Saturday, 20 April 2013

We Control The Politics Of The Future

Imagine that you attend a rock concert in a football stadium. You wheel in by the thousand, brandishing your coveted tickets and take your seats, waiting for the moment that the concert is due to start. Whether you are satisfied or disappointed by the outcome is a subjective matter. You did nothing personally to prepare for the concert other than buy a ticket, so you may get what you expected as a passive spectator. You did not first have to organise the venue, the dates, hire the stage equipment, employ the constructors, the electricians, the sound engineers, the lighting, the security the promotion etc. You only had to buy a ticket because the organisers did the work before you sat down at your concert seat. The point is that lots had to happen before the event. Your ticket (vote) endorsed the end product.

So now consider an article telling Labour leader Ed Miliband to start to build support for the 2015 election . In many ways it seems that certain groups and political activists are just starting to wake up to the Saturn / Pluto cycle that I have been talking about for years. In a nutshell, the Saturn (structure of society) / Pluto (evolution of society) renews itself around every 33 years. The last time it happened it was Margaret Thatcher who read the zeitgeist and knew that outmoded practices and failing policies in the UK had to be destroyed in order to build for better societal structure that prospered.

Just like our imaginary concert, Margaret Thatcher was working tirelessly many years before the Saturn / Pluto cycle began, but crucially she was utilising the cycle at its most potent and malleable time, which is from the point of the previous conjunction. In the run up to Mrs Thatcher’s time, the Saturn / Pluto conjunction began on 11 August 1947 at 13 degrees of Leo. This was a post-war conjunction that had to deal with a great many restructuring projects including the NHS and the Welfare State. When Saturn returned to 13 degrees of Leo it was September 1976. The United Kingdom was known as the sick man of Europe because it’s economic structure was burdened by Nationalisation, unions capable of bringing down governments, an unfair tax system and failing industry. Within a few years, the Conservative party swept to power in 1979 and began to implement the policies they had said they would implement. By the start of the conjunction in 1982, the structures were fairly well known, even if we had no idea at the time where they would actually lead.

For a while the new policies appeared to work (They were certainly a better alternative than doing nothing or letting the old system fester and poison us all) and the difference to the majority of the British people (in tandem with no credible alternative) were reflected in the three general elections that Margaret Thatcher headed. The Labour party, who naturally shared an affinity with the unions, who were being clobbered under this new regime, had no credible alternative to run the country and languished as an ineffective opposition for many years.

But political ideology started to get in the way of common sense that began to affect the people in the wrong way and the opposition Labour party suddenly woke up to the notion that they could no longer cling to the outmoded far left wing views of days gone by. The Saturn / Pluto cycle is, of course, a global cycle. By the first Saturn / Pluto square in 1993 there was the first attempt at blowing up the World Trade Centre. Back home, the European Economic Community opened its borders to allow free trade. The world was changing significantly, according to the policies developed at the Saturn / Pluto conjunction  and Conservative ideology favoured deregulation, free markets and hands off government. The conservative policies suited many people but not the three million who became unemployed as a result and the many who began to feel insecure about their personal status. What Margaret Thatcher had achieved in the beginning was necessary (not popular) to bring stability and prosperity to the UK shores. But what she did later was pure ideology. Now there were only the more affluent that felt better off. In short, the balance of power shifted because of self serving ideological myopia.

However, when Tony Blair took over the reigns in 1997, he did not seek to reverse Margaret Thatcher’s achievements; indeed it would have been backward and very expensive to attempt it. The world had moved on since the days of miners strikes, three-day weeks and the infamous ‘winter of discontent’

Mr Blair started to redress the balance of power in favour of the ordinary average wage earner. Creating jobs was a top priority. What he had tapped into was the same zeitgeist that Margaret Thatcher had tapped into but the Conservative government had lost along the way (along with Margaret Thatcher herself). He read correctly the mood of the people, possibly unaware that the financial garden was becoming overgrown with unwelcome weeds.

It was after Tony Blair’s departure that the credit crunch hit. But this was within the flowering part of the Saturn / Pluto cycle where we could now see the potential that had been created way back in 1982. Gordon Brown (Prime Minister after Tony Blair) was not the visionary needed to find a way through this most troubling of times. He could not see the similarities that began to emanate from what will be seen historically as an economic crisis of global proportions, far worse than the Wall Street Crash of 1929. Where the UK was regarded as the sick man of Europe, the infection of financial globalisation had spread a rush of greed right across the world and Europe as a whole became sick. History has yet to decide if the whole of the Eurozone experiment is terminal.

So from the UK perspective, we are now (2013 at the time of writing) back at the same point in the evolutionary cycle of Saturn / Pluto as Margaret Thatcher was in 1976. The 1982 conjunction occurred on 8 November 1982 at 27 degrees of Libra. Saturn hit the same degree area in December 2011, which triggered the critical phase of the time span we have to do something about that which does not work, is outmoded and dying and what needs to be destroyed to build anew. This means that whoever wins the general election in 2015, will be the person to set the UKs structural agenda for the 33 years starting at the new Saturn / Pluto conjunction in January 2020. But if the understanding of the zeitgeist is poor, the 2015 government will be either short lived or will be ineffective. Someone has to come forward with the right policies before the next conjunction and there is no sign of it at this time.

And this is the warning that Tony Blair has given to Ed Miliband, along with other politically interested groups. Be in no doubt that another government under David Cameron would be a disaster. He has given the UK some terrible medicine but, keeping with the metaphor of the medical profession, has demonstrated a callous bedside manner along with it. The people did not cause the debt crisis, so there is plenty of room for argument to insist that the people who caused the crisis should be the ones paying for it. The Liberal Democrats (the minor part of the coalition government) may yet hold the key to a new coalition.

In the meantime, we have to look beyond the debt crisis and to put in place policies that will return the world to a more sustainable structure. The Internet movements like the “99 percent” and “Occupy” are clear signposts as to where the hole in the system needs fixing. But it has to be done outside of political dogma and ideology - and Ed Miliband has to start listening to the zeitgeist instead of those with purely left-wing interests.

Ed Miliband himself has mentioned the need to curb short term politics, which is a great start in terms of thinking and the Saturn / Pluto cycle calls for bold and sustainable policies designed to evolve over a generation. And one of the biggest challenges to whoever becomes the next UK Prime Minister involves developing a new kind of political thinking that will impact way beyond the lifetime of that government.

So here are a few pointers to Ed, or whoever wants to be Prime Minister in 2015

First - simplify. The economic dance around tax and corporate responsibility has opened the gates for a plethora of abuse and ways to get around badly written tax laws. Successive governments have pandered to wealthy benefactors and business in order to promote growth and prosperity. But after 33 years it is only the corporations, the banks and the rich who enjoy growth and prosperity. Simplify the tax system. Simplify the welfare system. Make life easier for everyone.

Second - stop tinkering. Any number of Chancellor’s of the Exchequer have added on a penny here and a penny there so that, if the average wage person is any better off at all, it might buy a pint of beer in order to celebrate the windfall. This is the very kind of short term politics that must stop. Simplify the income tax, national insurance, VAT, corporation tax, rates, licences and so on. People see money hemorrhage from their income at every turn. The first chancellor to stop playing pointless financial lego with our personal money will probably go down in history as a great man.

Third - Make essential services not-for-profit companies. Nationalisation did not work. Privatisation is proving to be increasingly more expensive and unaffordable and open to so much abuse. The ordinary average wage person should not be squeezed between the choice of heating and eating. There are thousands of people in fuel poverty. Gas, electricity and water should be without any profit element. This current Saturn / Pluto cycle has demonstrated clearly the greed and the abuse that comes with the ever growing demand for profit. And while we are at the notion of not-for-profit companies (who will still have to pay some taxes) the same should be applied to railway track safety and maintenance and the maintenance of public buildings. If there were ever a need to put money into infrastructure, it would be spending money to set up not-for-profit companies who are not hell bent on legally ripping off the tax payer with extortionate maintenance rates (See PFI for hospitals as a great example). Share holders just make anything attached to it more expensive. The same goes for our National Health Service; some things should never be privatised.

Fourth - The zeitgeist already speaks of a ‘living wage’. I heard Michael Howard (former conservative leader) argue on ‘Question Time’ BBC1 (18 April 2013) that if the UK was to raise the minimum wage it would stop businesses from employing people. Apparently he also argued the same point about the introduction of the minimum wage before it was first introduced. This is the attitude of many business employers who put profit before people. It is the wrong perspective, which clearly should be not of the prospective employer but the employee who will receive this wage. If the wage is not a living wage it can only be viewed as poverty employment. In my opinion, if an employer cannot afford to pay a living wage, then the employer is not in a position to employ. It is crazy in the 21st century to argue for slave wages, which anything below the living wage must be considered as such, irrespective of much lower wages in developing countries. Employers would have wages subjected to a ‘race to the bottom’ mentality. There is one thing to be competitive but quite another to promote oppression on the back of profit. Therefore the way to profitability should be discovered through a route other than continued poverty and the minimum wage should be at the level of the living wage as soon as possible.

Fifth - if there is a minimum wage perhaps there ought to be a maximum wage. Anyone who can afford to buy a family house with one year’s salary can achieve what the average person would spend 30 years on a mortgage to achieve. Is it right for some people to get million pound bonuses, share deals and extraordinary pensions for the single reason of taking more money out of circulation and into the hands of a tiny, and very rich, minority? It has been this sort of practice that generated the angina effect on the circulation of the world’s capitalist system and created the 99 percent who rummage around with just 1 percent of the world’s money. If we do not learn this lesson I am positive that we will be back in 33 years time, talking about the same problem.

So there is a simple template for the new Saturn / Pluto cycle that, if not Ed Miliband then someone else to tap into, must be addressed. Simplify. Stop silly tinkering that makes no difference. Look after the essentials. Give people a proper liveable wage and stop the very rich and powerful from keeping the rest of us in poverty. In many ways it is a shopping list right up the street of any left wing politician but be under no illusions that going too far left is just as bad as the present government going too far to the right. We need someone who will put people above political point scoring.

And finally there is one more crucial ingredient to all of this, and that is you and me. We are the electorate who can either buy a ticket and watch the show unfold, or get involved in the organisation of our world and be the change we want to see. Through the Internet at the very least, we have the ability to become better informed, to become more active, to join appropriate pressure groups like Avaaz or 38 degrees. The mass populations of the world are the people who generate the zeitgeist that politicians tap into. The clearer our message means the more likely that politicians will fight to achieve what we want to achieve. This is what corporate lobby groups do - like the gun lobby this year that effectively squashed a really good gun control law because it might hurt the profitability of their business; Senators were effectively bribed to put guns before children. So the question is whether you want people like them to run your country (to suit them) or if you want to take some responsibility and ensure that governments are controlled by the electorate (that’s us). We have to lose the apathy that we don’t make a difference; In the words of Barack Obama, yes we can.

Ultimately we control the politics of our future. This is not post war 1947 anymore. The world has changed amazingly fast and that means that the electorate has the tools that they did not have before to become more switched on and clued up.

By around 2018 we will be able to see how a generation is going to unfold, and by February 2049 we will know how well we did it. So, do you want to sit back and buy a ticket or would you want to be part of making the concert?

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