Owen Jones: “The Establishment – And How They Get Away With It” – in seven paragraphs


1. What is the modern British Establishment? It is a vague concept. I ask Lord Butler, a wealthy old duffer and former Cabinet Secretary. “I’m not sure,” he says airily, his heels digging into Katie, a single mother on benefits he uses as a footstool. I also ask Derek, who mans the self-checkout aisle at my local M&S Simply Food. He doesn’t know either. This conclusively demonstrates that no-one in Britain can satisfactorily define the Establishment, so I have instead used the following non-partisan criteria: (1) greedy corporations run by feckless capitalist pig-dogs; (2) craven public institutions polluted by Thatcherite ideology; and (3) anyone else I suspect of being part of the blatant conspiracy to prevent Ed Miliband from taking his rightful place as Prime Minister. What is clear is that the Establishment is bound together by shared ideology and mutual self-interest rather than by class or background, so for the avoidance of doubt the fact that I studied at Oxford is completely irrelevant. Anyway, this distracts from the real issue: the terrible damage being inflicted on British society by chief Tory death-eater David Cameron and his Old Etonian clique.

2. The new Establishment was probably formed on 3 April 1947 at a conference held in Mont Pelerin, Switzerland. Here, crazed Austrian psychopath Friedrich Hayek (free-market economist and author of The Road to Serfdom) articulated his laissez-faire ideology: i.e. a means of systematically obliterating society’s poorest and most vulnerable. Hayek’s ideas were considered revolutionary and were largely ignored during the post-WWII consensus era. This was a happy time: my research indicates that there was no crime, no unemployment and free money for everyone. Alas, this all ended in 1979 upon the election of Grand High Witch Margaret Thatcher, a devotee of Hayek’s “neo-liberal” economic strategy. Thatcher was the architect of diabolical policies to roll back the size of the state, such as privatisation and lower tax rates. I asked three Marxist activists, some bloke I met in the Guardian canteen and Neil Kinnock whether these policies had destroyed Britain: they all said yes. This is clear proof that they did. However, Thatcher’s demented worship of the free-market is now at the heart of Establishment dogma and is fiercely upheld by its core institutions (the Murdoch press, the police, bankers, MPs, etc.) who connive to preserve the status quo mainly at the expense of starving orphans.

3. One of the hallmarks of the new Establishment is its reliance on think tanks and lobbyists to advance its evil causes: I have chosen to widen my definition of ‘Establishment’ just so I can give them a good kicking.  I have coffee with some pantomime villains lobbyists, who have succeeded in promoting a low-tax, low-public-spending governance model. Disturbingly, I can reveal that some of these lobbyists are funded by corporations in order to promote their capitalist interests. As we know, corporations are inherently bad because their intention is to be profitable. Some businessmen and lobbyists even know MPs personally and often socialise together. What a disgrace. Completely different to the incestuous relationship between trade unions and Labour MPs in the 1970s, which doesn’t fit with The Narrative so let’s gloss over it and bang on about corporations being all corporation-y…. shadowy network….elitist conspiracy….smash the poor…etc.

4. The Establishment could not survive without the slavish support of all British media apart from The Guardian, which is the lone voice of Truth. (If you’re reading, please keep paying me for my weekly column). All newspapers suck up to the Establishment and promote its neo-liberal agenda because Rupert Murdoch is a tyrant and all newspapers exist solely do his bidding, regardless of whether he owns them. The media pick on and demonise the vulnerable in society, protecting corporations and MPs from scrutiny. ‘What about the Daily Telegraph exposing the MPs’ expenses scandal? Or the aggressive scrutiny of the Iraq War inquiries?’ I hear you ask. Errrm, that kind of completely contradicts my argument…but look over here, one MP fiddled his expenses to build a duck house at his multi-billion pound country estate! Now I’ve distracted you, lets go back to some more of my exclusive discoveries: (1) proprietors like Rupert Murdoch buy newspapers in order to promote their interests rather than as a benevolent public service; (2) politicians like to get favourable coverage from newspapers; and (3) newspapers often use dubious tactics. I speak to some people who have received negative coverage from Murdoch newspapers. They didn’t like it.

5. The Establishment also relies on the police to enforce its tyrannical, authoritarian worldview. The police have been lapdogs of the government ever since Thatcher increased their pay in the 1980s, a cynical tactic to win their support ahead of her bid to obliterate the trade unions simply for her own personal pleasure. This was a terrible shame, because my research indicates that the trade unions were utterly blameless and were led by saints like Arthur Scargill, a modern day Gandhi. Examining the evidence, one can link every policing scandal of the last thirty years to Friedrich Hayek’s belief in the free market. For example, the Hillsborough disaster and subsequent police cover up was clearly an inevitable result of lower tax rates for top earners. I’m not quite sure how, but it sounded convincing in my mind. Furthermore, the Stephen Lawrence tragedy was a natural consequence of Thatcher’s privatisation programme. Or something. What we do know is that the police, the government and the media are all in cahoots with each other to advance the same mutually beneficial interests. Ah – the Andrew Mitchell ‘Plebgate’ scandal has just broken, which suggests the complete opposite of what I’ve just written. Bollocks. Time to fudge a non-conclusion before moving swiftly on.

6. We can all agree that the City is awful – full of soulless spivs on the take who like nothing more than giving poor people a good thwack with their corporate umbrellas. I meet Hugo, a 24 year old city lawyer who almost literally vomits money at me. I put it to him that he is one of the utter shits who hasn’t been held to account for bringing the global economy to its knees in 2008. “But I’ve just started my training contract,” he witters, “I was still at school in 2008”. This is a typical excuse peddled by greedy finance types, but it won’t wash. Later that day I meet Doris, a frail pensioner who has recently lost her housing benefit. These two anecdotal examples prove that the Establishment cosies up to the rich and despises the poor. As the City is a central pillar of the Establishment, ex-commodities trader Nigel Farage is naturally an Establishment figure. Hmm…but he’s also leader of a fringe party that is challenging the Westminster elite. Oh dear…I’ve tied myself up in knots. Here are some more statistics about bankers’ bonuses juxtaposed with stories about public spending cuts.

7. Intellectual powerhouse Russell Brand has described me as ‘our generation’s Orwell’, a comparison that I find so embarrassing and undeserved that I’ve splashed it all over the front cover of this book. In order to live up to that billing you’re probably expecting me to come up with some solutions to the various problems I’ve identified above. It is a truth universally acknowledged that top down, infantilising statism hobbled by an enormous bureaucracy is preferable to our current system of capitalism, so we need to revolt against the Establishment and replace its central figures with errr…another set of ideologues that have a worldview more compatible with my own. We need to rebuild trade unions to their 1970s glory, so that they can effectively hold the government to ransom by striking whenever they feel like it. We need to tax earned income above £25,000 a year at a 99% flat rate. We need to introduce a tax on air, as statistics I’ve just made up show that the rich tend to breathe more than the underprivileged. My final comment is to reiterate that anything bad that’s ever happened to anyone is almost certainly Margaret Thatcher’s fault. Or Rupert Murdoch’s. Or… [cont…another 50 pages].

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2 Responses to Owen Jones: “The Establishment – And How They Get Away With It” – in seven paragraphs

  1. Tim says:

    Another incredibly accurate and amusing read. Keep it up!


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