THE POLITICAL CASTE
“There is more in common between two deputies, one of whom is a Communist, than between two Communists, one of whom is a deputy.” [unsourced, but traditional French quotation]
There is a growing divorce between the views of the elites and the electorate over the most critical political issues of our time.
These can be listed as follows:
First, the ongoing merging of the UK with a distant bureaucratic organisation, the EU. Only a handful of MP’s want Britain to leave this organisation while over 600 hold a variety of views from enthusiastic further subordination to impracticable reform of the existing set-up.
Second, globalisation and the loss of well paid skilled and semi-skilled jobs.
Third, mass immigration, both legal and illegal.
Fourth, the growth of crime and lawlessness. Legislatives continue to pour out laws while existing laws are not enforced and, even after convictions, punishments – such as fines – are not collected and prison sentences are reduced by politicians.
Fifth, the increasing breakdown of national identity not only in the Celtic fringe but, more ominous, the arrival of communities who do not want to integrate and who contain many dangerous people.
Who are the elites? Of course there are several layers of elites, some local, some national and some international. An elite person can be defined as someone who is likely to give their opinion at a public function or in the media and whose opinion will be reported, despite the fact that, quite often, they have no real knowledge of the matter in question, such as the institutions of the EU or the economic effects of immigration or climate change.
Obviously elites include MPs but also civil servants, church leaders, senior executives of the largest companies and trade associations, union leaders, columnists, editors and media figures, as well as academics, leaders of NGO’s and researchers at think tanks.
Parliament and government is mainly influenced by the opinion of elites. So, at present, parliamentary debate is not only not dealing with issues the electorate consider important, it is actively passing measures which are diametrically opposed to those wanted by the electorate.
Of course, in many areas the elite and the mass of public opinion are in agreement, such as putting more funds into the NHS or education, although a minority may argue that these are foolish policies. The point, however, is that in these areas, both elites and the electorate appear to be in agreement. What is interesting is the areas where the elite is plainly pursuing policies which the electorate is consistently adverse to.
At the moment, the British government is:
- Agreeing to more power being handed over from Westminster to Brussels.
- Stepping up public sector purchases of imported goods, including the defence area.
- Discussing amnesties for illegal immigrants.
- Increasing mass immigration.
- Taking steps to reduce prison sentences, not enforcing collection of fines and consistently debating and promoting non-custodial sentences and even no sentences for criminals.
The first is raw economic and selfish interests. Elites are generally not affected by globalization or mass immigration. They have jobs which, for example, is the city benefit from globalisation and they have cheaper services from low-cost immigrant labour. As they are affluent and educated, they face little threat to their jobs and incomes from immigration. The jobs they have, whether as bishops or NGO leaders, place the greatest premium on English language and the mastery of British culture. The electorate is not in the same situation. Generally elites do not live in high crime areas and many do not suffer the effects of ineffectual law and order and, of course, the expansion of the EU increases the number of jobs for legislators and hangers-on.
The second reason is that criticism of the elites from the right is hampered by divisions within its own ranks. Free market economists support the supposed benefits of globalisation or mass immigration without considering the whole effects. Their reasons are often half-digested by journalists and public figures. The history of the pro-EU past of the Conservative Party and the fear of offending Europhiles cripples a realistic view of the EU. The, often bizarre, invocation of ‘One Nation’ is used to stifle criticism. Within the Left there is also a remarkable ability among those who represent low-skilled workers and even ethnic immigrants, to fail to understand that mass immigration depresses wages, degrades the environment, forces up housing costs and ruins schools. The electorate is well aware that health, education and pay rates are buckling under the effect of crime and immigration.
The issues of the modern world are not, politically speaking, either liberal or conservative; they are elite/populist issues. These divergences are undoubtedly creating opportunities for leaders who approach these issues from a populist point of view.
Matters of national identity are not considered by the elite who rarely know anything about or experience the consequences of globalization or mass immigration.
Third, immigration policy, crime and, bizarrely, EU policy has been linked to racism. Racism is certainly an ugly charge and branding critics of certain policies as ‘racist’ is a favourite tactic of those who work to suppress the views of ordinary electors. This is despite the overwhelming evidence that, for example, immigration bears most heavily on the wages and conditions of previous immigrants and that crime probably affects areas where most immigrants live.
Fourth, there is the view by the elites that the masses are just ignorant. If they thought about these issues, they would immediately see the benefits of the EU, mass immigration and a soft and caring policy to criminals. Strangely, it is on the right, which generally represents upper income voters who are not generally so affected by these issues, that there is some sort of debate. Despite their dependence on low income voters the left parties do not debate these matters at all with the result that they are increasingly detached from the interests of their low income supporters.
Fifth, politicians gain power in a diverse society. The multiplication of welfare activities by the government and the increasing layers of government and regulation by the EU places an increased premium on the activities of those who are in the control seat – the politicians – as well as , of course, providing comfortable and well paid jobs. All these issues increase the rate of government on society and the economy and make voters dependent on government programmes and the political class which guarantees these programmes.
Sixth, elites talk to elites. On all serious issues political leaders debate with leaders in their fields who may have no particular knowledge of the issues at stake. For example, the CBI leadership has been strongly in favour of EU membership, membership of the euro as well as mass immigration. So has the TUC.
But there are deeper issues here. There is a fundamental bias among politicians to remain in power, to get away from difficult elections, accountability and political uncertainty. These desires encourage them to remodel their relationships with the electorate on a patron-client relationship. Traces of this can be seen in British politics right back to the time of the Asquith government but the cultivation of “clientilismo”, has reached new heights with the Scottish/Welsh national parties and also a bloc hunting politician like Ken Livingstone.
FUTURUS/31 March 3007