Thursday, 3 November 2011

Occupy Movement and a mention!

I feel the urge to post because I’ve just been mentioned on a proper blog and everything!

The lovely Kate Feld – mentioned this blog on her blog, Manchizzle.
I'd like any readers generated from that link to see a new post, so I thought I’d share the benefit of some of my thoughts on the Occupy movement, as I’ve been thinking a lot about it the last few days.

I’m not sure, as some people have said to me, that globalisation is at the root of the problem. To my mind, the way the establishment acts in defence of the status quo and against the democratic will of the people, without even bothering to explain itself (knowledge being power), is the main issue. Added to that, is the lack of trust in the financial sector, which to a great extent, they have brought upon themselves. This isn’t just the banking crisis, it’s a systematic abuse of people’s trust or taking advantage of their ignorance time and time again (PPI mis-selling, insurance mis-selling, Credit Card charges, “cheap” debt, overdraft charges) and moreover, an arrogance which is coming over loud and clear.

You can almost hear “Let them eat cake”.

Martin Lewis really hit home to me a few years ago with his consumer rights crusades – he both taught people the value of their rights and that it was up to them to exercise them, but also gave them the tools to do it (A Lib Dem ideal as it goes - community politics, surely?) and also pushes for legislation that both improves the spread of information (APRs to be published on statements, or compulsory financial education in the curriculum) and tries to forces companies to behave better.

There seems to be a prevailing sense that the financial sector can do what they want, privatise the profits and socialise the losses, and that, even to me, doesn’t make much sense. Perhaps it’s simplistic, perhaps it’s populist, but they do well to ask us to consider if there might be another way.

What I’d like to know is what threatens the establishment so much about the protestors that they spend time, effort, money and apparently in the end will use force to get rid of them. And also why some on the right are resorting to talking about where the protestors choose to get their coffee (Louise Mensch), mocking them for wearing masks (?) and other ad hominem attacks…. The most coherent objection against the protestors was more on the basis of if we reduce the banker's pay, they will pay less tax into the system - and that belongs in proper debate, but it’s about the only objection I would characterise like that.

I’m making rhetorical points, obviously, but to sum up there is the leftist position, clearly, but I see it as us as Liberals should be against concentration of power in a particular area, and pro improvements in equality of opportunity (with long-argued disagreements within the party about equality of outcome).

We should certainly be pro freedom of speech, and the campaigner in us should admire their ability to frame the debate and grab attention – tho as expressed disagree with some of their methods or the incoherence of their aims. I think we should still be proud of them for doing it, and besides, some enterprising Lib Dems might find a candidate, campaigner, deliverer amongst their ranks… maybe unlikely but won’t know till we try.


  1. The lack of democratic accountability that you describe is partly due to globalization. Modern governments are heavily tied up in international agreements, for instance it is almost impossible to protect local eco-businesses against multinationals or to oppose EU regulations. Even when it comes to wars the implied threats that might be made by large and powerful economic partners can be very persuasive in making us a military partner.

    Apart from globalisation there is the reluctance of voters to actually use democracy. Whether or not you support UKIP you can see that it has shifted the tories towards an anti position on Europe because they were haemorrhaging support. Voting according to your beliefs is a good idea and not a "wasted vote". See The occupy London movement for more analysis.

  2. Thanks John. I think, tho I take your point about globalization, is that once in power, a lot of the establishment act only for the vested interests. This may a case of access, people like me are too busy working to spend time lobbying (like the rich or charities or those who are paid to do it do) or protesting (like the time rich do), it's expensive and time consuming. Note, that doesn't mean I think either shouldn't happen, I'm just advising why I don't think the little guy gets much of a hearing.

    Tho you are right that UKIP have changed the Tories' positionm, they are still primarily a single issue party, the First Past the Post system will not react well to a lot of single issue parties…. I totally vote according to my beliefs (Liberal, and Democratic since you ask), but I think there is huge issues in asymmetry of information, engagement from the establishment with the people, explaining issues and some of the situations you describe. I think, in the UK, the people are infantilised, through education, the media and eventually their own apathy.

    So, I still maintain it’s not primarily about globalization, tho I accept it may have influence. I find that those in power make decisions, or indeed are impotent because the financial system is far beyond regulation. This is a big problem, and #Occupy do well to shine a light on it. The longer they are there the better.

  3. "This may a case of access, people like me are too busy working to spend time lobbying (like the rich or charities or those who are paid to do it do) or protesting (like the time rich do), it's expensive and time consuming. "

    I could not agree more. If you go to the online government "consultation pages" the chatter is largely from unions and law companies. Ordinary people do not have the time.See Government consultations