Trolling as political debate…

I made a comment this afternoon which was construed as me taking disablism to a whole new level.

This was the point I was making. For my entire lifetime, political debate for many people in this country has been little more than trolling. The debate politicians offer on welfare, is accusations they KNOW are false. We KNOW they are false. This means that instead of discussing the very important relationship welfare has with our economy, ,and the economic inequality it should allow us to measure- we have people responding to accusations noone believes.  Spartacus showed that.

Trolling being the flinging of accusations to elicit a response, or keep everyone busy. Instead of discussing our public services role in society, we are defending ourselves constantly from unlimited accusations. It used to be just the ill, the unemployed,  increasingly over the years, disabled people, (not that that ever died off really). In the years since the banking crisis ‘ended’, the pool of people subject to that trolling has widened considerably. The trolling a necessary side effect of the positions of all political parties.

We are now actually seeing people in receipt of Disability Living Allowance, the benefit that has nothing to do with anything but disability, being attacked by our political establishment. People whose children are disabled.  People who live in rented houses after a property boom intersected with inequality to mushroom the housing benefit bill. Even older people, being trolled while they lose those homes and the social care which is meaningless to Westminster.

It doesn’t matter how much evidence is thrown at these accusations, it doesn’t matter how wild they get. It doesn’t matter that this discussion appears to be more important than the economic cliff we are flying towards. It doesn’t matter that the pool of people being trolled is now so wide, that it includes workers who are being attacked for doing the job the government employed them to do, mothers. Hate crime is on the increase. With full parliamentary approval and little press challenge it is the norm.

The ONLY role for the people at the heart of this in mainstream debate is defending themselves from it, or being grateful when the left perpetuate it by taking part in the discussion about which people are disposable.

The point I was making was that political debate on so many issues now was trolling, that we perhaps have to stop having the debate on those terms.  Instead of special interest group against special interest group vying for the attention of a left who perpetuate the problem by offering defences rendered useless by their lack of understanding.  Because this debate has had since the late 70s to move on. Ask why our media have not done this.

We are told equality is a vague thing. We are sold equality in pictures of various ‘identities’ competing, and noone brings our attention to certain facts. The welfare state masks clear measurable economic inequality. Inequality is measurable. And the inequality that the welfare state masked is being felt across many groups, who have all suffered the same thing. Inequality has been exploited, and made worse because those suffering it are structurally invisible to political debate.

That inequality a problem we have to get to grips with, if we want any kind of credible economic alternative.  It cannot not be adequately explored, if we view disability in isolation and in competition with other aspects of who we are. Even if  disability is at the root of the poverty faced.

We could look at Leveson, and ask whether what is being revealed there has anything to do with why our political discourse has been little more than trolling for three decades? The received wisdom that allowed this trolling crumbled this year.

My point was not that disability does not bring in

equality. I am an able bodied woman, and I have very limited experience of living in a world not set up for the way my body works. I have no experience of that.

My point was that disability was only ever one part of someone’s identity, and that inequality like identity, is made up of many intersecting things. That it may be more effective to address the root of the problem, and stop refuting increasingly ridiculous accusations about moral fecklessness. Especially as those accusations come from the one part of our society that is on trial for it’s complete lack of morality. That that might be more effective than have the symptoms of a problem competing with each other. And that when the reason people were targeted was their invisibility to political debate, it was up to those who had visibility to remember we were fighting because they don’t have the ability to.  That by definition those hardest hit would not have that ability.

Rather than complying with the structure of debate our media offers- which IS special interest group against special interest group, vying for the attention of the left. Providing stories sad enough to make the ‘right’ salivate and the left feel pious.  Maybe it was time to learn from the past year, and have the debate on different terms and start asking questions about the implications of what we have learned about the way our political establishment operate. Start demanding answers instead of defending against accusations.



  1. Chaminda says:

    On a separate note, I like this:

    “structurally invisible”

    Think this is partly why left (and I know you don’t want to retread this territory) gets so defensive. When you point out how the left discriminates / marginalises women, ethnic minorities etc, left-wingers all get their backs up and say ‘but I’m not sexist/racist, how dare you accuse me of that?’

    But the point is the structures of the Left exclude people outside the existing circles. Like ‘institutional racism’ in the police – coppers didn’t like being accused of racism, but the point being made was about the effect of the structures, not whether PC Plod was in the BNP. Likewise not much point left-wingers calling themselves feminists while they constantly scheduling meetings that ignore childcare needs. And not much point left-wingers saying they oppose ‘all cuts’ while doing nothing about adult care or welfare cuts because those affected aren’t able to force those issues onto their desk for them to act on, which is how the Left has been working.

    I don’t think any of that is yet understood by the Left at all.

    It’s about structure of movements and organisations, not the goodness of people’s hearts. No point being Martin Luther King if you’re Martin Luther King wearing a Ku Klux Klan mask at a cross-burning.

  2. Chaminda says:

    All the above is true. But Spartacus campaigners had pretty restricted options. Clearly they had more resources and clout than those with absolutely no resources or clout whatsoever – e.g. off the top of my head, children in care – but they had far fewer resources than would have been needed to represent and campaign for anyone but themselves. Just campaigning for themselves left some of them in hospital. What I mean is, resource and clout is relative – having a tiny bit isn’t the same as having enough.

    Different sections scrambling for attention and crumbs from the table is what happens when those who *do* have the required clout and resources – the ‘Left’, the unions, TUC, Labour, Fabians, IPPR etc etc – go permanently AWOL. They do have the resources to create a structure, a platform, that allows everyone affected to challenge inequality together on their own behalf rather than fighting for the attention and sympathy of leftist ‘advocates’, and to try and change the terms of the ‘debate’. Resources could be directed to those with none.

    But those with resources do not see this is a problem, or in Labour’s case sold out yonks ago, so this doesn’t happen. Even bloody IPPR is pretty flush with money, fuck knows what they do with it. So instead everyone with few resources is left to scrap for themselves, and those with none fall off the back of the lorry. This, it strikes me, is where we are now.


    £6,807 – total Spartacus fighting fund
    £127,436 – Dave Prentis’ annual remuneration

    And all those accusations of disablism were bollocks

  3. It’s an interesting point to ask who is being trolled. The obvious one is politicians trolling their opponents, and by provoking a reaction to the absurdities manage to avoid the true argument. But there is also politicians convincing their supporters through those lies. Is that also trolling? It is certainly bad, since they justify their actions through the lies, but then their policies don’t do what they said they would do. The problems are made worse, but with financial and power gains for the politicians.

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