27 May 2014

Payback time for the UK and Europe?

So is it payback time, payback for the worst financial crisis in living memory? If so, who was to blame?

Not you, not me, but them. Them bankers, them regulators, them politicians, they all had a hand in it. And now the crisis is said, repeatedly, to be over.

But it is not. The vast majority of incomes have contracted; the vast majority have become more insecure, and they have done so whilst the richer sector has apparently, and factually, got richer.

A protester with a Guy Fawkes mask during a demonstration

(Above: an anti-austerity protest in Rome on 17 May)

For us in Europe, the euro was at the heart of the crisis. It gave Europe (especially to those who never understood a trading community) an even worse name.

For us in Britain, the same men and women who got us into the mess remained unpunished, many of them reverting to the very roles they held before the crisis.

Neither in Europe nor in the UK has there been any particularly radical house cleaning. The ordinary citizen feels estranged from such a situation. Only last week was the man who fiddled the gold rate finally punished, a fine and no sentence, and his bank, Barclays, fined £26m or so.

More analysis: European elections 2014 – everything you need to know

Who would vote for any of them in Europe or in any kind of domestic power, local or otherwise? 66 per cent didn’t vote at all. 27 per cent of those who did staged a full-blown rebellion in the UK by voting Ukip.


(Above: an anti-austerity protest in Marseille on 15 May)

Europe failed, Britain failed and most other European nations for them, and the “recovery” has not assuaged their anger.

It is anger expressed in a yes vote in Scotland and a Ukip vote across the country. Centralised Westminster appears unable to reach the parts of the country bleeding from the misdeeds of those who bankrupted the country.

Continental-wide, Brussels appears to have done no better.

No-one doubts that it can happen all over again. All the pieces are in place to facilitate it. Time is short, solutions long. These are historically dangerous times, mere voting will not stem the dismay.

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17 reader comments

  1. Philip Edwards says:


    This is a very welcome blog.

    However, you missed out one of the main culprits. That is, mainstream media.

    By and large your profession stood by for a generation and allowed this situation to develop, even encouraged it. As you well know, matters have deteriorated since 1979, and it gets worse with each passing day. There may be a slight hiatus but it will resume when the thieves feel able to lift their heads above the parapet again. We do not live in a democracy…..we live in a kleptocracy.

    I said long ago I thought you a good and decent man. I retain that opinion. But how can you expect Joe Citizen to take you seriously when you assure two notorious tories, Michael Heseltine and David Cameron, that you are from – your words – “the same social clarss, and we’re alright”. It was utterly cringeworthy. Heseltine was jointly responsible for socieconomic attacks on the North of England, Wales and Scotland. Cameron leads a government even worse than the tin pot Boadicea Thatcher. It is your “social clarss” that instigated the collapse of decency in public life and even joined in jeering at its victims.

    Now we get mainstream media jeering at “the political class” and “the political elite” while conveniently brushing their own role under the mat. BBC News, for instance, has fallen near vertically from any sense of public duty. Small wonder C4 News international reporting has become little more than a gang of propagandists for NATO and Washington mass murderers, particularly in Ukraine. The fact is disgusting media corruption permeates every level of our culture, near enough to Orwell’s nightmare. Is it really necessary to list the examples?

    You have rightly blamed the bankers, regulators and politicians. It is time you took a good, long hard look at journalists. It is no wonder Russia Today has made inroads into viewing figures – once you discount their propaganda they actually run truthful rings around the likes of Hilsum, Rugman, Miller and Frei, to say nothing of the neoNazis at the Daily Mail (hurrah for the blackshirts version 2.0!), the Sun (gotcha!) and all the other Murdoch liars and fellow travellers (shortly, apparently, to include Faisal Islam).

    It is likely mainstream media will use this phase to attack anybody in politics they want to be rid of. That includes the three current party leaders. Farage will be flavour of the month only so long as he toes the line.

    Even if there was a radical change tomorrow – which there won’t be – it would take decades to reverse the terrible damage inflicted on Western society. That is the kind of horror bequeathed to tomorrow’s children. As Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and now Ukraine has demonstrated there are few lengths your “social clarss” will not go to to maintain its hold. And that is your personal tragedy – you end up as an apologist for system and people you KNOW to be corrupt and who won’t stop even at mass murder.

    So…..well done with the blog. But try not to dodge the truth of your own position.

    1. Hugh Wallace says:

      Very well said Phil Edwards.

    2. rhoda roberts says:

      Thank you for articulating exactly my thoughts. I have been so frustrated watching “journalists” fail to address issues like Ukraine, NHS privatisation and Israel. Wish I could share your comments with everyone.

    3. Bob Hobden says:

      Regarding the media this realistic analysis of the recent elections makes one wonder about our mainstream media…

    4. Old Geezer says:

      Matters have deteriorated since 1979??????. In 1979 we had the IMF running the economy. Remember Calaghan and his “What crisis”. Inflation went up to nearly 30% in the 1970s, and you think it is bad now.

    5. Jason Satt says:

      First I’ll start by saying that the UK is one of the most democratic and free country in the world. A country where freedom of expression and the pursue of kindness is valued by many. However, there are flaws and dangers. Those with a higher level of knowledge, wisdom and kindness must be worried and vigilant. Many people in the UK still have prejudice and discrimination based in social perceptions of biological differences between peoples. Including political systems that consider different races to be ranked as inherently superior or inferior to each other.

      An outbreak of 2 pandemic diseases has been spreading throughout Europe. These outbreaks began when the full consequences of the 2007/2008 Global Financial Crisis started to be felt by ordinary people. How is it called these diseases? Racism and Xenophobia. This is a typical human condition, when jobs and money are scarce the selfishness and evil genes become much more active. Who’s the scapegoats? Who they target? Immigrants, of course. In the UK the raise of the UKIP is easy to explain. In Great Britain people now feel less afraid of showing their real inner beliefs. The Government itself, instead of following reason, they’ve decided to use distasteful tactics like vans with anti-immigrants adverts and ministers are less afraid to use xenophobic language in the media. It was never a reality that the number of racist people in the UK was small. One very British characteristic is to hide from view very intimate feelings. That’s the main reason why is so rare to see a British couple passionately kissing in public, in contrast to (e.g.) Italians. In the UK sometimes there’s even absurd debates about weather a women should breast feed in public. It beggars belief that this happens in one of the most civilised countries in the world! The rise of open xenophobic and racist behaviour in the UK by ordinary people as in part be made possible by politicians themselves openly displaying similar behaviour in the media and in some governmental policies. Our human invention of democracy will never make us evolve to be pragmatic, better, kind, peaceful and united because of our concept of politics. Politics is as filthy, dirty and corrupt as any other business or cartel because whenever there’s money or remuneration involved our selfishness and evil genes kicks in. Racism is best understood as ‘prejudice plus power’ because without the support of political or economic power, prejudice would not be able to manifest as a pervasive cultural, institutional or social phenomenon. The UK fought the Nazis in the last World War to now become a nation of racists and xenophobic.

      Everybody must be aware of how detrimental Xenophobia can be to humankind:

      Xenophobia is the irrational or unreasoned fear of that which is perceived to be foreign or strange.It comes from the Greek words ξένος (xenos), meaning “strange,” “foreigner,” and φόβος (phobos), meaning “fear.” Xenophobia can manifest itself in many ways involving the relations and perceptions of an ingroup towards an outgroup, including a fear of losing identity, suspicion of its activities, aggression, and desire to eliminate its presence to secure a presumed purity. Xenophobia can also be exhibited in the form of an “uncritical exaltation of another culture” in which a culture is ascribed “an unreal, stereotyped and exotic quality”.Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action urges all governments to take immediate measures and to develop strong policies to prevent and combat all forms and manifestations of racism, xenophobia or related intolerance, where necessary by enactment of appropriate legislation including penal measure.

  2. Steven Boxall says:

    A very short piece which just about sums it up.

    “Neither in Europe nor in the UK has there been any particularly radical house cleaning. The ordinary citizen feels estranged from such a situation” – very true.

  3. Christine Howe says:

    “”27 per cent of those who did [vote] staged a full-blown rebellion in the UK by voting Ukip.””

    But NOT in Scotland. UKIP got 10% of the votes cast in Scotland and gained one of the six seats in Scotland.

    The SNP, who topped the poll in Scotland – 28% of votes cast, gained almost the same percentage of the votes cast as they did in 2009 and that after 7 years as the governing party!

    I wonder if anyone watching Channel 4 News last night would know that? Unlikely since it was not mentioned – or if it was it was so fleeting that it was a case of ‘blink and you miss it’.

  4. Alan says:

    Payback who? Faceless financiers, corporate entities that use the masquerade of terms such as UK, EU or bankers remain. All that is clear is those who claim to be our representatives do not represent those who are deceived into voting for them.

  5. Marie Harrison says:

    If it is payback the wrong people are the beneficaries, sadly it should be the financial sector. Extremists are always able to exploit the situation such as recession, one only has to look at the 1930s. We must fight to ensure that people hold such views are returned to their marginalised status.

  6. David Preston says:

    You are so right Jon; so little has been made of the fact that only 40% or so voted this time around, yet %figures are being thrown around the media like confetti. UKIP are not a party for the people of Britain; but then neither are the Conservatives, Labour or Lib Dems. Politicians of all parties have forgotten who they are supposed to serve in favour of following the money; rather like several of the last Labour Government. Even now the arrangements are being made to prevent future Governments across Europe from reverting industries and services back to public ownership; following talks between the politicians & the Corporations owned and run by the Elite families who created the Global Economy for their own profit. We need a party who can bring a change to the brand of capitalism that has created a minority with more wealth than they could ever use while men, women & children die from hunger, disease & violence around the globe. They, enabled by the politicians they develop, use people as a commodity that is disposable, even in a country as rich as ours. Our problem is that too many of middle Britain are comfortable and are loath to change the status quo; very much a case of I’m all right Jack. The regions in England receive terrible treatment from its own Government; the North East despite the wasted years of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown will vote Labour because their fathers did.
    We need a revolution of thought and a brave media to get out the message that out so called democracy is not fit for purpose.

  7. H Statton says:

    The Masses need to get off their apathetic Arses,
    Get the young to the polls to taste Election Rock ’n’ Roll.
    Folks before you vote, think beyond the protest quotes.
    People bleed and died for the ink in your latent pens,
    So think and use it wisely, not for Right-Wing flashes like Le Pen.
    Britain is a wonder, a secular land famed for its tolerance,
    Think about your neighbours and the fictitious political abhorrence,
    All caused by extreme groups moving toward right-wing defence.
    Is our country all at sea or just treading water?
    Think about your friends before inviting political slaughter.
    Get to the polling station just like you know you ought to,
    Or see a life of cultural persecution, exclusion, and racism we ought not to.

    We have the freedom of speech, and yes it will sometimes come at a cost, but who would want to live in a world which is governed by oppression and obstructs the education of multiple ideas, and sacrifice exchange, the channel of communication for the bully-boy tactics of totalitarianism. Before next year’s General Election read each party’s manifesto. You might just find that further down the page and away from their popular no. 1 policy. You might be unwittingly handing some of the seats in Westminster to a more unsavoury team than you first realised. THINK, CARE, AND VOTE!

  8. Jason says:

    The political classes have taken us for granted for decades, proceeding with their grubby European masterplan and deeming any objectors as a bunch of europhobic oddballs.
    Well, no more.

  9. Grant says:

    There is one other issue that hasn’t been addressed and that is the fact that the UK is giving much of our money to Europe or foreign aid. We may be on the mend but that is no thanks to the politicians. Charity begins at home and we shouldn’t be giving money away when it is needed over here

  10. Jason Satt says:


    If anybody with the right knowledge, attention and morals spent the right amount of time watching and reading the news broadcasted in the UK media there will be only one conclusion. Journalism in its current form is sensationalist and in many cases used to manipulate people. Journalists are biased to whatever they are reporting and pick and choose only the facts that will suit their agenda. The media has an enormous influence in shaping what people think, believe and perceive as reality. The problem is what the media tell to people is only half the truth and very frequently not the truth at all. Journalists will seldom be impartial or non biased because they are humans and inevitable they will take side to whatever agenda suits them best.

  11. JaneT says:

    Jon every time you make a crass anti-UKIP comment on your programme you are demonising the ordinary man & woman outside of the privileged metropolis. Can’t you at least try not to be so blatantly biased on C4 News?

  12. Jason says:

    Have to say, I used to really like C4 news.
    In recent years though, it seems to have become a liberal lefty news outlet, with an axe to grind against anything that doesn’t get the blessing of the liberal left.
    Favourite topics seem to be digging out some oddball buried somewhere UKIP’s ranks and presenting that single person as the anthropomorphism of the party; the party incarnate, if you like.

    As a consequence, most of it I can’t stand watching any more.
    Oh well, times change.

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