Tag Archives: right-wing clichés

Right-Wing Clichés (#6): Work is the best route out of poverty

How many times have you heard a government minister say “Work is the best route out of poverty”? How would they know? They have never been impoverished nor have they been forced into a situation where they’ve had to work in a low paid job, struggling to pay bills and rent. David Cameron repeats the line often enough, but even when he was a student at Oxford, he wasn’t living in a cold, damp, miserable student house. He had the best accommodation money could buy. He didn’t have to go to his local Jobcentre and sift through loads of poorly paid, menial jobs that offer no future and, more importantly, the route out of poverty that he claims to speak of with such authority. His daddy had contacts. The Queen’s equerry even phoned Carlton Television and acted as his referee . How many ordinary people does that happen to?

If you’re a woman and you come from a working class background, the only ‘opportunities’ to make a decent amount of money are in the sex industry. More and more working class women are being forced into making these kinds of choices and perhaps worst of all, the message that comes from government and people like Catherine Hakim, who filleted Bourdieu’s concept of cultural capital to devise her ‘concept’ of “erotic capital”, is that if you’re a working class woman, you’re only good enough to be ogled, fondled and fucked in the car park by some grubby businessman for a tenner. It comes as no surprise to The Cat that Hakim works for the Thatcherite think-tank, the Centre for Policy Studies.

Work that pays the minimum wage (or less) actually locks people into poverty. If you are working in low paid job, you are forced to work endless hours of overtime (for the same amount of money) to make ends meet.This means you don’t have much of a life. It also means that you don’t have the time to look for work that pays more money. You may be in a zero hours contract or have been forced into ‘self-employment’. If you are, then you know that if you don’t work, you don’t get paid. You have to work even if you’re ill. The only thing that raises people out of poverty is greater access to opportunities. Under the present neoliberal system, the possibilities of this happening are small to non-existent, because the jobs that pay the best money are reserved for those people who come from wealthy and powerful families.

So next time you hear a Tory tell you that “work is the best route out of poverty”, you laugh and laugh hard, because he or she has no evidence to support their contention. One Tory told me that the working class were “richer” at the end of the 19th century than at the beginning of that century. Spot the logic fail.

David Cameron is the Queen’s fifth cousin.

 

 

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Right-wing clichés (#5) “Our ‘generous’ benefits system”

As if telling us there’s no poverty in Britain wasn’t enough (or, alternatively, poverty is a ‘left-wing conspiracy’), the right never tire of telling us how ‘generous’ the benefits system is. Of course it isn’t generous at all and if you compare Britain’s out of  work benefits to those in the rest of Europe, you will see that people in France, Germany or even Ireland (where you get a Christmas bonus) get enough money to live on, while in Britain it is impossible to sustain oneself and pay bills on a paltry £74 a week.

Of course, the worst part of this narrative is the way the right seeks to justify its disdain for EU immigrants and others, by telling us there is something called ‘benefit tourism’, where hordes of Bulgarians, Romanians and Albanians pour into the UK to live on less than a subsistence wage.  You’d have to be really stupid to think Britain is the place to come to claim benefits – but that’s the right for you. Like a dog returning to its own vomit, the right returns to the same lies and myths again and again and again.

Hysterical and delusional the right is incapable of grasping the fact that not a single jobless person can survive long on benefits without getting into serious debt. Worse still, is the right’s constant message of “making work pay”, when wages have been stagnating for the better part of 15 years.  Then there’s the “work lifts people out of poverty” myth. Low paid work actually keeps people in poverty. As thinking goes, the right’s thinking is full of gaps. I’d be surprised if these people could tie their own shoelaces without nanny or a servant to do it for them.

Here’s the choice for most workers: live on payday loans or go hungry and cold. Either way, you’re fucked. The payday loans companies, owned mainly by hedge funds, appear to have a compact with the Tories. They want wages to stay low so that they and their bloodsucking pals in the credit card companies can keep people economically enslaved. Friedrich von  Hayek’s book The Road to Serfdom made the bold claim that a socialist economy would lead to serfdom, it seems he was talking out of his arse. The system that he so loved is the one that’s returning people to the days of feudalism.

It’s time to agitate for a Citizen’s Income.  Now who’s with me?

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Telegraph Comment of the Week (#4)

The competition for Telegraph Comment of the Week has been fierce with as many as four contenders. These right-wingers really know how to produce the laughs.

This comment from “Spirit_of_Godfrey_of_Bouillon” is the best of the bunch. Hat tip Suusi M-B for this one, which was found on this Telegraph article by Iain Martin.

Godfrey of Bullshit

In case you were wondering, “Godfrey of Bouillon” was one of the Frankish leaders of the disastrous First Crusade. It is highly likely that “Godfrey of Bullshit”, as I prefer to call him, is a nutty nationalist and an idiot Islamophobe.

What I find amusing about this comment, apart from its glaring medical inaccuracy, is its tick box list of right-wing pet hates.

Godfrey of Bullshit, you’re a winner!

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Right-wing clichés (#3): The ‘loony left’

The phrase “loony left” is one that is much beloved of the British Right. It made its first appearance in the 1980s and has remained a staple of the Tory-supporting press to the present-day.

The Tory press has a long history of ridiculing the British Left, often portraying its policies as deranged and psychopathic. If you want to denigrate your political opponent without engaging with their arguments, what better way is there than to question their mental health? But the use of such language betrays the speakers’ fundamental ignorance of mental health concerns and is the mark of a bully. The ad hominem also reveals a lack of intellect on the part of the person using the phrase “loony left”.  They are incapable of discussion. But the use of this phrase was not confined to the Tory-supporting press, the liberal Guardian used it on occasion too. Even Right-wing Labour party members used it against their fellow members, thereby further damaging the party’s electoral prospects back in the 1980s. As this article from The Times (22 December 1986) tells us,

A senior member of Labour’s shadow cabinet is to urge Mr Neil Kinnock to purge the ‘loony left’ London councillors who, he believes, are bringing the Labour Party into disrepute.

The former minister is to write ‘a sharp note’ to the Labour leader calling on him to make plain that their actions were not ‘in the name of the Labour Party’.

He is also enclosing material handed out to school-children in Labour-controlled boroughs such as Haringey. These documents allegedly actively promote homosexuality, giving explicit details.

The move will embarrass the Labour leader still further when he is under pressure to divorce the party from the actions of extreme left-wing councils which he knows will lose votes.

Mr Kinnock has started the procedures which could expel Mr Tony Byrne, the new Liverpool Labour group leader, and Mr Tony Hood, the secretary, from the party.

He has attacked the ‘zealotry’ of some left-wing council leaders but could not afford to face a further party-splitting round of expulsions. Such a purge would inevitably centre on Mr Bernie Grant, the hard left leader of Haringey council, who has pursued the controversial policies on racism, sexism and the rights of homosexuals.

Mr Grant is to contest a safe Labour seat at the general election.

The former minister said his intervention came after a meeting with parents from Haringey who had complained about ‘what the Labour Party was doing in their schools’.

The above article is fairly typical and shows us how the phrase filtered its way into mainstream discourse. It is also interesting how the “senior member of the Labour party” is not named, which – given the the Tory press’s penchant for distortion – raises a few questions about the veracity of this article.

Examples of how this phrase “loony left” was deployed include the production of apocrypha like the clichéd “Baa Baa Black Sheep” story. This also tells us something about the quality of the Tory press: if it routinely fabricates stories and spreads falsehoods and lies, then it is not fit for purpose. It comes as no surprise that we find the most vociferous critics of the Leveson Inquiry are those so-called journalists who write for the Right-wing press (in other words, most British newspapers). It is they who have the most to lose from any regulation.  Indeed, proper journalists have nothing to fear. The desperate cries from Right-wing hacks that Britain will “no longer enjoy a free press” ring hollow. This country does not and  has never enjoyed a truly free press. Spreading lies and distortions is the business of propaganda ministries. Our newspaper industry would deny that it acts, as Chomsky would argue, as an unofficial ministry of information but this is exactly what it does.

The use of this phrase to describe certain Labour members and councils had the effect of dividing the party. The so-called ‘soft-Left’ was pitted against the so-called ‘hard-Left’. The culmination of this division and internecine strife resulted in the infamous anti-Militant witch-hunts and expulsions. Kinnock willingly jumped through hoops to please the Tory press and the Thatcher government. But I ask you this: what is so “loony” about striving for equality and social justice? I can’t see anything crazy about it.

Since the Tories were returned to power (without a mandate), they have returned to the phrase “loony left”. This tells us that the Conservatives are incapable of dealing with the present and unable to face the future; they have a constant need to relive the past – even if that past doesn’t exist in the popular memory. Referring to the Labour party as “left-wing”, which the Right often does, ignores the party’s slide to the Right under Blair. Take this article written by Bozza in February. Moonlighting as a journalist in the Daily Telegraph, he wrote,

Well isn’t that just great. Isn’t that just abso-flipping-lutely fan-blooming-tastic. Just when you thought the loony Left had reached rock bottom – with their sagacious proposals to “hang the bankers” and put taxes up to 80 per cent – they have come up with something even worse. There are so-called socialists in London who are now taking active steps to scupper young people’s chances of finding employment.

Here we are with an economy still taking ages to recover. We have more and more young people out of work, and who find themselves caught in a catch-22. They are told they can’t get a job unless they have some work experience; and they can’t get any work experience unless someone is willing to give them a job.

Unsurprisingly, such hatchet-jobs are appearing more frequently in the Tory press. The clueless Bozza can only hurl abuse at his ideological foes and repeat the spurious claim that unpaid work will set the young free. He closes with this,

The man who transformed modern Tesco didn’t arrive as an Oxbridge graduate trainee. Sir Terry Leahy began by sweeping floors.

And I’m willing to bet that Leahy was paid to sweep those floors. Today’s youngsters are expected to work for nothing.

Recently I blocked a follower on Twitter, who is a UKIP supporter. He would often retweet me using the hashtag “#loonyleft”. Debate me by all means, but don’t resort to ad hominems, it makes you look like a moron-  a rabid Right-wing moron.

References:

Gunn, S. (1986) “Kinnock is urged to expel ‘loony left'” in The Times, (22 December, 1986)

Johnson, B. (2012). “The loony left, out to destroy youngster’s hopes of a job” in The Daily Telegraph, (27 February, 2012)

Further reading:

Ivor Gaber (2005). “Slaying the Dragon”. In James Curran, Julian Petley, and Ivor Gaber. Culture wars: the media and the British left. Edinburgh University Press. pp. 197, 208–210

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Right-wing clichés (Part 2): It’s cruel to tax the rich

The libertarian right is fond of telling us that it’s cruel to tax the rich. Well, no it isn’t. If you earn more, you pay more tax. That’s just the way it is. It’s been that way since I started working 30 odd years ago and it hasn’t really changed. Of course, if you happen to be rich or a ‘wealth creator’ as this government describes those with large piles of cash, then you should be permitted to do all in your power to avoid paying tax.

This tweet from Alain de Botton sums it up beautifully,

Civic duty. If only. Those two words are noticeably absent from the Right’s vocabulary. Instead, what we hear is how the rich are somehow being ‘oppressed’ by those in low to average income brackets. It’s a Randian absurdity to be sure. The idea of responsibility is one that the British Right tend to insist from those at the bottom, but the richest in our society also need to take responsibility on a civic level. But they don’t; they don’t think they have to. The rich may use the road network, for example, but none of them want to pay for its upkeep.

In order to claim that they’re being fair, many on the Right propose the notion of the flat tax. This method of taxation means that each person will pay the same amount of tax regardless of their income or, presumably, the lack of it. The fatal flaw of the flat tax notion was best illustrated, albeit unwittingly, by Nicholas Ridley, chief architect of Britain’s industrial demise and principal designer of the Poll Tax, who once asked the question, “Why should a duke pay more than a dustman”? “Because he fucking can”, we replied. Logic? Not from this bunch.

There is nothing cruel about expecting those with vast incomes to pay more in tax. If you live in a nation-state (and to be honest, I wish I didn’t), then you must expect to pay something towards to upkeep of the country’s infrastructure. If, on the other hand, you don’t want to live in a nation-state and prefer to live in a place where there are no pubic services or infrastructure, then you can always go and live there. No one’s stopping you. If you’re that wealthy, then you can even pay for a private army to protect you. You can buy your own island if you so desire. But while you’re in this country, you’re going to have to accept the fact that you have to pay tax. Those of us at the bottom of the income ladder aren’t here to prop you up.

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Right-wing clichés (Part 1): The politics of envy

What exactly does the phrase “politics of envy” mean? Well, to the Tories (their right libertarian chums), it means that they see anyone who isn’t one of them or who doesn’t have the same amount of economic, social and cultural capital as being ‘envious’ of them. This well-worn cliché has been around for the better part of 50 years and is rolled out each time the Tories are criticized for engaging in blatant class war and shoring up the interests of their class (i.e. handing out tax cuts for the rich, while making the poor and low-waged pay for them; or claiming that a flat tax will benefit everyone).

The Cat is not envious of the Tories (or the right) for two reasons: 1. I do not envy stupidity or a lack of critical thinking and 2. I have never wanted to be rich nor do I have any desire to have more than I need. The Tories who trot out the “Politics of Envy” as a rebuttal, unwittingly reveal their lack of ideas and their mendacity but they also betray their rapacious impulses.

“The politics of envy” is a phrase that exists to make Tories feel better about themselves; it provides a form of comfort. By using it, they feel that they don’t have to respond to questions about their greed or their blatant class disgust. In this respect they have appropriated the sentiment behind the royal motto, “Dieu et mon droit”. In other words, they believe that they are born to govern and that they have divine endorsement.

Only morons and the greedy want to be rich or Tory.

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