Bad news for Guardian readers
The bad news is that Guardian readers will never rule the country.
Confession: I (the author of this page) read the Guardian, reluctantly, with far less enthusiasm than in the past and only because someone else in the house reads it. I have a gut feeling that my subscription may end soon.
The Guardian is certainly not a left-leaning paper (it never was), it remains firmly "liberal" - hence its failure to see through Blair in 1997, its long-standing support of the "moderates" of "New Labour" and its antipathy to Jeremy Corbyn.
It has become a defender of the "moderate" neoliberal status quo, it has immersed itself in the London/Westminster bubble, as have most of our politicians, and it could moan for England in the Olympics. It has become the BBC in print.
It has become a negative and depressing newspaper which rarely proposes solutions.
Comment is easy - even the "man in the pub" can do comment - specific proposals are harder. Moaning is pointless, it achieves nothing and drives people towards depression - or the bottle!
Who are Guardian readers?
Of course there are exceptions to every stereotype but the general Guardian reader is:
- Above average intelligence.
- Well educated, usually state educated but, since the days of Blair, more and more likely to send children to private school.
- Well informed and well read - my study groans under the weight of learned tomes!
- Familiar with Thomas Picketty (though probably never read his magnum opus), Owen Jones, Guy Standing, Paul Mason, Keith Flett.
- In a professional job or in the caring professions.
- Frequently miserable about the state of the world - especially after reading Polly Toynbee - a Gold Medal SDP moaner who rarely proposes positive solutions.
- Liberal minded, often left-leaning, maybe even a few socialists (like me).
- Secular rather than religious. (Yes, I know there are some religious Guardian readers!)
- Well meaning.
- Rarely get involved - how often are the hundreds of Guardian readers in South Derbyshire seen at CLP meetings?
- Harmless and easy to ignore as far as politicians are concerned.
- Expert at recycling 35mm cassettes.
Too clever by half!
I was once told: "you know too much, you frighten people."
I think a lot of Guardian readers suffer the same thing: we are too well informed, we know too much (not a bad thing in itself, but ...), we have an opinion on just about everything, we are too clever by half - and that scares people.
Guardian readers are keen on discussion, on argument, on thrashing things out.
This in itself creates a problem - we adopt a language and a style which can be very off-putting to people who don't really care about politics and who just want to get on with their lives.
Things get worse when we adopt the language of others: the language of economics, of history and of politics. We assume that others have the same background knowledge as ourselves, we are almost always wrong and, worst of all, we often start lecturing!
Why are we such slow learners?
Religious people continue to pray - even after 2,000 years of it failing to work.
Guardian readers continue to argue in a rational and well informed way - even though such arguments never work.
If there is one thing that Brexit and Trump have taught us, it is that rational arguments don't work.
Like religious people, Guardian readers are slow learners!
Getting a grip
Do we want to moan and argue about the state of the world or do we want to change it for the better?
If argument is your thing then arguing with fellow Guardian readers is the way to go.
If changing the world turns you on then you need to change.
Back to fundmentals, back to the gut
Socialism (let's not worry about the definition - that's another argument for Guardian readers) is, above all else, about fairness - as summed up in "for the many, not the few."
I said this to a lawyer, he laughed: "you must be the only one still believing in that!"
We are faced with cynics: "the world's not a fair place - get used to it!" Cynicisn is a corrosive attitude, it leads to doing nothing about anything and opens the door to fascism.
Socialism is about a gut feel for when things aren't fair, they aren't right, they aren't just.
We need to get back to that gut feel.
We need to be arguing about fairness: a fair reward for effort, a fair distribution of wealth, a fair contribution to society, a fair recognition of personal responsibilities, a fair distribution of services.
LVT as an example
Land Value Tax (LVT) as a proposal has been around for over 150 years. It is well researched and millions of words have been written about it.
It has been analysed and turned inside out but it has been couched in the language of economists (because it's about tax and money and some people still believe in economists - even after 2008) and every possible justification for it has been examined in depth.
However, when it comes to informing people about it (and by "people" we mean everyone from politicians to the "man in the pub") we should drop all this baggage and stick to fairness.
Land ownership in this country isn't fair - it hasn't been fair since 1066. It isn't fair that those with land pay no tax on it while everyone owning or renting a home does.
Council tax isn't fair - we in South Debyshire pay almost three times as much as those in Kensington and Chelsea.
LVT is fair and just - and it can be seen to be fair and just by everyone - you don't need pages of well argued economic in-speak to make it so.
LVT is a tax on the value of land and it will replace unfair property taxes.
Any arguments beyond this (using it to replace other taxes, "new economic models" etc.) are a complete waste of time - like praying!
Let's get back to the gut, let's get back to simple arguments about what's fair and what isn't.
Questions for the doorstep
- Do you think Council Tax is a fair system given that people in South Derbyshire are paying almost three times as much as those in Kensington and Chelsea?
- Do you think it fair that you have to pay Council Tax on your home while someone owning thousands of acres of land pays no tax on it?
- Do you think it fair for developers to buy land and sit on it, without paying tax on it, hoping that house prices will rise?
- Do you think empty houses, empty offices and empty factories should be left unused with no tax paid on them?
- Do you think it fair that local authorities are preventing from borrowing to build social housing to help with the current housing crisis?
- Do you think local authorities should be properly funded to meet the needs of local communities?
- Are you in favour of those with the most expensive homes paying the most tax on them?
- Are you in favour of scrapping all our current property taxes and replacing them with a single tax based on the value of land?
- Are you happy that the value of land is determined by where it is and what someone is allowed to do with it?
Land Value Tax (LVT) is a Labour Party policy.
Vote Labour to ensure LVT is implemented and the current unfair system is scrapped.