Corbynista Exploitation of Grenfell Tower Anger is Tyrannical Populism

50 years ago we sang “All you need is love” as the BBC linked up the world with the Beatles by satellite for the first time ever in the summer of ’67. The summer of love.

These days a catchy little meme like that is generated every few seconds and disseminated at the speed of light around the media bubble we might easily call our global village. Increasingly the medium is the message, but not all memes are created equal. Yesterday’s meme was the idea “Grenfell Tower IS political” or if you prefer “Grenfell Tower IS NOT a tragedy, it’s a monstrous crime”. And boy, are the Corbynista’s exploiting these shamelessly.

Sure Grenfell Tower is political, but it’s not Political, it is not necessarily or usefully partisan political. There are many questions of policy and implementation, about green & fire-safety standards in new and refurbished high-rise buildings, about social housing, about the cladding spec, building control practices as well as international experience and changes in these. Relevant all, almost certainly, but the cause celebre? Already a rush to judgement. Funding of social housing and cost-cutting in public services? Tory austerity or Labour budgetary control? Where to point fingers? Which heads need to be rolling? Boris’ “get stuffed” was in response to being called a liar. He did actually respond to the funding criticisms of fire-station closures. There was no shortage or slowness of funded firefighters at the blaze.

Anger is a fair human response following the horror and grief at the human tragedy. But it is not fair policy unless you’re promoting populism.

Corbyn and McDonnell are. Political opportunists of the most contemptible kind. Mass protest against a democratic election result (!) being stoked with the Grenfell Tower anger. Commandeer property from the rich (!) to house the poor. Corbyn man of the people (!) vs May’s awkwardness failing to deal directly with an angry public. Listen to ourselves folks.

I’m no fan of May or Boris. But as a Labour voter I was one to point out that “for the many not the few” was almost an ideal definition for a tyranny of the majority in the reality of an inhomogeneous plural society . Interestingly, listening to Peter Jones, Newcastle University professor of political philosophy last night, he paralleled the idea of a tyrant being a misliked king with the idea of populism as “misliked democracy”.

Populism is thin on ideology, more style than content. Sure it looks like democracy – a “popular” numerical majority may be involved (though let’s not forget in #GE2017 case Labour polled the minority), but it’s actually an attempt at tyranny. A brazen revolutionary coup.
It is classic populism to contrast “our people” with a liberal elite political class. Often explicitly anti-intellectual, anti-expert, anti-liberal, non-PC and anti-judiciary say in the Trump case. Often nativist or nationalist anti-other in UKIP and assorted anti-EU / anti-immigration populist parties. But always demonising other in contrast to us. They are the enemies of us, the people.
The rise of populist thinking can be a valuable corrective. It’s a symptom of failures in an established democratic system but it’s not an alternative to democracy, Churchill’s least-worst form of government. Outrage and anger must be addressed; questions and criticisms not dismissed, but they cannot be allowed to form the basis of “alt” policy or politics. Left or right. Trump / Farage or Chavez / Corbyn.
Problem is in our modern media we have a perfect storm where such wisdom gets trampled under foot in the rush to judgement on instantly available “facts”. Youth is fetishised over experience. Older voters are demonised for complacency about the future. WTF? I am part of the problem and someone has a final solution?
Whether we’re talking about electronically connected “traditional” print and broadcast media or entirely social media, there is a bubble effect. Does the Daily Mail reflect its readership or does it create them? Does a media consumer reject cognitive dissonance and self-select the content it wants? Such chicken-and-egg tensions should always suggest an evolutionary cycle at work. A memetic cycle working at the speed of light, where populist ideas, skewed to be thin on ideology and strong on catchy style, naturally win the democratic media arms race.
Demonisation beats love? The innocent victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy / crime deserve better. Careful what you wish for. I know which meme I prefer.
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[Post Notes:

OK, so the rhetoric has changed today to empty properties, but still disgraceful grandstanding exploitation by Corbyn. Appeals for donated resources already swamped – even house keys – this is an issue for the local authority and mayor. Corbyn has a national government opposition to form and act. Labour have still not accepted #GE2017 democratic result. It stinks. It’s not democracy.

And a counter-view, albeit agreeing populism is dangerous. Yes I do know what it means; see above.

And Brexit this time, but still fighting the election. Knocking opponents capability and right to govern instead of policy:

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Also published on Medium.

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