Jump to content
House Price Crash Forum
cashinmattress

Corrupt, Amoral Politicians. An Economy Sinking In Terrifying Debt. And A People Enraged. Britain Has Been Here Before...

Recommended Posts

Corrupt, Amoral Politicians. An Economy Sinking in Terrifying Debt. And a People Enraged. Britain Has Been Here Before... and the Lesson Should Chill Us All

A corrupt parliament; an unprincipled government; an economy sinking under a mountain of debt - and a people enraged. Not a bad description of Britain in 2009.

Also not a bad description of Britain nearly two centuries ago, in the dismal decade of distress and discontent that followed the Napoleonic Wars. Yes, we've been in this mess before. The question is: How did we get out of it? And can we do it again?

In his Rural Rides, which he began writing in 1822 and published in 1830, the radical journalist William Cobbett portrayed a country groaning under the twin burdens of debt and sleaze.

The 1820s were a time of acute financial crisis - of deflation, a crashing stock market and soaring unemployment - and Cobbett expressed better than anyone the bitter national mood.

Unlike the economists of his time, he dismissed the idea that the crisis was the result of a natural business cycle. For Cobbett, it was clearly a consequence of political corruption.

'A national debt,' he wrote, 'and all the taxation and gambling belonging to it, have a natural tendency to draw wealth into great masses - for the gain of a few.' Now, Cobbett lamented, 'the Debt, the blessed Debt' was 'hanging round the neck of this nation like a millstone'.

Ring a bell? It should. Under Gordon Brown's stewardship of the nation's finances, we have witnessed both an explosion of public debt and a marked increase in inequality.

We can already feel the millstone growing as taxes rise to pay the interest on the money borrowed to bail out the greedy incompetents who blew up the big banks.

The UK Debt Management Office estimates that the Government will have to sell a record £147.9 billion of new bonds in the 2009-10 financial year. But that understates the magnitude of the debt mountain.

According to one estimate, the various guarantees, asset purchases, capital injections and stimulus measures introduced by the Government since this crisis began amount to 59 per cent of gross domestic product.

Plutocracy

A doubling of the national debt might end up being the ironic legacy of Gordon 'Prudence' Brown's premiership. Nor is the debt explosion the only thing we have in common with Cobbett's time. The entire political system, he argued, had become a kind of 'vortex', sucking money from the poor to a new plutocracy - and to an ever-growing bureaucracy.

The country was in the hands of a 'monster of a system', declared Cobbett, that was run for the benefit of a 'tribe of tax-eaters'.

That, too, has a familiar ring. Under Gordon Brown and his more charismatic predecessor there has been a steady expansion of public sector employment.

From 1998, the public payroll grew with every passing year to reach a total of 5,846,000 in June 2005. That was 680,000 higher than in June 1998. Private sector employment rose by 1,241,000 in the same period.

In other words, more than a third of new jobs created under New Labour in those seven years were in the public sector. And we can expect a further expansion of government employment relative to private sector employment as a consequence of this crisis.

Like other Radicals of the period, Cobbett saw electoral reform rather than revolution as the necessary remedy. After all, he argued, 'the House [of Commons] made all the loans which constitute the debt'.

It was Parliament that was the heart of the system of 'Old Corruption', whereby the government doled out wellpaid sinecures and handouts to 'placemen' who could be relied on to vote the right way as and when required. Now, that really does sound familiar, doesn't it?

Who - apart from our shameless MPs themselves - has not felt a surge of indignation at reading each day of the antics of our elected representatives, merrily fiddling their expenses while the City of London burned?

Even on the other side of the Atlantic, where political corruption is hardly unknown, there has been amazement at the bare-faced nature of the frauds perpetrated by some of those we elected to make, rather than break, our laws.

Only in dear old England, the Washingtonians joke, could you put a moat on expenses. To be a Brit abroad these days, dear reader, is to be a laughing stock. It would take a Cobbett to do full justice to my sense of indignation.

So what can we learn from Cobbett's time? The answer is that there can be redemption through reform - and indeed, without reform we risk revolution: the popular repudiation of the parliamentary system itself.

That was certainly the risk Britain was running by 1830. When revolutions broke out in Paris and elsewhere on the European continent, there were many who feared barricades and bloodshed in the streets of London. Yet it didn't happen. Why not?

First, because a change of government paved the way for electoral reform, culminating in the passage of the 1832 Reform Act.

It was, of course, very far from a complete overhaul of the old, corrupt system, since many of the abuses of aristocratic patronage persisted into the 1860s and beyond (as any reader of Trollope can confirm). But it was a start - and a signal that the political class was in earnest about mending its ways.

Under Gordon Brown's, we have witnessed both an explosion of public debt and an increase in inequality

Sympathetic

Second, and more important, both the major political parties underwent a transformation both in leadership and in ideology.

'Old Corruption' had been an 18th-century system in which Tories and Whigs took it in turns to harvest the fruits of office. (Whigs were more sympathetic to the American and French Revolutions. Tories put King and Country first.)

The political crisis of 1829-1832 - which began with the decision to give Roman Catholics the vote and culminated in the passage of the Reform Act - dealt a deathblow to the old Toryism personified by Lord Liverpool, who had clamped down vigorously on all forms of popular protest.

In its place there gradually emerged a new Liberal Toryism, under the leadership of Sir Robert Peel, which identified itself with free trade, balanced budgets and sound money.

Peel ended up splitting his party over free trade (removing tariffs on imported grain that hurt Tory landowners, but benefited urban consumers). But his legacy lived on in the person of William Ewart Gladstone, who emerged as the dominant figure of a new Liberal Party - essentially Whigs plus Radicals - in the second half of the century.

The rump Tories also received a makeover under the very unlikely leadership of Benjamin Disraeli who, despite his Jewish origins, colourful literary career and chronic money problems, somehow succeeded in casting himself as the spokesman for a new kind of compassionate Conservatism.

Disraeli insisted that the pillars of the English constitution - monarchy, Church and aristocracy - were sacrosanct. Yet he also spoke out against the social division of the country into 'two nations' as a consequence of the unfettered free market.

And it was Disraeli who grasped that 'jingoism' - a potent cocktail of popular patriotism and imperial expansionism - could win new voters among newly enfranchised groups such as artisans, skilled workers and shopkeepers: the Essex Men of the Victorian era.

The big question for our time is whether the two major parties are capable of similar regeneration. The good news is that I think the Conservatives are already there. Under David Cameron's leadership, great strides forward have been taken to reconcile the principles of the Thatcherite Right - Euroscepticism, in particular - with the need to attract new supporters from the political centre.

Cameron may be a committed opponent of European federalism, but he is also - like many younger voters - distinctly green on the issue of climate change.

I am a convinced Cameroon, not least because I see him as a conservative mailed fist in a velvet glove.

In their recent speeches, he and Shadow Chancellor George Osborne have made it clear they will not shirk the tough choices that will have to be made in the new era of austerity we are entering. The days of 'jobs for the boys' are coming to an end in British politics, as are the days of 'get rich quick' by borrowing to the hilt and speculating in property.

Yet the Tories under Cameron and Osborne understand that 'progressive Conservatism' cannot merely attempt to rerun the 1980s. That's why they are laying so much emphasis on the need for greater accountability and decentralisation throughout the public sector.

Responsive

'Active citizenship' was never much more than a slogan in the Thatcher years. Under Cameron I hope it will become a reality as state schools, in particular, become more responsive to local needs, and our health service breaks decisively with half-a-century of Soviet-style central planning.

But what of Labour? Here the picture is altogether more bleak. After a dozen years in power, the members of the parliamentary party resemble nothing more closely than the nomenklatura of the old Eastern Bloc - the communist party cronies who were handed all the plum administrative jobs.

Most are party hacks whose sole qualification for a seat in our national legislature was a tour of duty in local government. Bullied mercilessly by hard-boiled Scotsmen who learned their politics in the student unions and regional authorities of the drizzly North, these greyapparatchiks must make Lord Mandelson wince on the (mercifully few) occasions when he has to socialise with them.

In the U.S. a charismatic new President, Barack Obama was elected just as the financial crisis reached a crescendo

My worry about the next General Election is not that Labour could somehow win. The probability of such an outcome must be close to zero.

My worry is that Labour will perform so badly that it will be unable to constitute an effective Opposition in future - and that a substantial proportion of traditional Labour voters in the English working class will turn elsewhere for political representation.

The big political challenge we face is one that the Victorians did not have to reckon with: Populism. This was the inchoate political movement that arose on both sides of the Atlantic in the wake of the depression that followed the 1873 financial crisis - another fine mess caused by real estate speculation and badly managed banks.

In the U.S., the populists were predominantly disgruntled farmers who blamed crooked politicians and cosmopolitan bankers for the falling prices of the 1870s and 1880s. In Germany and Austria they were peasants, craftsmen and small businessmen, who more often pinned the blame for their economic troubles on Jews.

To be sure, populism was neither so vicious nor so successful as fascism in the 1930s. But since the economic crisis we are living through is much more like a 19th-century crisis than the Great Depression of the Thirties, it is populism rather than fascism we should look out for.

Populists reject all established political parties. They heap scorn on high finance. They are hostile to immigration and to globalisation generally. It would be hard to think of a more classically populist slogan than 'British jobs for British workers'.

When he used this phrase last year, the Prime Minister inadvertently lit the populist touchpaper. If xenophobic fringe parties such as the British National Party are going to make major gains anywhere at the next election, I suspect it will be from disillusioned Labour voters in places like Dagenham.

Crescendo

If that happens, it will not be unique to Britain. In America, by sheer good luck, a charismatic new President was elected just as the financial crisis reached a crescendo, allowing all the blame to be heaped on George W. Bush - though in reality much more responsibility lies with Congress, Democrats as much as Republicans.

Elsewhere, as in Britain, the financial crisis is destroying the credibility not just of incumbent governments, but entire political establishments. Four governments have fallen in Eastern Europe so far (in Latvia, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Estonia). More will surely follow.

It is too early to say for sure if this current crisis will lead to a backlash against parliamentary democracy itself. That seems unlikely, considering it was only 20 years ago that these countries escaped from communist tyranny.

But it would be very surprising if we did not see a backlash of some kind against the politicians who have led Eastern Europe since the fall of the Berlin Wall. The BNP has its counterparts all over central and Eastern Europe. This is their moment.

William Cobbett, after all, was not above anti-Semitism in his broadsides against the financiers of his day. We should not be surprised to hear echoes of that kind of populism in our day, too.

The challenge for today's mainstream politicians is to convince an angry public that our parliamentary system is capable of reforming itself, as it was in the 19th century.

The alternative, should they fail to do so, is a populist backlash that will not be pretty to behold.

· Niall Ferguson is the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard. He will deliver the Gresham Special Lecture The Ascent Of Money: An Evolutionary Approach To Financial History at the Guildhall, London, tonight at 6pm. His latest book, The Ascent Of Money, has just been published in paperback by Penguin.

Enjoy!

Comments?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Keep telling you guys revolution is the only answer as they control the media, police, press, judges and millions of little parasties working in local goverment across tje land and they won't had power back to the people without a fight.

Less goverment is better goverment and less taxes but that not the route we are going and as things are, playing by the

rules made up by these corrupt leaders mean they will keep on winning.

Most here will be thinking like me in 2 years time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

now on my wish list

Synopsis

It is the duty and ought to be the pleasure of age and experience to warn and instruct youth and to come to the aid of inexperience. When sailors have discovered rocks or breakers and have had the good luck to escape with life from amidst them they unless they be pirates or barbarians as well as sailors point out the spots for the placing of buoys and of lights in order that others may not be exposed to the danger which they have so narrowly escaped.

Edited by p.p.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was agreeing with the article up until it starts praising Cameron to the skies. I seem to remember the same being said about Tony Bliar in 1996. Funny how history repeats itself and nothing ever changes. The other untruth that sticks out like a sore thumb to anybody who can remember the last time the tories in power is their claim to be "eurosceptic" - they are about as eurosceptic as their initial act of treason (Edward Heath, circa 1972) in taking the UK into the EEC.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
now on my wish list

Corrbett would no doubt have advised you to print it out from here rather than buying a reprint from Amazon.

Eg. see paras 21-23... not much has changed in the UK.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Keep telling you guys revolution is the only answer as they control the media, police, press, judges and millions of little parasties working in local goverment across tje land and they won't had power back to the people without a fight.

Less goverment is better goverment and less taxes but that not the route we are going and as things are, playing by the

rules made up by these corrupt leaders mean they will keep on winning.

Most here will be thinking like me in 2 years time.

they control the media, police, press, judges and millions of little parasties

Just wondering if you have read Kevin Cahill's book Who Owns Britain, its about the land ownership in our country. Its a bit dry in places as he tries to get a lot of figures into the opening chapters, but its well worth a look. Even if his figures aren't completely accurate, as it must be hard to get accurate data from the land registry, the findings he documents in the book are really quite mind blowing. If you think the control of the media, police, press and judges etc... are disturbing you should take a look at the book, it shows how land ownership influences all those positions of state power.

Here's a write up, with some figures from Amazon

This is a remarkable and original survey of landownership in Britain and Ireland, detailed county by county.

For Britain, Cahill analyses this landownership, showing how a tiny minority exploits British society. 160,000 families, 0.3% of the population, own 37 million acres, two thirds of Britain, 230 acres each. Just 1,252 of them own 57% of Scotland. They pay no land tax. Instead every government gives them £2.3 billion a year and the EU gives them a further £2 billion. Each family gets £26,875.

By contrast, 57.5 million of us pay £10 billion a year in council tax, a land tax, £550 per household. We live in 24 million homes on about four million acres. 65% of homes are privately owned, so 16 million of us own just 2.8 million acres, an average 0.18 acres each.

The top landowners are the Forestry Commission, 2.6 million acres, the Ministry of Defence 750,000, the royal family 670,000 (including the Crown Estate 400,000 and the Duchy of Cornwall 141,000), the National Trust 550,000, insurance companies 500,000, the utility companies 500,000, the Duke of Buccleuch 270,700, the National Trust for Scotland 176,287, the Dukedom of Atholl 148,000, the Duke of Westminster 140,000 and the Church of England 135,000.

The Forestry Commission, Britain's biggest single landowner, runs its holdings conservatively and secretively. We could expand the forest estate by a million acres a year, producing rural jobs, getting profits from the sale of wood and pulp (cutting our balance of payments deficit) and reducing the output of greenhouse gases. This would cost between £588 million and £750 million.

Through the 18th century enclosures, the landowning class stole eight million acres from the people. They still hide their crimes and their takings. The 1872 Return of Owners of Land was made, but then hidden and never updated. Shares have to be registered; land doesn't. The Land Registry does not know who owns between 30 and 50% of land.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/1...d%3D1090875872/

A bit pricey at £45, I found a copy in the library.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Keep telling you guys revolution is the only answer as they control the media, police, press, judges and millions of little parasties working in local goverment across tje land and they won't had power back to the people without a fight.

Less goverment is better goverment and less taxes but that not the route we are going and as things are, playing by the

rules made up by these corrupt leaders mean they will keep on winning.

Most here will be thinking like me in 2 years time.

Have been thinking much like you for years, Justice; that is why I have devoted much time to getting the message out on this site. Between us all here on HPC, at least we will have informed - and shown the light - to many who visit the site. We have the www to thank for that. Now we have to keep going.

So - all who visit here -- get your friends to visit!! Get them to read and read and read much of the great material of many HPCers post: Get them to read my signature [below] too!! It's a start to learning the TRUTH which you will NOT learn from the VI controlled media - which DAILY peddles the same old lies and PR cr@p.

As time goes on, the information in my signature and posts and from many other posters here on HPC becomes more and more prescient.

Edited by eric pebble

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Synopsis.

The rich oppress the poor.

The poor want to be rich.

There's not enough to go round.

Umm... that's about it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest UK Debt Slave
Keep telling you guys revolution is the only answer as they control the media, police, press, judges and millions of little parasties working in local goverment across tje land and they won't had power back to the people without a fight.

Less goverment is better goverment and less taxes but that not the route we are going and as things are, playing by the

rules made up by these corrupt leaders mean they will keep on winning.

Most here will be thinking like me in 2 years time.

I already do......and have done so for a considerable period of time

Trouble is, it just wont happen in the UK EVER

The UK is the most sophisticated and skillfully managed totalitarian state ever devised. It is exceptional because so many people actually believe they live in a free, open democratic country. It is absolutely nothing of the sort but the level of brainwashing is such that social unrest and disorder is virtually non existent.

You would think that British society would exhibit some indicators of real anger and a reaction to the corruption of the politcial elite, the bankster scum and the corporate power that is sucking us dry but there are none. In the 1960s, there was the peace movement, the whole 60s counterculture. In the 1970s, punk was the means by which a generation of young people voiced their frustrations.

Today???????

NOTHING

NADA

ZERO

ZILCH

200 channels of zhit to watch, computer games, Big Brother...etc etc.

Who will be angry when their brains have been switched off?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I was agreeing with the article up until it starts praising Cameron to the skies. I seem to remember the same being said about Tony Bliar in 1996. Funny how history repeats itself and nothing ever changes. The other untruth that sticks out like a sore thumb to anybody who can remember the last time the tories in power is their claim to be "eurosceptic" - they are about as eurosceptic as their initial act of treason (Edward Heath, circa 1972) in taking the UK into the EEC.

+1

Started well then completely undermined it all by degenerating into a Cameron ar5elick.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Keep telling you guys revolution is the only answer as they control the media, police, press, judges and millions of little parasties working in local goverment across tje land and they won't had power back to the people without a fight.

Less goverment is better goverment and less taxes but that not the route we are going and as things are, playing by the

rules made up by these corrupt leaders mean they will keep on winning.

Most here will be thinking like me in 2 years time.

Eiher it will happen within a couple of years, or large portions of the population will end up in "debt camps" working off their debts. £5 trillion in RPI linked unfunded state/civil service pensions are about to become due and no-one ahs a clue what to do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Who will be angry when their brains have been switched off?

Unfortunately it will be the dumbed down when you ask them to ditch their extensive & highly effective conditioning. *

Through the 18th century enclosures, the landowning class stole eight million acres from the people. They still hide their crimes and their takings.

Mention of which I always wanted to see in a Labour manifesto; & never will this lifetime.

When I first read of this in my early teens I wondered why the masses still climbed out of bed each day & went to work... See *

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Today???????

NOTHING

NADA

ZERO

ZILCH

200 channels of zhit to watch, computer games, Big Brother...etc etc.

Who will be angry when their brains have been switched off?

Yup - it sure is bad out there....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest happy?

That Niall Ferguson was given unrestricted access to Henry Kissinger's personal papers tells anyone all they'd need know about his politics. His personal writing is sloppy: he repeatedly links the growth in public sector jobs to those of the private sector without any attempt to contextualise the two - no self-respecting historian (even of the right) would suffer such obvious and crass manipulation of their readership. Defamation by inference is the preserve of tabloid journalism: Ferguson's trajectory is inexorably lower.

Cobbett (a lifelong radical) would have snorted with derision that someone of Ferguson's establishment background and reactionary politics would claim him as their own.

Edited by happy?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Corrbett would no doubt have advised you to print it out from here rather than buying a reprint from Amazon.

Eg. see paras 21-23... not much has changed in the UK.

ta for that

if anyone can locate an audio copy I will give them 15 virtual internet pounds

there's a biog of Cobbett on archive.org if anyones interested

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • The Prime Minister stated that there were three Brexit options available to the UK:   323 members have voted

    1. 1. Which of the Prime Minister's options would you choose?


      • Leave with the negotiated deal
      • Remain
      • Leave with no deal

    Please sign in or register to vote in this poll. View topic


×

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.