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George Monbiot: Nothing will change until we confront the real sources of power.

The  words of a local councillor recalled an analysis by George Monbiot in Why Politics Fails; she wrote:

“I don’t trust any politician (except myself that is!). They are all in the pockets of developers or global businesses. The people are just there for fodder to fight wars that corporates make money out of and to service the wealthiest” . . . despite the seven parliamentary principles for public life:

7 principles public life

Corporate power: the lefthand parliamentary glove puppet argues with the righthand glove puppet, but neither side will turn around to face the corporate capital that controls almost all our politics.

It’s the reason for the collapse of democratic choice. It’s the source of our growing disillusionment with politics. It’s the great unmentionable. Corporate power. The media will scarcely whisper its name. It is howlingly absent from parliamentary debates. Until we name it and confront it, politics is a waste of time.

trickle downThe political role of corporations is generally interpreted as that of lobbyists, seeking to influence government policy. In reality they belong on the inside. They are part of the nexus of power that creates policy. They face no significant resistance, from either government or opposition, as their interests have now been woven into the fabric of all three main parties.

Most of the scandals that leave people in despair about politics arise from this source . . .

Last week we discovered that G4S’s contract to run immigration removal centres will be expanded, even though all further business with the state was supposed to be frozen while allegations of fraud are investigated.

Every week we learn that systemic failures on the part of government contractors are no barrier to obtaining further work, that the promise of efficiency, improvements and value for money delivered by outsourcing and privatisation have failed to materialise.

snouts troughThe monitoring which was meant to keep these companies honest is haphazard, the penalties almost non-existent, the rewards stupendous, dizzying, corrupting. Yet none of this deters the government. Since 2008, the outsourcing of public services has doubled, to £20bn. It is due to rise to £100bn by 2015.

This policy becomes explicable only when you recognise where power really lies.

The role of the self-hating state is to deliver itself to big business. In doing so it creates a tollbooth economy: a system of corporate turnpikes, operated by companies with effective monopolies.

corporate lobbyistsIt’s hardly surprising that the lobbying bill – now stalled by the Lords – offered almost no checks on the power of corporate lobbyists, while hogtying the charities who criticise them. But it’s not just that ministers are not discouraged from hobnobbing with corporate executives: they are now obliged to do so . . .

That the words corporate power seldom feature in the corporate press is not altogether surprising. It’s more disturbing to see those parts of the media that are not owned by Rupert Murdoch or Lord Rothermere acting as if they are.

For example, for five days every week the BBC’s Today programme starts with a business report in which only insiders are interviewed. They are treated with a deference otherwise reserved for God on Thought for the Day. There’s even a slot called Friday Boss, in which the programme’s usual rules of engagement are set aside and its reporters grovel before the corporate idol. Imagine the outcry if Today had a segment called Friday Trade Unionist or Friday Corporate Critic . . .

Research conducted by the Cardiff school of journalism shows that business representatives now receive 11% of airtime on the BBC’s 6 o’clock news (this has risen from 7% in 2007), while trade unionists receive 0.6% (which has fallen from 1.4%). Balance? Impartiality? The BBC puts a match to its principles every day.

And where, beyond the Green Party, Plaid Cymru and a few ageing Labour backbenchers, is the political resistance? After the article I wrote last week, about the grave threat the transatlantic trade and investment partnership presents to parliamentary sovereignty and democratic choice, several correspondents asked me what response there has been from the Labour party. It’s easy to answer: nothing.

Cameron's real changeBlair and Brown purged the party of any residue of opposition to corporations and the people who run them . . . Since Blair’s pogroms, parliament operates much as Congress in the United States does: the lefthand glove puppet argues with the righthand glove puppet, but neither side will turn around to face the corporate capital that controls almost all our politics . . .

So I don’t blame people for giving up on politics. I haven’t given up yet, but I find it ever harder to explain why. When a state-corporate nexus of power has bypassed democracy and made a mockery of the voting process, when an unreformed political funding system ensures that parties can be bought and sold, when politicians of the three main parties stand and watch as public services are divvied up by a grubby cabal of privateers, what is left of this system that inspires us to participate?

Read the full text & references here: http://www.monbiot.com/2013/11/11/why-politics-fails/

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