4 April 2012     

Volcanic “blips”

By John Malloy

Nick Robinson, the senior political correspondent at the BBC has all the neutrality you would expect of such a worthy figure in that as a student he was President of the Oxford University Conservative Association. He exemplifies the “insider” approach to political coverage spreading the myth that the leaders—and it always is leaders—are what matters—not broad movements. Furthermore, such leaders are basically decent individuals who face daunting hurdles in their efforts to do the right thing for the common good.
     He and other embedded correspondents are from the same social class as these leaders, with careers that feed off their scraps to provide gossip dressed up as analysis. Little wonder that the world they inhabit is sometimes described as the media “bubble” around Westminster.
     There are times when this world is rocked by events that leave it struggling to explain what is happening. The whole issue that is described as an “MPs’ expenses scandal,” for example, had to be written off as a few bad apples distorting what the decent political representative is really like, rather than systemic corruption. The general public, however, saw through this, and the well of political disgust that reacted against it, even if it rarely finds expression still exists. This rejects the Tweedledee/Tweedledum charade that saw Blairism morph into a “national” government of Tory extremists shored up by neo-con Lib Dems and objectively supported by its formal opposition, who refuse to oppose the cuts rationale.
     The Bradford West by-election result illuminates this potential well of opposition. In reaction to this result—the first time a candidate who was not a member of one of the major parties has won a by-election since 1973—Robinson felt compelled to treat this as a blip—“an extraordinary result, but surely a one-off political coup by a political one-off.” He also commented that such a result was a “huge disappointment for the Opposition”—because in his eyes the only “opposition” that could matter is “Her Majesty’s loyal Opposition.”
      He’s right that it was an extraordinary result, for many reasons, not least of which was to shatter the nostrums of the professional liars like Robinson: that the young don’t care about voting, that young Muslims have no interest in “British” democratic institutions, that anti-imperialism and anti-capitalism are political suicide on any political campaign etc.
     Among the lessons for all those who are working to outline and fight for an alternative social and economic strategy, the events in Bradford hint at factors beyond the undoubtedly exceptional talents of George Galloway. These are that despite the ruling class owning the mainstream media and talking about “drawing the line” under previous scandals and the never-ending wars based on bogus “intelligence,” there is still an untapped well of disgust about the unrepresentative democracy by which people are being attacked at home and slaughtered abroad. The potential this hints at is for a political volcano, not an isolated blip.

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