Alan Moore is a writer of some of the best comics of the last 35 years. Works such as Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Marvelman/Miracleman, Swamp Thing, Lost Girls and From Hell have managed to redefine comics for a couple of generations by now and probably will for some time to come. He’s also someone very active in helping his local community in Northampton which after nearly eight years of cuts and austerity has suffered like many parts of the UK.
This week he spoke at the Advice Forward Partnership conference entitled Austerity & Advice, How the advice sector can positively impact on poverty and wellbeing. With many working class and poorer communities especially being hit hard by successive government’s cuts and with the Tory government threatening to tear apart the last fragments of what was the welfare state things are going to get much worse. Moore’s speech makes some interesting points so here it is:
It’s a good speech that starts with a nice Jeremy Corbyn gag and a joke about the conference being located in Hull, but it’s a bit rambling in places (I can tell Moore’s picked up a few tricks from hanging around with Stewart Lee) though it comes together at the end to make an important point that a lack of information is also a contributor to poverty and he’s entirely right. In fact this was a major part of the debate during the Scottish independence referendum and one of the reasons why the old media in Scotland is dying, and new media like Bella Caledonia, Common Space or Wings Over Scotland are now the first place people look to find information rather than the BBC or the mainstream press. This led to the creation of The National, the first pro-indy mainstream daily newspaper (with a strong anti-austerity editorial line) that launched to massive sales in Scotland last November, so yes, you can change things if you really, really work hard at it.
An establishment controlling the release of information into the public effectively controls the way people react to their circumstances, so austerity has become something for many to not question because according to them, we need it. It doesn’t help to have Labour manage people’s expectations by also endorsing austerity but we need it to bring down the deficit right?
Wrong. As Moore says, if you give people access to information they find out the opposite of what they’re being told is often the case as many of us argued for years during the Indyref. Now the debate is on a UK level and people like are making these same arguments which were right last year, or in May, and are just as right now. Moore, or Jeremy Corbyn make the case, as does the writer Frank Cottrell-Boyce in this fantastic article in the Independent, that austerity is a busted flush. It’s ideological in the way that it isn’t just money, services and resources it removes, but information. The Tories aren’t closing libraries to ‘save money’ but reduce what information people have access to. Fortunately we’re in the internet age and restricting information is difficult, so create your own media is the lesson to be learned.
As for Moore I’d like to hear him become more vocal now the the anti-austerity movement is growing across the UK outside of Scotland, and with Jeremy Corbyn one way or another going to shake things up he could provide a crucial voice in the years ahead as the Tories get to enact their plans.