Monday, May 27, 2013

The woolwich attack, conspiracy theories, and UKIP

The month of May has been terrible for the Conservatives, David Cameron in particular.

It started off with the local elections, which saw UKIP break through into local politics in significant numbers for the first time. Their success was helped by Conservative grandees' contradictory message about how to deal with the UKIP threat; Ken Clarke calling them "clowns", while others gave an unconvincing display of indifference. So UKIP now have a firm grip on local politics in the East and South-east of England.

The result of this was the attempt by Tory rebels to force a vote through parliament criticising the Queen's Speech (i.e. the government) for not including a bill on an EU referendum. This took place while Cameron was in America, and his usual act of being "relaxed" about the outcome simply showed how unfit his personality is for being a Prime Minister. A national leader, let alone a party leader, should never be "relaxed" about matters of national sovereignty.

The split of his party from that vote was then reinforced shortly afterwards by the vote on the gay marriage bill, where he had to ask for Labour's support (rather than abstaining) in order to ensure safe passage through parliament (though the House Of Lords may well kill the bill regardless), as nearly half of his MPs voted against. Cameron's own ministers no longer feel the need to support government votes in parliament anymore; simply voting how they feel on a vote-by-vote basis. That such a situation would've been unthinkable under Blair (or Thatcher) tells you how far Cameron's status has fallen as a "Leader In Name Only".

Then there was the "swivel-eyed loons" comment, which was the biggest helping hand possible that could have been given to UKIP. After this, some Tory councillors quit the party, and some even defected to UKIP altogether. And at least one Labour councillor has also defected to UKIP - an ominous sign for the Labour party.

While this "clusterfuck" in the Tory party was going on, Nigel Farage was taking full advantage of his new status to advance UKIP's cause amongst the working class (by visiting the North of England, where UKIP expects to make inroads in the Labour vote). At the same time Farage was indulging the financial industry, in order to boost UKIP's appeal to The City (and to obtain more wealthy donors and influence). This strategy fits in with what I said in my previous article about how UKIP expects to get support.

Then there was the Woolwich attack, and its aftermath, which deserve careful examination, especially considering the wider context in Britain, and the circumstances of the crime, the perpetrators, the victim himself, and the reaction by those in power. 

There has been a conspiracy theory doing the rounds on the internet that the crime was a hoax; this theory seems just silly, but there is something about the Woolwich attack which makes it feel like life imitating art: like the storyline to the plot of a conspiratorial political thriller made real.

  1. The choice of the victim. Lee Rigby was a working-class guy from a working-class area in the North of England (his family are from Middleton, Manchester). Furthermore, he has been said to have had a "saint-like" personality, who, it is implied, wouldn't hurt a fly. Therefore the choice of victim seems symbolic in more ways than one; especially if someone wanted to, for example, stir up anger in the working class against Muslims.
  2. The unusual behaviour of the attackers. They didn't flee after the attack; one of them hung around the area, and was filmed giving a "speech" of sorts to a passer-by where he talked about revenge against Muslim killings, but equally, talked about how Cameron's government were indirectly responsible for the crime: "your government is doing this to you!". While such words may be ascribed to those of a madman, and it is true that the attacker may have simply wanted to boast and explain his actions unashamedly, were his words also a form of deliberate provocation to British people?
  3. The reaction of David Cameron. He made some typical, well-worn comments designed to not stir up panic and induce solidarity, but then also shortly afterwards went on holiday for a week with his family. Is he really so thoughtless, is he receiving poor advice, or is something else going on?
  4. The attackers had been known to the security services for years, it was revealed soon afterwards - one of them even once considered for recruitment as an "insider".
  5. Shortly afterwards, the Home Secretary Theresa May uses this event to promote the unlimited extension of security surveillance across all forms of communications (which had been previously blocked by the LibDems - a good rod to beat them with!); meanwhile, the former head of the secret service, Stella Rimington, states blandly that people should "spy on their neighbours" if they don't want a Stasi-like police state (though the effect of such practises would be far more poisonous). 
  6. There has been a proliferation of attacks against Muslims, including mosques. This is hardly surprising, given the situation. This did not happen so severely after 7/7; however, economic hardship makes people much less forgiving, the brutality of the attack was shocking, and the symbolism of the target is huge. Not only that, but a war memorial has been vandalised in central London, but in such a way that it could have been carried out by agent provocateurs.  
So after the "clusterfuck" in the Tory party this month, we now have a "terror event" that feels less an act of terror, but more an act of provocation. As we see from the combination of facts laid out above, it reads much like the plot from a conspiracy thriller. Or to be more historically-accurate, it follows a similar pattern of events - a combination of economic hardship and lack of human sympathy, leading to blaming a scapegoat, provocation, and reaction - that led to the Nazis gaining power in Germany, as I explained in my last article.

Who in the UK would politically gain the most from such an event as this one in Woolwich, and others like it in the future?
The EDL are making as much trouble as possible from the event; there was also an attack on a warden by Muslim extremist inmates in a Yorkshire prison. Extremists from both sides are seeking to advance their cause after Woolwich.
This opportunistic chaos is parallel to the chaos in Germany in the early '30s (in particular, 1932), where Nazis and Communists tried to cause as much chaos as possible during its economic crisis. In Germany at the time (and around Europe in general, as well as America), Communism was seen as the main threat, while Fascist authoritarianism was seen in many parts as the antidote. 1932 was an election year in Germany, where the Nazis benefitted from people's fear of Communism; by early 1933, Hitler had been made chancellor.

England in 2013 is two years away from a national election, but May 2013 can already be seen as a tipping-point for politics.
Ukip are already tipped to be the largest party in the European elections next year; this coincides with more local elections, that will further boost their local support base. From that point, David Cameron's days may well be numbered as the Tories try to limit the damage Ukip does to them before the general election in 2015. But by then it may well be far too late. It may already be now; the tipping-point has now passed, and Ukip can expect to only gain more and more momentum.
If the extremist chaos on both sides continues amidst a poisonous and frustrated atmosphere across the country, the only party to benefit from that can be Ukip. As the three main parties all bought into the "social-democratic consensus" that became the norm in Blairite Britain, the only national party apart from that is Ukip. The logic here is that Farage may reasonably (if disingenuously) claim to be leader of the only party that can "tame" the extremism of the EDL (while still holding their indirect political loyalty), while at the same time have a clear-cut (and trustworthy) policy on dealing with Islamic extremism. So if the extremist violence on both sides escalates, Farage and Ukip may be the ones who might be most trusted to "calm things down".

And by that point, British politics will almost certainly be a whole new ball game.

As I wrote last year, the film "V For Vendetta" feels less a fantasy, and more of a prophecy. 

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