'd been dogging the Dem mayor for years. Dude was LOADED. That was his credential. They all were so cocky. &#!@$ got so bad in town by the time they could vote 'im out, everyone had PTSD. The lesson the town learned made their hard knocks newsworthy.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Mar 25th, 2019 at 10:29:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Colorado Springs?

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Tue Mar 26th, 2019 at 12:57:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for that. 2011 - 2015. No Dem incumbent: I sit corrected. Told y'all I wasn't fluent in psycho.
Bach had made a campaign promise to serve only one term. But the promise wasn't necessary--by 2015, he, along with everyone else, knew the then-71-year-old's chances for reelection were close to zero.
alrighty then. 4 years in the wilderness.

The case for NO extension is made. Some people truly have to learn the hard way.


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Mar 26th, 2019 at 03:47:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep. Although a big part of what happened subsequently was that the population overflow from Denver, 100 km to the north, started pushing housing prices in Colorado Springs through the ceiling. It's still the political  equivalent of Orange County, CA.
by asdf on Tue Mar 26th, 2019 at 01:26:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Half of Colorado Springs DOES have PTSD, acquired the hard way - in the military - well not half, but a lot.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Mar 31st, 2019 at 04:18:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Leave promised things would get better if the UK left. It didn't say how, in detail, but it didn't need to.

Enough people believed the politicians and the targeted Facebook ads selling this nonsense to push the result over the edge.

For lingering Leavers - decreasing in number, but not nearly fast enough - the fantasy is still there.

Leave and recover your power, your agency, your self-respect - as an individual, a country, a race.

So yes - that was the reason.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Mar 26th, 2019 at 12:29:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nobody actually knows if things will get better or worse.
by asdf on Tue Mar 26th, 2019 at 01:27:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If things get better: thanks to Brexit and taking back control.
If things get worse (much more likely): the evil unelected Eurocrats in Brussels are plotting to punish Britain for having had the temerity to leave the racket that is the EU, evil empire, German 4th reich, French new Napoleonic empire, Soviet Union, you name it...
by Bernard on Tue Mar 26th, 2019 at 09:01:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No official Treasury estimate shows the UK being better off with Brexit. And there's no rational reason why things should improve after Brexit. And even Jacob Rees-Mogg says that any benefits may take at least fifty years to appear.

So it doesn't seem you're correct.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Mar 26th, 2019 at 11:33:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Forty years (time for the Brexiters to die off) according to Johnson
Boris Johnson has urged Theresa May to "channel Moses" and tell the EU to "let my people go".
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Mar 26th, 2019 at 11:48:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Looking forward to the day Boris parts the waters and leads the slaves back from Dover...

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Mar 26th, 2019 at 11:51:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Channel Moses.

But perhaps I'm being too literal.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Mar 26th, 2019 at 11:51:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh I totally agree that the projections say what they say.

The thing is, though, that over on this side of the pond we are living in a national state of complete and utter unpredictability. Predictions and projections and strategic analyses are not worth anything at the moment.

by asdf on Tue Mar 26th, 2019 at 03:19:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Leave and recover your power, your agency, your self-respect - as an individual, a country, a race."

Of course that was and is irrational. The problem is and has been domestic - all of the crazed voters who put some bizarre ideology or ideation over their clear self interest and the sociopathic Conservatives that they duly elected. It is the Conservatives that the UK needs to leave, not the E.U. This 'government' and their supporters are in a terminal snit. Sad for the rest.

Hope the USA avoids similar derangement. 2020 will be the tell.


"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Mar 31st, 2019 at 04:26:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Racism is never rational.  Mix in political and economic despair, and you have a situation about as stable as condemned nitroglycerin.
by rifek on Fri Apr 12th, 2019 at 02:13:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
An anonymous Labour MP writes, Copied from a friend on FB, not a public post so quoting in full

Secret diary of an MP. TLDR: 'I feel completely helpless, humiliated and frightened, the democratic process is breaking down.'

I am a Labour MP who voted Remain, representing a constituency that voted heavily to Leave. I'm torn in two. I want to be accountable, I want to be involved, but I sit uselessly and helplessly, trapped in a Commons that's falling to pieces at a time of national crisis. This diary is my silent scream.

I'm one of the 650. We'll all get the blame when the ship sinks, but in truth you might as well have put a dead cat in there instead of me; it would have had as much of a role as I've had in the Brexit discussions. Want to know what that feels like? It's embarrassing, humiliating and hugely, overwhelmingly frustrating.
At a time of looming disaster, there's this awful feeling of paralysis. The regional whip told me at the weekend that I'd need to be in Westminster all this week. We don't know when the votes are coming, what the votes will be or what our position is, but we know we need you there. In other words, we know nothing. But for yet another week, all my constituency engagements have been cancelled.

We're not alone. Most Tory MPs know nothing. Right now it feels like most of the cabinet knows nothing. It's all about one woman, the prime minister, and she's in a bunker so deep that no one can reach her.

I sought out some Tory mates last week. They're very senior in the party. I wanted them to tell me that despite appearances to the contrary, Theresa May was actually a fantastic poker player, that great minds were being consulted and the country was in safe hands. Back came no reassurance whatsoever. Her master plan, it seems, is to survive until the next day. If that doesn't fill you with terror, nothing will.

Where's Labour in all this? It has no voice and no seat at the table. If we were a strong opposition, we'd be challenging a lot more effectively and we probably wouldn't have tumbled into this black hole quite so quickly. We'd have seen it coming and done something about it.

We're not strong on this because we're so divided. Jeremy's completely ambivalent. Len McCluskey is really, really against a second referendum but most of the shadow cabinet are Londoners and want a People's Vote. Jeremy tries to appease both sides, so we've never really had a clear position, nor been open about what that is. Keir Starmer's doing a fabulous job but he's not in the party's top tier of decision-making, so the door gets shut on him as much as it does on everyone else.

You end up with the absurdity of a government with the lowest approval rating for years that's still neck and neck with Labour in the opinion polls. When you're chatting with Tories they'll say, "It's amazing, we just do one f***-up after another. This government's a total disaster and yet every time we screw up you lot save us by coming out and doing something worse." It's extraordinary, but it's true.

When I set off for the Commons today, it felt a bit like leaving for war or the funeral of a close relative. Friends texted to wish me luck. People at the station came up and said I should keep going, that this is survivable. I'm not so sure. I feel darkness and impotence and dread.

And it's all so utterly exhausting, which is really weird because physically, obviously, you're not doing anything, and intellectually you're not doing anything because you're not involved in any of the negotiations. It's more a spiritual weariness and it comes from a sense of foreboding, guilt and helplessness.

What's so frustrating is that I know I could contribute. If they let me, I could work on this. If they gave me a role, I'd work until I dropped down dead to try to get the best outcome for this country. Instead you sit there, waiting, in a constant state of anxiety. Because any moment now, something else might go wrong and make things even worse. It's on my watch but what can I do? Bugger all.

The terrifying truth is that the democratic structures we all put our faith in have turned out to be made of sand. Yes, I'm an MP. There are hundreds of us here this week. We're supposed to be taking decisions that will affect our country for generations to come but you know what? Right now I don't even feel like a tiny cog in this machine. Most of us here are as bewildered as everyone outside the Commons. That's truly frightening.



keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Mar 26th, 2019 at 10:03:42 PM EST
This rant is a long cry of despair at his/her perceived helplessness and inability to make a contribution, but you get no sense of what s/he would actually do if s/he did have the power to implement a particular policy.

He voted Remain (and doesn't seem to have changed his mind) but represents a constituency that voted heavily in favour of leave. But in the UK's system of parliamentary sovereignty it his responsibility to lead - not to slavishly follow a policy he believes to be wrong - even if it means s/he will be voted out at the next election.

Being and MP isn't meant to be an easy ride. You have to make tough choices, build support for them, and ultimately accept the verdict of your party members and constituents on your performance. People can respect you even if they disagree with you if they think you have an arguable case, are putting your argument well, and have the integrity to be open and honest about it.

So I don't buy this excuse for ineffectuality. As an MP s/he has a far greater opportunity than most people to build support and alliances for his/her policy choices  and to show leadership.

If s/he is being no more effective than a dead cat s/he should resign and make way for someone better able to make use of the opportunities being an MP provides him/her.

.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 26th, 2019 at 11:30:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm reminded of two Edmund Burke quotes:

  1. Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion.

  2. Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.
by rifek on Wed Mar 27th, 2019 at 12:04:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or as Tusk might put it, "hell has a special place for those who but whinge and whine, when they should have a plan for dealing with the issues which confront them..."

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Mar 27th, 2019 at 12:18:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Was that a mistake? The town centre is the saddest of all. Stores are shutting. Empty storefronts seem to mock shoppers. Fifteen years ago, I remember the central shopping centre being filled with throngs of shoppers on Saturday afternoons, and every storefront open. Now, there is row after row of empty space.

And yet unemployment is low, the government trumpets, consumer confidence is high. If this is prosperity, what will an actual recession look like?

That could easily describe vast swaths of the US. What you describe could easily be my current town. Something has gone terribly wrong in both countries. For the UK, it seems to have begun with Thatcher. For us, it was Ronnie the Raygun. Whatever flavor of capitalism one may call it, I can safely conclude it has left so much in ruins. Ordinarily I am an optimist. It is hard for me to find the silver lining.

"There are no innocents. There are, however, different degrees of responsibility." -- Lisbeth Salander

by Don Durito on Thu Mar 28th, 2019 at 02:58:45 AM EST
It's the imbalance between capital and labour.

When unemployment was low and labour had bargaining power, growth had to be shared. Mechanically.

Now that capital has (definitively, in my view) the upper hand, the dynamic is broken.
 

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Mar 28th, 2019 at 05:56:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Two major industries (and a legion of only-slightly-less important ones have profited mightily while the pauperisation of the proletariat/precariat has run amok.
What good is the fact that you can buy a $1 screwdriver if you're homeless, especially if it breaks only after a week?
That's the supposed payoff all this evisceration for all but the micro-few 1%.
Those two areas of the economy are fossil fuels and finance.
Since the Carter years and the invention of PV and wind turbine tech, if the 'deciders' had listened to the ecologists we could have had that Green New Deal they're still play-toying with while the planet ambiental forces are starting to react with ever more emphasis to our nest-fouling ways.
Energy companies beat back progress for those crucial decades, stymying and pooh-poohing, deriding, smearing, and mostly bribing, the whole 9 yards, buying congress and the Senate to continue funding and subsidising fossil fuels, suburbia and individual road transport.
Decades, down the drain.
Finance developed new channels for hiding money and new exotic casino games to suck the nest eggs of millions into the omelette of their profits, our losses.
The drug of privilege this relatively effortless hijack conferred was so strong and addictive, what was merely amoral became immoral as facts were hidden in secret reports that proved said 'deciders' knew the consequences of their actions.
The key players in these two kingpin industries have determined the fate of civilisation's future, and almighty is their grip. Millions have died in the wars dedicated to fostering this paradigm.
Running national economies while a huge proportion of the wealth created by workers is foxholed away leads to a situation similar to a popular challenge at state fairs: running an engine with no oil in the crankcase and taking bets on how long it would go before... (please supply adequate descriptor here).
The US and the UK have operated the socio-economic machinery from behind the curtains since the pirate days of the 16thC.
Now in full noxious flower, still trying to deny what any fule know, still buying influence and ripping off countries, tribes, whole peoples of their birthright in the name of cutthroat crony capitalism, wealth to the crafty, poverty for the rest.
Fat ladies fighting over the last, highest catcall of them all.
Trump is a fitting apotheosis to this horrific carnival of clever-clever dunces.


'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Mar 30th, 2019 at 11:18:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Mar 28th, 2019 at 10:38:34 AM EST
Vinay Lal, History of British India, Lec 02

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Fri Mar 29th, 2019 at 08:21:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
British-Ireland speaks out.
Sinn Fein's support plummets after 'England get out of Ireland' banner controversy "at the St Patrick's Day parade in New York City"

< pick teeth, suck vigorously >

Tanaiste Simon Coveney said the banner was offensive, divisive and an embarrassment" and called on Ms McDonald to "grow up".
of course, he did.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sun Mar 31st, 2019 at 12:36:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
tbh, if it wasn't for an ongoing majority in Ulster who wish to stay British, the English would have abandoned the place decades back.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Apr 1st, 2019 at 01:36:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
well yes, but when we did agree to go, we did so with such indecent haste that both Pakistan and India still blame the British for the mess they're in.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Apr 1st, 2019 at 01:25:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So "calling for a general election" is an "alternative BREXIT plan"? I don't understand how this delays "no-deal".

It scarcely qualifies for a surety asked of EU extension, does it? : An utterly unknown outcome of a "constitutional" act unrelated to MEP elections or WA ratification.

Perhaps I missed a transmittal from Don Brussels to Westminster.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Mar 31st, 2019 at 01:28:09 AM EST
General election and referendum both sound unlikely, given that neither side is confident of a win. Not to mention the timeline, and the MEP elections that would be required, and the howling--or worse--from the brexiteers.
by asdf on Sun Mar 31st, 2019 at 02:08:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Forget them. UK political dysphoria is long beyond the Pale: integrity, concept of, or compassion, syn: pity.

May explores idea of bringing Brexit deal back for 4th vote
wtf: "The alternative to 'no-deal' is to delay Brexit for at least several months while Britain tries to sort out the mess."

If EU Council lets any of their "alternative" plans not to ratify the WA slide, EU Council will have created a bigger credibility problem than it already has for "cohesion" and "democracy" in EU27. I think, even 22 May deadline is problematic, given conditions in UK. My reasoning has little to do with unanimity in the Council; that can be arranged.

Rather, participation in Election 2019 will drop like rock along with EP conciliation, along with "certainty" in money markets and inter-state trade.

What's the watchword? o, yeah. "Trump wins."

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Mar 31st, 2019 at 02:55:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
UK gets blunt advice as chaotic Brexit becomes more likely
The EU negotiated a long post-Brexit transition period with May. But it was linked to the overall agreement that hasn't won approval in Parliament ...
Yet another demonstration of the power of the press.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Apr 2nd, 2019 at 05:04:40 PM EST


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