The Election – What’s The Point? 164


Now that politics have focused down on the election, I find myself thoroughly demotivated.

There is a substantial percentage of the population who wish to see a very early withdrawal from the occupation of Afghanistan, who want genuinely firm measures against the casino banking economy, who are very sceptical about the direction the European Union has gone, and who do not want to waste many scores of billions of dollars on a nuclear submarine system which can wipe out half the world’s population instantaneously and the rest shortly thereafter.

Yet the great “leader’s debate” will be between three people who all follow the same pro-bank bailout, pro-Afghan war, pro-EU and pro-Trident consensus. The political differences between them are insignificant – they are engaged in a Mr Smarm contest. They are not even good at that – Brown is an aggressive churl, Cameron is comfortable only working alongside his team of fellow toffs, Nick Clegg seeks to avoid offending the establishment consensus at all costs.

Only in Wales and Scotland do any significant number of people have a hope of electing anybody who stands outside the cosy Westmnister consensus on key issues.

To work, democracy must present the electorate with real choices.

Our democracy does not work.


164 thoughts on “The Election – What’s The Point?

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  • Tony

    I am 100% with you. I do believe that the Liberals have demonstrated that they were not convinced by the need for the Iraq War, and they seem the least enthusiastic about Afghanistan. However the overall situation remains as you define it.

    Democracy, justice and reason all indicate that British government policies about our funding of banks and support of Middle East wars are both profoundly and fundamentally both way off-course and unpopular. Yet Brown will do nothing about any of them, nor will Cameron. The Liberals might, given half a chance, but that half a chance will be denied.

    We need some elections to decide who sets policies like the Afghanistan War and giving casino bankers our cash. Neither Brown, Cameron nor Clegg make these decisions nor ever will. They simply put such externally imposed policies into practice and their next job is to make sure we keep quiet, and in return they get rich and feel important.

  • Richard Robinson

    “who do not want to waste many scores of billions of dollars on a nuclear submarine system”

    I signed a petition against Trident a few months ago. Last week I received a reply from my local MP (Ben Wallace, C).

    He says we mustn’t get rid of it because it “guarantees our boarders”. Freudian slip, or what ?

  • Control

    The military industrial complex and in particular the absurdity of the trident system is of particular concern to me.

    I have never seen anything more than a terribly simplistic, infantile argument put forwarded for the merits of the trident system. I just wish more people were outraged at the waste of money spent on such a so-called ‘deterrent’ but I guess money talks.

    Nice to see even some in the establishment can admit an obvious truth : that it is an absurdity.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/defence/4268661/Trident-nuclear-deterrent-completely-useless-say-retired-military-officers.html

  • tonyblare

    off the point a little….but Craig tell me as you are in the know, noone ever ask how the guns and bombs end up in the hands of talibans and insurgents in iraq…how do they go from manufacturing and then into the wrong peoples hands…

  • alan campbell

    Sounds like sour grapes to me. “The public have spoken – the bastards”.

  • Ruth

    I totally agree. In fact if you vote you support a system that upholds Establishment/unaccountable government rule.

  • Christian A. Wittke

    I agree.

    Under normal circumstances facing the crunch-all-over situation of today’s global ecological and economical games one would have a hard time to find any voluntary candidate who would be willing to take over from here and bear the responsibility for any kind of turn-around-plans.

    Not so in our modern democracy that successfully lowered the standards to where the lowest common denominator is just having a political job.

    The leaders’ debate on how to not lead is one symptom; another one is the amoeba like change whichever way the wind blows or the pound comes from.

  • MJ

    There may be some point in voting in this election on the grounds of domestic policy. There are probably discernible differences between the parties on where the inevitable tax rises and spending cuts will fall.

    Much as I despise New Labour I have a horrible feeling they may handle this marginally more eqitably than the Tories.

  • anno

    Alan Campbell

    The public may not trust politicians about expenses, but they do trust them about policy and they do trust the electoral system. The system is built on that trust.

    If the politicians continue to exasperate the people about policy and spend our money supporting corruption in elections abroad viz. Carzai, then the trust will be blown. The same sense of outrage as the expenses issue, will follow. It’s not unthinkable, except to politicians, that the public’s mood could change, allowing candidates like Craig to stand on a level playing field, one day.

  • MJ

    On Thursday the Greek government issued a 10-year bond to raise €5 billion. It has banned banks and hedge funds from subscribing to the sale and has also dumped Goldman Sachs and other US investment banks as transaction managers.

    This is very good news. It shows that the Greeks know exactly what’s going on and have the political will and power to do something about it. There may be some hope yet in European political democratic systems, rickety as they may be.

  • Larrys underpants

    One other similarity…

    xFI are Cerebus’ biggest lobby group. Yip, Israyhell has a powerful say in UK foreign policy (and the passport agency too so it transpires). Mirroring quite well with the United Snakes.

  • john

    Craig, I agree completely and have noticed the political descent into service to international corporations, since the time of Ogress Thatcher. Political consensus too has given way to a leadership autocracy–much the basis for the easy slip into current business wars of Iraq and Afghanistan.

    People just have no say in matters, which affect their livelihoods–both in welfare and taxes.

    Surely, a man such as yourself, could start a political TV programme to represent the real views of these people–something to compete with the vetted and mediocre Dimbleby knitting circle?

    We need a programme which, demands accountability from those who elect to serve the people–and they should be compelled to appear before the Public.

    I am convinced that, the ratings would be astronomical–and I’m sure that willing investors could be found to sponsor such a needed programme.

    How about it?

    At least tell us whether the British Establishment permits or not.

  • Jon

    I am thoroughly looking forward to the day when A. Campbell makes a position contribution to the discussion, rather than just sniping at the sidelines. Not a spin-doctor, is he? 😐

    @Ruth: I would tend to shy away from never voting on principle, as much as I see your point. I trust you will go and spoil a paper though? – as you will otherwise be regarded by the powers that be as “couldn’t be bothered to vote”.

    I don’t agree with it, but recently I was amused to see a sticker on a lamppost that READ:

    DON’T VOTE: IT ONLY ENCOURAGES THEM.

  • Roderick Russell

    Craig says – “Our democracy does not work.” Prominent main stream Canadian journalist Andrew Coyne (Editor of Maclean’s) says much the same thing, reporting that “Canadian Democracy is broken” … “if we were writing about a third world country with a system like ours, we would be careful to refer to the “largely ceremonial parliament” and “sham” elections”

    Indeed nothing is more ludicrous than to find that a quarter of a century after the end of the cold war the MI5 / 6 intelligence services in the UK, and CSIS in Canada are bigger and more intrusive than ever. What ever happened to the end of cold war dividend that citizens expected? Could it be that the parliamentary system of government, common to both Britain and Canada, that was designed in a 19th and 18th century era of very small government, simply doesn’t work in the 21st century? Do we need constitutional change? It is certain that at present “Our democracy does not work”.

    I understand Jon’s viewpoint completely, but I still think it is still best to vote, but vote the person and not the party.

  • Anonymous

    The game is rigged. The table is tilted.

    The mainstream media are perpetrators of a great fraud.

    As J.C. said:

    “Woe to ye, hypocrites. Ye who strain at gnats and swallow camels.”

  • CTRussel

    Well if you don’t intend running again in Norwich I guess I’ll just not bother, as usual.

  • Larry from St. Louis

    “On Thursday the Greek government issued a 10-year bond to raise €5 billion. It has banned banks and hedge funds from subscribing to the sale and has also dumped Goldman Sachs and other US investment banks as transaction managers.

    This is very good news. It shows that the Greeks know exactly what’s going on and have the political will and power to do something about it.”

    You do understand that Greek politicians are really to blame for that mess, don’t you?

  • Tom King

    Craig, it does you no credit to lump the Lib Dems in with the Con-Lab duopoly. I agree that Clegg is too risk-averse and smarmy, but in terms of policy they do offer a genuine different choice to the British people – a proper crackdown on unscrupulous financiers, a fairer, less regressive tax system, the non-renewal of Trident, and most importantly an electoral system that will encourage, not suppress, the kind of real choice that we all want.

  • jives

    As Will Self dryly noted on Question time the other night,in respect of the differences between the main parties>

    “There’s not an anorexic cigarette paper between them…”

    Very true.

    Chomsky/Herman’s The Manufacturing Of Consent couldn’t be more relevant to these narrow thin times.

  • Richard Robinson

    Re-edit the infamous pre-Thatcher poster. “Parliament Isn’t Working”.

  • JimmyGiro

    Should cowards be allowed to vote?

    The main trouble with our democracy is that it is by secret ballot; this instantly removes accountability by the voter, and they become ‘free’ to vote for obscenities like New Labour. Without fear of culpability, the morality of a democracy will degrade.

    A secret ballot aids and abets those who would otherwise fear their own choice. Whilst the honest are left to share the anonymity of cowards.

    It is cowards who vote for draconian laws, to have the full violence of law committed against others on their behalf, in secret, and unabashed. It is cowards who are appealed to, when the tyrants warn of the atrocities of the ‘other’ tyrants, to justify their wars of aggression.

    Therefore, save democracy from the legion of cowards, who would prostrate freedom, from the safety of the shadows. Shame the cowards by making the vote public, and accountable; no more secret voting would allow those who believe in themselves to prove their moral stance via their registered vote. And those that voted for an atrocious policy, should then be distinct from those who did not, and redress, if it is required, should come from them. Let those who vote for war, pay for war; let those who vote for lesbian and gay outreach quangos, pay for such; and those who vote for public funding of the BBC, be named and shamed.

    Let us end the secret ballot, and completely free ourselves from the guilt of our failed democracy; for only would a cowardly democracy as ours, vote for its own subjugation!

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq

    Since 1929 we’ve had one hung parliament. In 1974 Labour won 301 seats the Conservatives 297 seats. The Liberals under Jeremy Thorpe gained a considerable share of the popular vote.

    The votes for both the Conservatives and Labour slumped while the Liberals, Scottish National party, Plaid Cymru and even Independents did well (winning Lincoln and Blyth). The combined Tory and Labour share of the vote fell from 89.4% in 1970 to 75% in 1974; in votes at least, the two-party system suffered a blow from which it has not recovered.

    Despite this, the smaller parties received few seats, with only 14 Liberals elected on 19.3% of the vote. Proportional representation was much discussed after the elections of 1974.

    The mechanisms of partisan dealignment have matured with better education and more importantly an increased cynicism that has become an attitude amongst electors that ‘they are all as bad as each other. This complete loss of confidence can now be used to our advantage. A ‘hung’ parliament cannot last for long and would certainly force politicians to rethink strategy else risk a collapse in civic culture.

  • KingofWelshNoir

    Everybody knows that the dice are loaded

    Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed

    Everybody knows that the war is over

    Everybody knows the good guys lost

    Everybody knows the fight was fixed

    The poor stay poor, the rich get rich

    That’s how it goes

    Everybody knows

    Everybody knows that the boat is leaking

    Everybody knows that the captain lied

    Everybody got this broken feeling

    Like their father or their dog just died.

    Etc.

    Leonard Cohen & Sharon Robinson 1988

  • mike cobley

    On this issue I have to say this; we must – MUST – vote. Every vote that goes uncast permits a narrower section of the electorate to define the political mode post GElection. Yes, I will be voting LibDem, although not out of complete confidence in the program they’ve announced thus far. But at least with the LDs there is a chance that they will do the right thing in government, and a chance that they will listen to the country on issues of grave import. With Nu Labour and the Tories there is ZERO chance on either of those possibilities.

    Add to that my own conviction that every time someone on voxpop says ‘they’re all the same’ or ‘dont vote you’ll only encourage them’ or some other deadening, disconnecting, isolating culture-myth pap, the rich and the powerful sit back, laugh quietly and pour another brandy which with to toast the decay of democracy.

    Democracy and the open society is something which we amongst the people force upon the governing structures, not something which is handed down from high.

  • john

    “On this issue I have to say this; we must – MUST – vote. Every vote that goes uncast permits a narrower section of the electorate to define the political mode post GElection”.

    Unconvincing. Not exactly reinforced by your conviction that, voxpop represents the nihilism of “democracy”. You need to look up what constitutes democracy, before you condemn those, who see voting under the English system, as a futile Pavlovian ritual.

    “Democracy and the open society is something which we amongst the people force upon the governing structures, not something which is handed down from high”.

    This heroic outburst is not borne out by any near-recent event, that I can remember. Please inform.

    Many have been calling for reform of the flawed voting system of FPTP for over thirty years, in order to have better use of the voting. enfranchisement.

    As it stands, those “rich and powerful”, to whom you allude, sit back with their brandies and toast the continuance of the present “democracy” and the resilience (phlegm) of the modern peasantry.

  • ingo

    anno wrote:

    The public may not trust politicians about expenses, but they do trust them about policy and they do trust the electoral system. The system is built on that trust.

    Anno, the system is and always has been rotten, how else was it possible to keep some 30% of all safe seats in the same hands for 50 years?

    As for policy, if they really trusted noLabour policies, how come less than 22% of the electorate voted for them the second time round?

    Presot talks about integrating transport modesa, 12 years on they managed to do nothing,except waste millions on tube companies that go bust.

    I do not agree that we trust their policy decisions, because they always change as soon as the lection is over.

    I cannot agree that the Lib Dems, although up there on the rostrum with the two main perpetrators, are as fixed on war than those who sold their souls.

    I suppoirt Johns comment;

    Surely, a man such as yourself, could start a political TV programme to represent the real views of these people–something to compete with the vetted and mediocre Dimbleby knitting circle?

    That time has come, ideally we need a programme that lets the audience decide, lets call it ‘you decide’

    It will need a ring master and a set of audience questions. Those politicians invited, who do not answer the questions, divert or are oputright liars can be dismissed at the push of a button. next please, with a new question.

    The format could be changed if so needed.

    politicians are invited to speak the truth, if the public decides they have done so, after the probving questioning by the ringmaster (Craig) they keep the chair, those who make it through the programme without being dismissed, will earn applause and get the programmes badge for having answered truthfully and honest.

    Another format could be to have a panel asking the same questions, with liars and those trying to divert being dismissed, the one/two who survive the questioning win the debate.

    The audience needs to have some basic knowledge of events and issues I feel, but it is up to the researchers/ frontmen and the ringmaster to clarify fact from fiction. The last word is had by the audience, they are in charge of dismissal.

    Those dismissed will be replaced with the next politician. There is no need to have just british politicians, people like Geert Wilders can also apply to be judged by the people, if Ms. merkel has time to come, so be it, one would not need a nationalistic frame to such a programme, it could be European.

    There I spilled the beans, now lets do it.

    I had this idea yonks ago, for the same reasoning that John mentioned, the clasping tight hold over public concern for politics by the Dimblepugs political roadshow.

  • Craig

    Tom King

    I don’t think the Liberals have come out against renewing Trident. And if you want to point me twoars a radical LibDem policy on the banks, I’ll look at it.

  • Richard Robinson

    On the other hand, JimmyG, why would the cowards you speak of not vote for whoever threatens them most, if those people knew how they’d voted ? That’s not a competition I’d like to see.

  • peacewisher

    Surely there was also a hung parliament… from November 1964 until early 1966.

  • Phil

    Unlike Saddam’s imaginary Weapons of Mass Destruction, which were a real threat, ours are real and hence the threat is imaginary.

    Or something.

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