The financial crisis affected all demographics but in particular the working, lower middle and middle class, the same demographic range that had been subject to the largest change from Labour’s multiculturalism drive and the economic boom built on greed.
Up to this point, liberal left thinking was the dominant player expressed by both main stream media and politicians. Anyone with genuine concerns that may be contentious were simply ignored or subject to labels of bigotry and a lack of education. This ensured that those affected remained silent or stifled at best, scared of the reaction that would befall them should they mention anything that the liberal left of society would deem offensive or controversial.
So in the myer of the financial crisis, coupled with rapid change within society and the self-imposed silence of many through fear, the right of politics began to really take hold. UKIP (UK Independence Party) had operated for some time but attitudes were changing towards the status quo establishment and left liberal thinking. UKIP rose steadily recognizing this by listening to concerns within large sections of society and voicing them in the media, all the while under attack by the liberal left, main stream media and the establishment.
This culminated in David Cameron calling UKIP fruit cakes and closet racists prior to the last European elections (over 2 years ago) though this sentiment changed rapidly when UKIP actually won the said European elections by a clear margin. David Cameron suddenly realised that he was calling large sections of the country closet racists and fruit cakes.
The UKIP win came despite a number of gaffes by some of its members before the election harboring clear racist overtones. It was a clear show of rejection to the establishment and its path over the last decade or so, not a willing endorsement of UKIP wholesale.
What the establishment and liberal left should have done at that point was take the sentiments seriously. Instead what the establishment did was carry on regardless in their arrogance and disconnect from large sections of the public within the UK. What the left liberal media and politicians did was carry on regardless, accusing anyone speaking out on pressures within society as uneducated, ignorant or racist.
Now, following the financial crisis, politics has shifted to the right and continues to drift further right. The disconnect between the elite establishment and the public, especially following the financial crisis and fall out from foreign policy, is larger than ever.
The Conservatives moved further to the right trying to compensate for their under estimations of UKIP popularity on key issues, realising that many votes are now found there, but they cannot shake the elite establishment image (because they are) which is still toxic. The liberal left mentality and failure to deal with contentious issues has directly allowed the right to tap into the large, fertile, unchecked ground of the frustrated silent (of which there are many).
These main drivers in public life, both in media and politics within the last 15 years, have directly shaped the rejection we see today and much of the current sentiment among the public. This is not to discredit left and liberal politics, it is the lack of common sense deployed at the same time. Unfortunately it is feelings and emotions that have led the liberal and left of politics with common sense taking a back seat.
A recent prominent EU example of this saw Chancellor Angela Merkel opening Germany’s doors to a million refugees and migrants as the recent crisis ensued (and is still ongoing despite little media attention) without consulting or organising logistically with countries that would be directly affected en route. It subsequently caused chaos and further division, quite literally, with the construction of fences across a number of EU member state borders.
Many war refugees originate from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. Countries that the West have utterly destabilised through foreign policy decisions such as invasions and occupations, air campaigns or proxy support. All have severely lacked the required planning and subsequent assets needed to accomplish the stated aims, all have further destabilised the region, all have cost vast amounts of tax payers money and all have fueled violent fundamentalist Islamic ideology.
IS and other fundamentalist Islamic groups are fully aware of the political and social unrest within Western countries and will continue to carry out or inspire further attacks at frequent intervals. This will inevitably radicalize sections of society against Muslim’s generally, there by creating division on which to capitalise and exactly what groups like IS want. It will embolden the right and far right wings who can capitalise on the ensuing chaos and reach out to those seeking radical solutions, again, furthering division and exactly what groups like IS want.
A recent example was French Prime Minister Manuel Valls making a statement after the latest attack in Nice, France. In a section of the statement he said that:
‘Times have changed, and France is going to have to live with terrorism, and we must face this together and show our collective sang-froid’
This is an absolute gift for right-wing politicians such as Marine Le Pen of the far right Front National (FN). Why? Because they can capitalise on it with claims of weakness and a situation that does not have to be accepted.
With increased military responses abroad each time an attack occurs, IS claim that attacks will increase in the West. A recent example of this is the latest video release by IS directed at the French public stating that they will increase the severity of attacks following President Francois Hollande’s strengthening of French military operations over Syria and Iraq. IS affiliated media website the Islamic News Agency reported on this recent video stating:
‘Vowed the Islamic state of the French people to launch more attacks than its predecessors, it affects French citizens in Paris and Marseille, Nice, and various French cities.’
‘Islamic State explained that the declaration of French President Francois Hollande to strengthen operations against them in Syria and Iraq, following the Nice process, offset operations more impact than the previous ones in France.’
Each attack that occurs will further radicalize Western societies and further enforces the narrative of right-wing groups. It makes the political establishment look weak in the eyes of the public, unable to provide security and unable to deal with the problems presented.
24 hour main stream news outlets like BBC News must report on attacks which serves as advertisement for IS. If reports start to be limited and narratives adjusted through fear of radicalizing the public against Muslim populations within society, then they will lose credibility. All of which serve the aims of fundamentalist Islamic groups such as IS.
The combined result of all this in summary?
- The rejection by large sections of the country of the political and financial establishment. This was seen in the recent UK vote to leave the EU despite a massive concerted (and some what biased) effort by establishment politicians, main stream media and financial institutions such as the ECB and IMF to achieve a remain vote. The very fact that said establishment figures, institutions and main stream media news outlets were so surprised at the vote to Leave the EU confirms without doubt their utter disconnect from large sections of the population over many years.
- The Middle East and North Africa in utter chaos as a result of terrible decisions made and backed by politicians of all stripes. Pandora’s box was opened in 2001 with forces unleashed that ignorant politicians could never imagine. Now the ever-increasing threat and successful terrorist attacks subsequently allow governments to justify mass surveillance on its citizens. This is despite mass surveillance being proven to have little effect in preventing terrorist attacks as confirmed by a White House review panel in December 2013.
- IS and other fundamentalist Islamic groups are fully aware of the political instability in the West and looking to take full advantage. An increase in attacks will undoubtedly lead to division within Western populations, an increased response which targets the Muslim section of society will further boost recruitment and legitimacy.
- The lack of financial progress or social mobility by large sections of society due to the damage caused by the financial crisis. Lack of investment and housing during the ‘boom years’ and subsequent cuts during the conservative years following the financial crisis, most cannot purchase a property without having to save for large deposits first. This is proving impossible for many due to static wages, massively inflated rent prices and general living costs.
- The mass refugee and migrant crisis in Europe that is still on going with many stemming from countries we have directly and adversely affected. In doing so, causing additional social pressures due to large numbers arriving in short periods of time with little genuine integration. Also allowing possible fundamentalist Islamic members into the EU without adequate checks, particularly during the first months of the crisis.
- The financial sector that has tightened up massively but now stifles many that could progress due to the requirement of large deposits before lending money. Combined with little investment made in housing stocks over many years, it has increased the rental market resulting in expensive rent costs. Consequently it has driven up house purchase prices beyond the reach of most affected social demographics.
- The rise of the right and far right-wing in the UK, Europe, US and the speed at which such groups and political party’s have moved from fringe to mainstream in recent years. An example of this can be seen with Marine Le Pen’s popularity in France which increases after every terrorist attack. The Austrian far right candidate Norbert Hofer who missed out on being elected as President recently by around 0.4%, so close in fact that the Austrian Courts granted a recount. Make no mistake, public opinion in the West is shifting amid the ongoing turbulence. See the bottom of this post for more examples of the right and far right rising in Europe.
The UK has now undergone change politically following the recent EU vote, rehashed politicians speak new messages of hope and new promises of economic fairness leaving nobody behind. The same messages spoken previously by former leaders of both Labour and the Conservatives.
It is to be remembered however that most current politicians of one stripe or another were present, party to or voted on the many catastrophic decisions highlighted above in this post. The voting system is still not representational and remains a biased first past the post system. This ensures that it favors the two main political party’s of Labour and the Conservatives resulting in a continued limited choice of two.
The 2015 general election highlighted this when the Conservative Party gained a majority win despite receiving just 25% of the overall vote. With Labour currently in turmoil it seems that only the Conservative Party can govern the country for the foreseeable future which is a strange form of democracy by limiting the public to one choice.
So who is made to suffer the fall out of these catastrophic errors and failures made by the political and financial establishment elites time and again? The general public. This is why attitudes are shifting among Western populations towards the establishment elite.
However, ignorant and disconnected establishment elites are now starting to see the fall out and ramifications of their decisions, but as ever and true to form, they are looking to redirect attention from their catastrophic decisions and capitalise on the fall out from them.
UPDATE: 26 August 2016:
BBC Newsnight have finally caught up and discussed the very issue’s highlighted in this post on the 25 August 2016, albeit over a month after this post was written.
UPDATE: 16 September 2016:
BBC Radio 4’s Today programme interviewed the former UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne following the EU referendum in June.
(Fast forward to 2 hours and 10 minutes to hear George Osborne’s interview).
During the interview George Osborne is asked if he over exaggerated the warnings of imminent economic implosion should the UK vote to leave the EU which has not transpired. He responds by saying that he realises now just how much he underestimated the scale of disaffection toward the political and financial establishments as highlighted previously in this post.
UPDATE: 06 December 2016:
In keeping with this post and the fall out of decisions made by incumbent politicians in both the UK, EU and US, many politicians are starting to pander to the inevitable change in public opinion. Angela Merkel’s reputation has been severely damaged within Germany following her handling of the refugee and migrant crisis (which is still ongoing) in which she opened Germany’s doors to a million refugee’s and migrants earlier this year with little, if any consultation.
Inevitably this would cause major political and social pressures within Germany and as such, hoping for re-election Angela Merkel has now realised that public sentiment toward her is increasingly negative.
As such, Angela Merkel now wishes to see a burqa ban in Germany. This is very different rhetoric to that displayed only a few months ago but inevitable as outlined earlier in this post. Increasingly negative public opinion, partly due to Angela Merkel’s previous decisions, is now forcing a back track in rhetoric in a bid to revive public opinion toward her and her party as she seeks re-election.
Additional examples showing the rise of right and far right politics in Europe: