Last week a parliamentary candidate was censored and silenced at a hustings by Amber Rudd. Following the attack in London Theresa May once again blamed cyberspace as a safe space for terrorists to breed and a former Metropolitan Police Senior Investigating Officer, Peter Kirkham, stated on Sky News that Theresa May was lying about Police numbers.
There are plenty of other examples I could have used, like the dementia tax, the right wing media attacks on Jeremy Corbyn, but what all these highlight about the Conservatives and the establishment ruling elites is, just who do they think they are?
At the hustings, Amber Rudd was not the first among equals, nor even someone in an especial position of power which gave her any authority to silence fellow candidate Nicholas Wilson, she relied on an assumed and presumptuous position of privilege which was only carried out by the chairman because he deferred his democratic authority to her. This highlights the enormous problem of inequality we have in Britain. It is so normalised that many ordinary people (probably the majority) cannot even see it and still others become incensed by the ‘presumption’ of those who dare raise any challenge to their ‘betters’.
Just as the poor are blamed for poverty, so the democratic space for ordinary people, the Internet, is blamed as a breeding ground for terrorism. Anyone who suggests, as Jeremy Corbyn has, that western wars in the Middle East create a breeding ground for extremists which in no way condones the actions of those extremists, is vilified as a terrorist sympathiser. We might just as well rewrite history and call the French Resistance in WWII terrorists, indeed, they were doubtless regarded as such by Hitler, regardless of whether they struck out against Germany or the German occupation forces in France.
Were the boot on the other foot, and Iraq, Afghanistan or Syria were striking against Britain and sending in occupying forces I would expect to be a part of the resistance and would also expect them to consider me a terrorist. I would consider it my moral duty to resist, but, and here’s the question, would it be morally right to strike like for like in revenge attacks against civilians? I would hope not, but then I am not in a war zone and have no concept of what effect the widespread devastation of my country would have on me. Without living it I cannot know how radicalised I might become.
Cyberspace is neutral, just as phones are neutral, as is writing paper, as is language itself. The vast majority of people are not using methods of communication for radical or extreme purposes, although clearly the media and government do just that, as is all too clear in the current election campaign. Theresa May is pointing the finger and calling for allied governments to “regulate cyberspace”, whilst avoiding any hint of responsibility for her and her governments role in domestic and world events herself.
What was shocking about Peter Kirkham speaking out and doing it on the mainstream media is that he was speaking to power and highly critical of it, calling Theresa May a liar, and Sky News actually had the courage to broadcast it. To put it simply and perhaps tritely, that’s just not the done thing. It bloody well ought to be, but Britain is so riddled with deference and cap doffing, such a thing, whilst refreshing, is rare.
The Amber Rudd incident sums it up. She was effectively saying to Nicholas Wilson, ‘Who do you think you are?’ What the chairman failed to do when Rudd passed a note to him to silence Wilson was demand of Rudd, ‘Who do you think YOU are?’
This normative state of deference is exactly what the Conservatives rely on to hold power. It is not the rich and powerful who keep the Conservatives as a credible main party, but the deference of those they seek to dominate and rule. This hide bound, deeply entrenched, historic deference will, I would argue, be the single most decisive factor in this election.
Interestingly, The Dorset Eye, to which I am a contributor, received a Tweet today which said, “I’ve unfollowed you I am only interested in promoting Dorset & hardworking people & businesses not lending my support to plebs”.
Well, quite. We can’t have people getting above themselves, now can we? Just who do we think we are?
‘We’, ‘they’, ‘people’, ‘some’, talk about equality… but as Mohandas Gandhi is reputed to have said when asked, “What do you think of western civilization?”, I can only say, “I think it would be a good idea.”
I doff my cap to you, dear reader, and thank you for your time, and lovingly ask only this, who do YOU think you are?
KOG. 06 June 2017