Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Taylor Exposes New Labour Arrogant Mindset

One of Tony Blair's chief advisers and policy wonks has been sounding forth on what he thinks are the challenges and opportunities of "e-democracy". As reported here on the BBC website, Matthew Taylor told a conference on e-democracy that -

"The internet has immense potential but we face a real problem if the main way in which that potential expresses itself is through allowing citizens to participate in a shrill discourse of demands.

"If you look at the way in which citizens are using technology and the way that is growing up, there are worrying signs that that is the case.

"What is the big breakthrough, in terms of politics, on the web in the last few years? It's basically blogs which are, generally speaking, hostile and, generally speaking, basically see their job as every day exposing how venal, stupid, mendacious politicians are.

"The internet is being used as a tool of mobilisation, which is fantastic, but it only adds to the growing, incommensurate nature of the demands being made on government." .

Oh dear, oh terrible that the public should "make demands" of the government. How terrible that they should have the temerity to blog on the wrongdoings of our saintly political class. (That is not to say that I do not agree that some criticism of politicians is not broad brush and unfair.) However, Taylor seems to be objecting to any criticism or even reportage of negatives - he would prefer that "... people who understand technology, ... move from that frame of mind, which is about attacking the establishment into one which is about problem-solving and social enterprise."

So we should really be concerning ourselves with oiling the wheels of New Labour's transmission belt whereby publicly owned and democratically accountable bodies are shifted to arms-length status to be picked off and cherry picked by the corporates, in the guise of "increasing choice" and "social enterprise".

Just in case we were in any doubt about Taylor and New Labour's attitude to the British voter, Taylor gives us this pearl of wisdom -

"We have a citizenry which can be caricatured as being increasingly unwilling to be governed but not yet capable of self-government," Mr Taylor told the audience.

Like "teenagers", people were demanding, but "conflicted" about what they actually wanted, he argued.

The examples he gives to support this are breathtaking in their hypocrisy -

They wanted "sustainability", for example, but not higher fuel prices, affordable homes for their children but not new housing developments in their town or village.

But rather than work out these dilemmas in partnership with their elected leaders, they were encouraged to regard all politicians as corrupt or "mendacious" by the media, which he described as "a conspiracy to maintain the population in a perpetual state of self-righteous rage".

Whether media was left wing or right wing, the message was always that "leaders are out there to shaft you".

Aside from the fact that often the demands and resistance often come from two different sets of people, not the same ones - has it ever crossed his mind that there is no smoke without fire? That New Labour might have just the teensiest bit of responsibility for the real disconnect between the political process and the majority of ordinary people? That rather than explaining things properly or engaing in real discussion with people they pronounce from on high based on the latest plan of some bright young things in Whitehall and rig some pathetic "consultation" to get the answer they want? If you take increasing spheres of life out of democratic control and acountability and hand them over to corporations, is it any wonder if people begin to wonder what the political process is for or if there is "something in it for the politicians" when the goodies end up with their big business friends?

And for a New Labour mouthpiece to attack the media when they are currently playing up to and consolidating every last prejudice of the Daily Mail, Express and Sun! Completely without shame!

Part of the problem, he added, was the "net-head" culture itself, which was rooted in libertarianism and "anti-establishment" attitudes.

Long may these attitudes and values prevail! Clearly Mr Taylor would prefer a tame corporate interest dominated Internet, where people calmly discuss the neo-liberals' latest plans for screwing the national and international working class, and offer their contributions and suggestions for cheap sticking plasters to deal with the effects of letting the free market rip.



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