The Establishment

Ah Owen Jones, hero of the left. In his book “The Establishment: And how they get away with it” he rails against the man. The man it turns out is politicians, big business and the media. Of course Jones is an Oxford graduate who writes for a national newspaper. It received mixed reviews from the critics (who are also part of The Establishment) but wider support from the proletariat including being Waterstones’ book of the month.

Jones jumps around to various topics, gradually weaving them together. He begins by talking about the links between politicians and big business. Most big businesses have MPs on their boards for example, and cabinet ministers regularly earn £70,000 a year for non-executive directorships. Money that most people can only dream of earning for working full time, let alone for a handful of days year. Being an MP can be incredibly profitable in this manner and yet how can they possibly claim to be objective in such regards?

Thus big business took control of our society after being invited in by Thatcher. This was the end of the drive towards income equality in the UK. They settled down and began to fuse economic liberalism with an authoritarian state.

Jones discusses Hillsborough, though his discussion of the Battle of Orgreave is much more relevant. The police attacked, beat and falsely arrested protestors and then tried to cover it up. After a 7 year battle, they were eventually forced to pay out half a million pounds in compensation. Sadly, things haven’t got much better, as the killing of Ian Tomlinson, a newspaper seller who got caught in the G8 protests shows.

No wonder so many people are too scared to attend protests with the fear of violence, kettling for hours and hours, and false arrest ever present when the police are around.

According to Jones, the police have have become an instrument of the state, going round murdering and raping people without consequence. Their actions rob of us our right to free assembly and protest, and their stop and search powers rob us of our presumption of innocence, even though only 9% of such searches end in arrest, let alone charges being pressed.

So much for the working class being the benefit scroungers too. Jones claims it is the rich that are the beneficiaries of the system. They enjoy the educated workforce, infrastructure and regulated society that the state provides while benefiting from huge government handouts.

The bailout of the banks is an amount of money the rest of us can only dream of. The low pay companies offer the working class is subsides by working tax credits and housing benefit. Companies like ATOS enjoy £100 million a year contracts to turf people off sorely needed benefits while the owners send their children to heavily subsidised public schools that are given £88 million a year in tax-breaks.

Yet the government continues to sell off and privatise our public services. Why? Not because the electorate demand it. Polls show that even most Conservative voters support public ownership of the utilities and railways. More likely, it is the £70,000 a year politicians are receiving for their non-executive board positions.

Jones concludes that we should take back our public services, which could be done at no cost as franchises expire, and increase income tax on the rich to bring in extra money. And it would bring in extra money. Rich people do not leave when you increase the tax rate, because they want to live in a safe and secure society with good utilities, infrastructure and a well-educated workforce. Societies that enjoy heavy state spending.

The Establishment

Just a footnote regarding the book cover above: my copy had a quote from Irvine Welsh on the front, not Russell Brand.

Timeline

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 7th, 2015 at 10:29 am and is filed under Books. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.