Now that we have had a little time to digest the Supreme Court’s decision on whether “Prime Minister” de Pfeffel Johnson acted illegally in his advice to the crown when asking for parliament to be suspended, and the mainstream media has been able to archive the story in the ‘lets protect the establishment by forgetting that they have been found guilty of criminal conspiracy’ filing cabinet, I thought it would be interesting to start unpicking some aspects of this recent demonstration of UK plutocracy.
Let’s first take a moment to consider who it is we are talking about when we say the UK government. Unsurprisingly two thirds of the cabinet appointments made by the American-born, Eton and Oxford educated Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson went to fee-paying schools. And nearly half attended university at Oxford or Cambridge. And these figures aren’t particularly abnormal when compared to recent Conservative governments. While similar to Cameron’s cabinets, it falls significantly short of Major’s cabinet, and pales in comparison to Thatchers. And if you are in any doubt, the Sutton Trust have absolutely nailed it again.
And in terms of the 12 Supreme Court Justices tasked with scrutinising the actions of de Pfeffel Johnson et al., according to Wikipedia and Who’s Who anyway, 1 of them went to a comprehensive school, 1 to a grammar school and 9 to fee-paying schools, 2 of which were Eton and Charterhouse.
The reason that this is important is because many of the institutions and processes that we as a society are taught to accept as meritocratic and therefore democratic are quite patently not. The people that can afford to send their children to one of the top fee-paying schools are in the top 1% economically. And by overwhelmingly populating all the positions of real power with the children of the top 1%, a narrow concentration of interests can maintain economic inequality through an intergenerational plutocratic political structure. And although it doesn’t need a degree in PPE from Oxford to see it for what it is, it apparently does require one to omit it from any and all analysis.
In 2013 I wrote an essay for New Left Project called The Right to Vote in a Rigged Game. It was triggered by Russell Brand saying that the electoral process in the UK was largely rigged by the ruling class and therefore voting was a pointless exercise if one was looking to use it as a method for equalising society. This most recent series of events driven by de Pfeffel Johnson et al., for me at least raises this question again.
So without repeating myself too much, albeit with a six year gap in between, the UK government describes itself as a “parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarch”. What this means in the governments own words, is that the UK “government is directly accountable to Parliament”, and that “the legislative body has ‘absolute sovereignty’, … [and] is supreme to all other government institutions, including any executive or judicial bodies”.
However, it is not that simple. Parliamentary sovereignty has to be understood in relation to the Royal Prerogative, which is a set of powers which are held by the Monarch and normally exercised by ministers who are empowered to do so by that same Monarch. And “these powers are beyond the control of the House of Commons and the House of Lords”.
In short, the government can go to war, make and unmake treaties and grant honours. “In modern times, Government Ministers exercise the majority of the prerogative powers either in their own right or through the advice they provide to the Queen which she is bound constitutionally to follow.” Which is why I bring it up now.
One of the problems with this level of political sophistry is that without having spent a lifetime studying constitutional law, it very quickly becomes something more akin to an ongoing verbal sleight of hand. And again, this is the very reason that the likes of de Pfeffel Johnson think that their Eton/Oxford classics educations makes them the most suitable candidates to run the country. Unfortunately, in both theory and practice, the reality is something more akin to a Stanley Unwin sketch.
The fact is, we’ve been warned about the dangers of believing that incompetent gibberish is intellectual superiority when it is delivered in the correct accent, or from the correct position in society. Which really should give us a moments pause, when seen in the context of the now infamous words of de Maistre, that every country gets the government it deserves.
But I disagree. What exactly have any of us done to deserve this level of oppression and exploitation? And perhaps more importantly, the contemptuous pantomime with which it is delivered is an insult to every man, woman and child in this country.
For me, one of the fundamental omissions of all debates around the political nature of UK society, when administrated and approved by the establishment, is that of the grand lie that underpins it all. I would argue that the lie on which all other political lies are built in a “modern democracy”, is that power can be shared equally while wealth is held unequally. And this is not a particularly controversial view either. It is arguably, although rarely admitted, at the very fabric of all discussions about political systems and governments.
Take Brexit. We can all remember when the 1%ers argued among themselves, using some very dubious claims, about who out of the 1% should have the right to rule over the population of Britain. And largely, the 1% owned and run media and commercial sector colluded within the overarching terms of reference of that debate. Even foreign politicians weighed in to that discussion.
And how was this framed? On one side we were told it was about ‘taking back power from Brussels’ , and ‘the sovereignty of the British parliament’. And on the other side it was about ‘being part of something bigger’, and punching above our weight on the global stage.
However, as we can now see, the reality is that it was a debate about who had the right to oppress the people living in the UK, a Brussels elite or a Westminster elite. Which is why, when you start to unpick the arguments as they are presented they begin to unravel quite quickly. The unpalatable truth is that the ruling class will do whatever it has to do in order to oppress the rest of us politically, so that their friends and families can continue to exploit us economically.
And of course as we move on, the question of whether de Pfeffel Johnson and his bully-ingdon entourage used Brexit as a veil to hide their true intentions which were to push their way into No 10 is becoming increasingly clear for everyone to see. Time and time again exactly what sort of hate-filled racism and sexism bounces around that empty head spills out for all of us to see. But still, like the cypher he is, he will do whatever it takes to validate his own desperate and infantile ego. When he thinks being anti-racist will work for him anti-racist is what he will present himself as.
On one hand it is a shame he doesn’t have the intellect to think before he contradicts himself because he makes the british people look like idiots to the rest of the world. But on the other hand, it is quite helpful, because if we were ever in any doubt as to whether we live in a meritocracy or for that matter a democracy, the fact that de Pfeffel Johnson is the unelected Prime Minister of the UK should really tell us everything we need to know about the level of contempt that the ruling establishment has for the rest of us. What we do with that information will determine what kind of society we will live in.