Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Brand Backlash (Or How I Learned Never To Criticise The Liberal Elite)

Earlier this week, a freelance IT contractor currently working at RBS published a tongue in cheek "open letter" to Russell Brand on their blog. The recurring comedic theme was that the closure of the building precipitated by Brand and his camera crew's unscheduled visit had resulted in his lunch going cold.

Within the blog, the writer points out that Brand's grandstanding and theatrics were unlikely to achieve anything as he didn't have an appointment, and therefore was never going to get into the building uninvited. It also accuses Brand of being confrontational both with building security and those stranded outside by his antics. It examines the taxpayer investment in the banks during the financial crisis. 

At no point does it attempt to defend RBS or any other bank. It makes clear that the writer is not an employee of RBS, right from the very outset, and that what follows is not intended to be any sort of statement from the bank itself, the banking industry or bankers.

On the whole, it's a pretty well-written, lighthearted piece. You can read it here:

After it hit the internet, the blog went viral. Lots of people sharing it online, having a giggle at the concept and the content.

Well today came the backlash.

Driven on by some high-profile Guardianistas - for whom Brand seems to have acquired some sort of Messiah status of late - the writer has been attacked as variously a banker, an employee of RBS and a symptom of all that's wrong with Britain today, the rich complaining about being inconvenienced by those campaigning for social justice.

Accuracy seems to have taken a back seat to the need to protect Brand's reputation as some sort of crusader for the poor. This is a man whose appetite for equality has seemingly enjoyed some kind of Lazarusesque recovery, the kind of man who turns up to a masked protest and takes his mask off so the press can find - and of course, record for posterity - his presence.

He is, what we in sporting circles like to call, a bandwaggoner. The sort of person ripe for a bit of a satirical sideswipe. That his fans/acolytes feel so threatened at any criticism of him that they need to unleash their attack dogs on a blog is in equal part nauseating and bemusing. Whatever they expect to achieve as a result, it only leaves one set of people coming out of this looking like arrogant, petty little crybabies. Them.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Three Shades of Blue

When I was growing up and starting to become politically active, you had a choice. You could either vote Labour if you had a conscience, vote Conservative if you thought you were alright and didn't give a shit about anyone else, or vote Liberal if you wanted to waste your vote.

That was the way it was. The poor voted Labour, everyone else voted Conservative.

Then it all changed. The Conservatives imploded over just how shitty they could be to the plebs, and left the door open for one Anthony Charles Lynton Blair.

Blair was never your typical Labour politician. A middle-class kid, with a public school education and an Oxford graduate not shy of discussing his faith, Blair was parachuted into a safe seat in the former coalfield town of Sedgefield.

Under his leadership, Labour shifted away from the left of British politics towards the centre ground. He moved away from the traditional links with the unions, and targeted the middle-class with a social conscience who had become disaffected with the Tories.

Middle England became the battleground on which elections would be fought, and as a result the target audience the political parties needed to appeal to. With their own core support pretty secure in traditional areas and pretty much guaranteed to vote for them, parties could focus their policies on the middle classes.

So you get where we are today. Ed Miliband has announced the headlines of what will form Labour's 2015 election manifesto. In summary, it's pretty much the same as the Tories are doing at the moment, except slightly less of it and not as quickly.

More pay freezes. More cuts to public services. No plans to raise funds through taxing the super-rich. It's a blue budget, dressed up in a red overcoat. Her Majesty's Opposition are now so interchangeable with the government that you could swap them over and nobody would be able to tell the difference.

So there's your choice for 2015. You can have cuts, in some form or another, to public services. You can have more food banks. You can have more of the rich getting richer, and the poor getting screwed. If you're not middle-class, middle-income Middle England, neither the Tories nor Labour care about you. The LibDems are the equivalent of flushing your vote down the toilet, and don't even get me started on the bigotry that is UKIP.

You want my advice? If you're in Scotland, vote SNP. If you're in Wales, vote Plaid Cymru. The rest of you, vote Green. At least that way you'll get someone promoting a genuine alternative to the three shades of blue the major parties are offering.