Occupy Democracy: Exposing the weakness of our value system

Matthew Rees from the Centre for Policy Studies has just written an article claiming that the people at the Occupy Democracy site in Parliament square bemoaning the infringement of their civil liberties for having tarpaulins taken off them, are doing civil liberties a disservice by trivialising what he deems are “genuine attacks” on civil liberties, such as the illegal tapping of journalists phones.

Freedom is the freedom

Founded by Sir Keith Joseph and Margaret Thatcher in 1974, it would at this point be easy to comment on the right-wing think tank a apart for its political alignment, but then that would make me no better than them. Instead I would rather concentrate on the crux of the argument about whether one form of infringement on civil liberties is worse than another or if it is all the same? I have heard this referred to previously as the “least worst offence.”

To quote Matthew Rees he states: “Eye-witness accounts of police heavy-handedness have been widely reported in the news this week, and rightly so. A number of arrests have been made so far but many appear to be for relatively minor offences..” but tempers this with another quote later on stating: “The health of true civil liberties in this country is a cause for concern. The introduction of ‘secret trials’ and closed material procedures by the Justice and Security Act 2013, which prohibits the disclosure of ‘sensitive’ legal material to the public and defendant, is undoubtedly a cause for concern. In addition, recently exercised police powers to search the confidential phone records of journalists, the spate of surveillance and anti-terror measures enacted in the last decade, and diminished access to justice are all real threats to civil liberties.

I would agree that the very existence of secret trials, the pressure applied to the Guardian’s Greenwald over the Snowden files and the numerous bills, acts and bylaws passed in parliament over the last 15 years are all gross attempts at curtailing our civil liberties but, crucially, that does not make these any more or less important than the breaches of civil liberties and the right to protest found by the people at the Occupy Democracy camp, or rather the noticeable lack of one. Rees makes reference to the Hong Kong protestors and the claim by journalist Donnachadh McCarthy that we are now less democratic than China, to some extent that much is true with tents pitched on highways, structures and tarpaulin clear and present. Here, in the UK, a simple piece of string attached to a sign and a bag to stop it flying into the road was deemed to be an illegal structure by the private security firm apparently marshalling our MET police officers. Rees describes this as ‘camp rhetoric’ but it could not be further from the truth. It is the same argument and debate. The severity of the perceived scale of injustice is not what counts but the fact that an injustice has occurred in the first instance, this is all that matters. Martin Luther King said that an injustice anywhere was an injustice everywhere, to accept the disproportionate treatment of humans at an occupy democracy protest by police because it is the ‘least worst’ case is unacceptable and is rightly challenged and called out.

At this point I could quote the famous pastor Niemoller’s ‘First They Came‘ poem or another quote from Malcolm X or Martin Luther King about freedom and liberty but think that the most relevant thing to say would be to compare the views expressed by Rees and that of the philosophy of the boiling frog; if you put a frog into boiling water, it jumps straight out. If you put it into a pot of cold water and turn the heat up gradually it will boil alive. That is the reality of the views expressed by Matthews Rees, exposing the weakness of our value system in putting greater value on one set of freedoms over that of others we risk losing them all and why we must challenge it at every turn.





To vote, or not to vote: You have a greater choice in breakfast cereal than in your political spectrum

This morning the BBC took its place alongside the government propaganda machine in encouraging the young to go out and vote at the next election, with an estimated 800000 young voters (age 18-21) missing from the electoral register. Ministers are allegedly concerned that further changes to the voting system will affect the integrity of the electoral system, as if the entire political systems integrity has not already been compromised. To challenge this a new initiative is being pushed out to highlight the importance of voting to youngsters and they continue to pour scorn on Russell Brand’s views in the meantime.

The young adults are given topics to discuss such as whether the £9bn spent on the 2012 Olympics was money well spent and what their views are on capital punishment. Following lengthy debate, their votes are cast on each subject. Topics such as these are used as a means to engage young minds in topics that may interest them, rather than to leave them at the mercy of a stuffy politician that has already been undermined by expenses scandals and their upcoming pay hike during a time of severe austerity.

The group is then split to reflect the percentage of 18-21 year olds that are currently registered nationally to vote, with the rest indicating the percentage of the unregistered. The results of the entire groups votes on capital punishment are revealed (with the majority stating that they opposed it) but that this was not necessarily reflected within the sample group of people eligible to vote. The moral of the story being that the minority are deciding for the majority. This much is true but not in the essence in which the group nor the BBC are reporting it. There is a minority group of people influencing the lives of the majority but it is not the handful of people who are voting, it is the suits in the corridors of corruption in parliament, their lobbyist friends, banks, big business, big pharma and the military industrial complex. One such example of this being jolly George Osborne’s best man’s Hedge Fund company, who made a hefty profit from the recent privatisation of the Royal Mail after they bought £50m shares prior to its sale.

Another example of democracy not working in your favour were the recent cuts to the London Fire Brigades frontline services, something that both the Prime Minister and London Mayor pledged to protect, yet when it came to it, they have cut over 1200 jobs in just over 4 years nationwide, whilst the Mayor perversely claims that Londoners will be safer despite the closures of 10 stations and the loss of almost 600 jobs. This came despite both Londoners and the London Assembly voting against the cuts at every avenue throughout the supposed consultation process. 


The thing about democracy and voting is that if it changed anything, they would not let you do it, hence the gagging law that has been passed recently in parliament. This is a truth that seems to have escaped most because we get a long with our daily lives without looking any deeper than the information that is put to us at regular daily intervals. The role of the Trade Unions in the 21st century are perhaps another such an example. It could be argued that since the days of Thatcher and the miners strikes in the 1980’s, trade unions are now largely accepted by both government and employers because they have managed to change the laws enough to neuter any real influence they can have over any given argument, such are the anti-trade union laws and the establishment have also conducted a relatively good job in convincing workers that they do not matter (which could not be any further from the truth). In some countries unions are outright banned and if they dare to start, agitate or be involved in union activities it can and does result in a murky death, Are such groups then only allowed in the UK because the establishment believes they have watered down their rights just enough to prevent whole scale challenge to their draconian rules?

The media and the politicians are desperately crawling around to encourage people to vote in 2015 because I think they have figured out that a disenfranchised electorate, who refuses to comply by the rules of a game that the system created and are in charge of, by going to the ballot box when told, are the ones with the right to stand up and shout about what is going on around them and to them and that poses the system a real problem in the future. By voting you legitimising the economic violence being waged upon you, the poor and working poor daily because that is what you chose. The difference between all parties at present is only in the colour of their badge, their policies closely match and all we are left with is the illusion of choice. Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher were interested in winning the population contest but not so our current pithy leaders, because there is nothing to choose between them. Let us not forget that the largest transference of economic wealth, from the poor to the rich, took place on Labour’s watch with the bailout, something like £1.2 something something trillion (the figure is astronomical) and the Tories are playing the same tune. The LibDems are just looking for some mates. Do not forget that the Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls’ favourite line for sometime has been that the cuts are “too far, too quick” and so to the other Ed (Miliband) when he addressed the million people in Hyde Park on March 26th 2011 telling them the same thing. Not one of these parties wants to address the fact that between them and the maverick bankers in the city of corruption, they have squandered more money than there is in circulation to basically satisfy the gambling needs of power addicts and this majority do a disservice to the handful of women and men in parliament who might do the right thing given half a chance, if they were not marginalised on behalf of the business elite. 

Until such times as there is a real choice to be made between our political parties and true democracy is allowed for the people, no one can be blamed from abstaining and carrying on the fight for direct democracy.












The biggest threat to our way of life are not our governments or the terrorists they claim to be chasing across the globe. It is our apathy.

The Royal Mail, educational system, NHS and emergency services have been built by the blood, sweat and tears of you and your grandparents, going back 100 years. Today they are seen as cash cows for corrupt politicians and their privateer friends to siphon off billions in public money, to line their private pockets and they are using the veil of austerity to do so. They have managed, somewhat convincingly, to persuade a large section of society that austerity is both real and necessary and are praying on our apathy to resist.

Alessio Rastani once  told us that a recession is not bad for everyone, that it is an opportunity to make money; this is not a recession or a recovery, it is a robbery.

Worryingly this agenda is being pursued by both Labour and Conservatives alike, one hard and fast and the other a kind of “I can’t believe it’s not austerity”, or “austerity-lite” approach. Either way the end result is the same. Hard working people are being forced to bare the brunt of paying for a crisis created by corrupt politicians, rogue bankers and immoral (if not illegal) banking practices,  not once (with the bailout) but two or three times over with respect to the austerity and cuts we have seen since. In the meantime these pigs at the trough of public money have used our taxpayers money to pay for their second homes, heat horses stables, order a £39 breakfast (whilst telling us we can live on £52 a week) and are set to take an 11% pay rise leaving the rest of us with their scraps on zero hour contracts and lining up at food banks hoping for a meal ticket. You cannot make it up. The leaders of both these parties are no longer interested in popularity contests (as Thatcher or Blair might have been) at election time because there are common themes, goals and aims amongst them. They are ultimately all gorging themselves at the same trough of public money and broadly speaking, their sole interest is themselves and we have allowed them to with our apathy.

The NHS as mentioned has already been paid for by our parents and grandparents, the problem we have is that far too few of us are old enough to remember a time when you would had to pay for a doctor call out and all the associated care that goes with it, even less have stopped to think about the dangers we all face because of privatisation. Some may think that they will see no real problem and no real change because they already have some form of private medical care, paid for either by their employer or private policy but the key point here is that these private firms are currently backed up and supported by the publicly owned and funded NHS. Even the Royal spawn, despite all its top private care, was delivered in a private hospital, ably supported by the “full weight of resources of the NHS” should anything have gone wrong. Kay Burleigh from SKY News told us just after we found out how dilated Katie was.

Where will this support network be once the lot has been sold of to the great bearded one, Richard Branson?

In the case of the NHS, our politicians have gone to great lengths to show us how badly the NHS is failing and have been duly assisted by a complicit mainstream media, none more so than our publicly owned and funded BBC, who reel off story after story about “nurses on safari” looking for patients or failing NHS trusts. As bad as some of these stories may be, these are an infinitesimally small percentage of the millions of people treated by wonderful doctors, nurses and paramedics every day of the year, any time we call on them. Where are our survivor stories?
Along with the horror stories run by the mainstream media, the government also repeatedly tell us that immigrants (who are not even here yet) are to blame for the failure and capacity issues of our A&E departments etc and now they intend for people to prove their origins before they are treated at A&E? You cannot make it up. These blatant lies and scapegoating about immigrants are used to prey on people’s fears and prejudices, manufactured by a corrupt elite to deflect our attention on their intent to walk away with billions in profit at the cost of our health and welfare.

How has it come to privatisation? The process to privatisation is a simple but effective one; first the government goes through a period of de-funding which creates an environment for failure, you then assess to failure and they are reported with the cost to make improvements being amplified as a result. The privateers then swoop in with the answer to take ever-increasing costs and liabilities off of the taxpayers hands, all the while feeding you distraction stories of immigrants, bad nurses and creating apathy to convince you that a nice guy like Branson will make a good job of it.

Really? He is a businessman whose sole  purpose and drive is about making money. Would you really want someone in charge of something that makes money solely off of the death and illness of people? The only way they can make profit from a service such as the NHS is by charging us for treatments, reducing wages of the nurses providing the majority of the care (not the execs, they get paid off to push through change) and by generally hanging us out to dry. See how cheap health insurance will be  when they know you cannot rely on the NHS and they have us at their mercy. These firms will have cornered the market and will drive up prices. Just look at what the energy firms are preparing to do this winter with nearly 10% increase in price’s or the announcement of another increase in our rail fares.

The apathy they are trying to foster enables them to impose these changes because we feel we cannot make a difference and that we cannot make a change. We have given up our power and we have to take it back. One person can make a difference and everyone should do so, if we do not start offering a resistance to these attacks now and come to realise we have more in common with each other than with these merciless privateers and criminals running the country, then we will quite literally be cut adrift.

We can do this by winning the hearts and minds of the people around us, taking interest in each other’s causes and not waiting for people to come to us, we can withdraw economically from certain corporations to redistribute the pain, we can write music, draw, sing and create art – the true way of protesting and engaging the hearts and minds of others. We inherited a world of opportunity from our parents, we have a duty to hand it on to the next generation in a better state than the one we have inherited and not sell it from under them for a fist full of dollars.