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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  • Vronsky

    Nobody’s mentioned the American trick of placing contentious issues on the ballot sheet as well as candidates’ names, so that every election is also a multi-issue plebiscite. You could vote for any of the main parties, but separately indicate opposition to the Iraq war, or gay marriages, or whatever.

  • Jon

    The Lib Dem’s position on Trident is: “Liberal Democrats do not believe that the UK can afford the billions of pounds the Government wants to spend on a like-for-like replacement of the Trident nuclear weapons system. Full-scale Trident is a cold war system that we no longer need nor can afford. We believe that less expensive alternatives should be considered.”

    So, not against nuclear weapons then. And not wholeheartedly for, either!

    But this is better, from the same manifesto: “But Britain’s reputation has been damaged by dodgy arms deals with dictators, allegations of involvement in torture, and of course the disastrous and illegal invasion of Iraq.”

    Not sure their opposition has been always as bold as that, but at least they are not sitting on the fence now.

    (See link.)

  • technicolour

    Thanks, Jon. And actually, Clegg is not sounding too lily-livered either; on Chilcott for example:

    “If Tony Blair gets through on the nod due to the withholding of key documents, the public will rightly dismiss this inquiry as a whitewash….The Government must understand that the truth about this illegal war must and will emerge eventually, and that the time to come clean is now.”

    So I wonder, is this an absolute case of perception over reality? Is this about the subtle way the Lib Dems are being reported, rather than about what they are actually saying?

    I know the Lib Dems can be absolute tossers on the ground (just like many party adherents, I suspect). But it would be ironic, you know.

  • technicolour

    Re party adherents, sorry. Not only was it unfair, I am of course, not such a perfect person myself.

  • writerman

    Craig,

    You’re right of course. The substantive differences between the major parties are minimal, so why bother to vote, what’s the point?

    The point is, I suppose, that New Labour, is marginally less conservative and reactionary than the Conservative Party is, but is that enough? I don’t know. I don’t vote in UK elections, as I’m in self-imposed exile, which makes me feel guilty. Though I’m not that far away.

    In reality, apart from the Welsh and Scottish nationalists, the UK is dominated by three “conservative” parties. This is remarkably similar to the United States, where two business parties, or factions, have swapped places for over two hundred years, virtually a total monopoly of power, century after century.

    Britain is increasingly coming to resemeble the United States, especially now when labour has been weeded-out of Labour, and the working-class marginalised politically, as in the United States.

    I’ve often wondered if the greatest achievement of the Russian Revolution, was the growth of the Social Democractic movement in Europe, and the creation of the Welfare State; both functioning as reactions to the perceived threat from the left.

    Anyway, I’m less concerned about this tired, old, “left” “right” split. In the coming new fuedalist system I believe the central question will relate to “up” and “down”.

  • writerman

    I think we are in a period of transition politically and socially. We are on a historic tragectory which we have, as individuals, very little influence over.

    I believe, though this sounds bizarre, that we’re in a “pre-revoltionary” phase; where the old order is breaking down, losing touch with reality, with our elite living in a comfortable and protected, virtual Versailles; whilst most others are increasingly forced to live in the harsh world outside.

    In truth, the modern, global, aristocracy, no longer need the working, or even that great bulwark, the middle class, any longer; they can find new and far cheaper workers and managers in the third world, and the purchasing power and consumption will be moving that way too, like the lifestyle that goes with it.

    And this great change, the creation of a disposable and redundant “peasantry” in the west, and all that this implies, is simply not understood by the poor sods who are being shafted before our very eyes.

    Wealth us being transfered on an absolutely collosal, historic, scale, from the great majority, upwards to the ruling elite. It’s quite extraordinary how blatent this process is, and how grotesquely unjust.

    What’s needed is some form of revolution, not yet another election.

  • technicolour

    The original question was: ‘The Election, What’s the Point?”.

    For me the point is probably not to have a revolution. Nobody ever thinks about old people in Luton when they talk approvingly about revolution. Nobody ever thinks that the vulnerable old folk scratching a cold existence in their too large houses (or ‘stately homes’ ooh er) will be the ones to get the brunt of the mob, either. While the body-guarded gangsters on their gated estates will be peachy.

    March on the House of Commons by all means – we all did – and stay there. But if that’s a revolution at all, it’s a peaceful one, and very few people append that adjective.

    PS Interesting (?) point: in German, the word ‘revolution’ apparently has a different connotation, one of gradual evolution, in fact.

  • technicolour

    On the other hand, Venezuela…But the UK is not warm with an abundance of exotic food and a funky music culture. Where did all our greenhouses go?

  • CanSpeccy

    I asked, in a spirit of honest inquiry, why it is that though the British National Party offers policies that most people support, hardly anyone will admit to supporting the BNP.

    In response, technicolour offers a genuine hypothesis, saying:

    “Poor BNP. It must be desperate to so desperately want to sound appealing, and normal; but the skeletons are rattling round like castanets. I’ve always wondered, doesn’t the whole Nazi uniform, Sieg Heil thing bother you? They weren’t the good guys, you know. And they lost.”

    Ignoring the suggestion that I am a BNP member or apologist, which I am not, and the suggestion that the BNP march around in Nazi uniforms giving the Hitler salute, which they don’t, Technicolour offers an answer that may be close to the truth.

    Some leading members of the BNP have past affiliations with avowedly fascist organizations. This undoubtedly taints the Party. However, it does not seem to be a complete answer. People change their minds, political parties change direction. Many of the Labour Party’s old guard are former Commies. Jack Straw claims to have been trained as a Stalinist, and as a student was identified by MI6 as a “Communist sympathizer”. And it was not so very long ago that the Labour Party abandoned its totalitarian commitment to nationalization of the means of production, distribution and exchange (Clause 4). But no one seriously considers today’s Labour Party to be Stalinist, and it is entirely possible for an MP to refrain from applauding the words of Comrade Gordon Brown without risk of immediate liquidation.

    Thus, if the BNP’s “skeletons are rattling round like castanets,” that is surely because people like Technicolour keep rattling them in the hope of negating BNP policies, not because those skeletons provide a realistic indication about the present day BNP, which for years has avowed a commitment to democracy.

    Vronsky mentions the “American trick of placing contentious issues on the ballot sheet as well as candidates’ names, so that every election is also a multi-issue plebiscite. You could vote for any of the main parties, but separately indicate opposition to the Iraq war, or gay marriages, or whatever.”

    The point is of interest in the context of a discussion of the BNP, since the American “ballot initiatives” are, in effect little different from the BNP proposed citizen-initiated referendums.

    In explanation of the widespread hostility to the BNP, despite its populist platform, Richard Robinson asks:

    “How about the way the courts had to explain to them that it isn’t legal for a political party to have a constution [sic] restricting membership to a selected racial grouping?”

    But, in fact, the court does not explain, it merely decides on the application of the law. The validity of a law, morally or politically, is an entirely different matter. For example, if courts deem that the abduction and rendering of terrorist suspects for interrogation through torture is legal, that does not make Craig’s campaign against torture morally redundant.

    Further, Richard Robinson seems to imply that the BNP adheres to the “racial theory” of the 30’s or of South Africa’s defunct apartheid regime, but this seems implausible to me. First, how much “theory” of any kind does the average BNP supporter entertain! And, in any case, if you look at what the party actually says, then you would have to conclude that if they have a “racial theory” it is the theory of Winston Churchill, although evidently with some moderation, since Churchill allegedly considered the Australians an inferior race, whereas the BNP recently sought to recruit a well known Australian politician to the Party.

    In fact, the idea that all racism is bad, is a silly and dangerous idea. It amounts to saying that loyalty to family is bad, patriotism is evil, and that only global government is good, to which I will say only that if you think Hitler’s gas chambers were bad, or Stalin’s and Mao’s genocidal policies were worse, try to imagine what a totally undemocratic world government will look like once it is firmly in control of all the means of coercion.

  • Richard Robinson

    Very well. The courts didn’t ‘explain’ anything, they merely ruled that they couldn’t legally do it.

    You can please yourself (or, could, if you had a vote in this country. I think you said you don’t even live here, so I don’t understand why you’d be arguing any of this, but never mind, I expect you have reasons), but I’m not voting for a party that needs external disuasion from such a policy. It just plain doesn’t reflect my values.

  • MJ

    “the idea that all racism is bad, is a silly and dangerous idea”

    And there was me thinking it was racism that was silly and dangerous. Could you please make the case for racism and explain why opposing it is silly and dangerous? I must have missed something.

  • CanSpeccy

    “Could you please make the case for racism and explain why opposing it is silly and dangerous?”

    Any policy that treats race as a significant fact can be considered racist. For example, human groups differ in susceptibility to various diseases and should therefore be treated differently (i.e., by programs for public health): good racism, surely.

    The difficulty in discussing the relevance of race to political and social issues is that the Lib-Left have for so long relied on hate speech, that is to say authorized hate speech, against all their enemies that they are often unable to distinguish between reality and the labels they apply to reality. Thus they attack opponents of multi-culturalism as racists or xenophones and put them in jail if they can, notwithstanding that there are perfectly sensible reasons for not wishing to combine within a single political jurisdiction colonizing radical Muslims and a people with a more than one-thousand-year-old Christian tradition.

    In India, at the time of independence, the Muslim and Hindu community voluntarily separated from one another, murdering a million or so people in the process. But in Liberal -Leftist England, bringing in literally millions of Muslims of questionable loyalty to the British way of life and doing so in opposition to the will of the majority of the population, is all supposed to end happily. Well, good luck.

    I could go on, but it would be best if you just tried to use your imagination, rather that exercising sub-cerebral political reflexes.

  • Vronsky

    I once did one of those online questionnaires which purports to identify the political party you should support. The software suggested I should be BNP. I think this was because I weighted so heavily my objection to EU membership, and apparently only the BNP agrees with me on that. Except that I’m of what I would call the secular left – the left which would actually like to *do* something, not the onanistically self-absorbed left of Life of Brian (link below).

    Canspeccy, don’t be too disappointed if you can’t make your fascism foxy enough for us to want to shag it – attraction is a hard thing to understand. And if you’re really a committed and believing fascist, what’s wrong with voting Labour? And ‘questionable loyalty to the British way of life’? For fuck’s sake, my disloyalty is passionate, I wear it on my sleeve. Does that make me a foreigner?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gb_qHP7VaZE

  • MJ

    I asked you to make the case for racism. You made a rather feeble point about susceptibility to disease. But no-one calls providing appropriate health-care racist.

    The rest was a rather confused conflation of race with religious belief. I can’t speak for what happened in India but over here Muslims have on the whole assimilated in British society very successfully. There are one or two nutters but who cares? It’s the corrosive influence of the BNP and their ilk who try to create conflict and division where in reality there is none and most of us are too sensible to bother with that garbage.

  • CanSpeccy

    After pointing out how the Lib-Left resorts so freely to hate speech I am immediately called “mad” and “fascist.” Seems to confirm my point.

    As to Vronsky’s comment “if you’re really a committed and believing fascist, what’s wrong with voting Labour?” good point, but I’m not a fascist.

    As for Vronsky’s hatred of the British way of life, I can sympathize with that. Living under a warmongering lying government for 13 years and doing nothing about it must leave one disillusioned and self-hating.

  • Jon

    @CanSpeccy:

    > For example, human groups differ in susceptibility to various diseases

    > and should therefore be treated differently (i.e., by programs for public

    > health): good racism, surely.

    No, that’s not racism. Racism is not simply telling races apart; it has to be negative and it has to be discriminatory. So, if we are to use medical illustrations, rejecting a donated organ on the basis that the donor is of another race and therefore a bad match is a good thing. However rejecting a perfectly good organ on the basis that the donor is black is discriminatory and negative, and therefore racist.

    Racism is, as MJ confirms, silly and dangerous. Suggesting there is a good kind, and that opposition to such an assertion is simply reflexive liberalism, is plainly incorrect.

    In case it needs further stating, the BNP are racist because their membership policies are racist, and because their whole world view is (somewhat privately) tainted with racism of an extremely aggressive kind. Mock “nigger burnings” at BNP rallies? Yep, they’ve got them. How about proven links to white supremacist movements and the KKK? Check. Instances of supporters convicted of possession of explosives? Oh yes…

    I should be interested to hear how, if you think that the majority of the UK are opposed to immigration, how you would “deal with” immigrants who already have leave to remain. Are they incompatible with “our” way of life? Would you have them deported, or “encouraged to leave”?

    Do a search for “Hope Not Hate” or other anti-fascist UK groupings – the real BNP is truly scary, even if supporters are not big on “theory”.

  • writerman

    I am not advocating a violent revolution in Britain, with heads rolling and a scaffold in every marketplace.

    But I was thinking more along the lines of the mass revolts that took place in eastern europe twenty years ago that brought down Stalinism.

    To be honest I don’t see mass movements like this taking place any time soon. Unfortunately, given our culture, I believe a conservative, totalitarian, regime is far more likely an outcome, as the corporate state seeks to defend itself during a period characterised by a permanent crisis, rising unemployment and falling living standards.

    One can see the seeds of Facism already in the United States where the rightwing are becoming energised and the liberals demoralised, as their hopes of a peaceful transformation of society are dashed by Obama’s betrayal of those who voted for him.

  • glenn

    Why don’t people such as myself like the BNP, even though _some_ of their political views accord with my own, CanSpeccy wants to know.

    ok, I’ll bite. It’s mainly because I don’t want to associate with a bunch of racist half-wits who think the main problem – indeed, the only real problem – in society is that there are Jews, sorry, immigrants over here. Immigrants, of course, of a very select type – you can usually tell which immigrants are the undesirables by the colour of their skin.

    I’m also not terribly predisposed to jack-booted skinheads who like to get pissed up, throw abuse around, and snap the right arm salute which goose-stepping around, as demonstrated at a local BNP/EDL rally.

    The problem we have in the UK is a huge swing to the right in “new” labour. It does not strike me that a further lurch to the right with the BNP would help. The BNP offers some policies that a lot – perhaps most – people would support. But it also has core values which will repel anyone with a scrap of decency.

  • Jon

    @CanSpeccy – your suggestion that Britons “doing nothing about” their warmongering government should leave them “self-hating” is a cheap jibe and should be beneath you. If you come to a site known for its liberal/left readership, and make the case for racism (or fascism), then expect a robust defence. Responding with petty insults is not going to help with your case, and it was thin to start with.

  • Richard Robinson

    Incidentally, does the BNP have much of a presence in the other parts of Britain, or is it (as I have the impression) mainly an English thing ?

  • Richard Robinson

    “and it was thin to start with”

    It’s fun to see someone who lives in Canada trying to instruct UK voters in how to defend ourselves against “world government”, though.

  • Richard Robinson

    “If you come to a site known for its liberal/left readership”

    About as mindbogglingly inappropriate a blog as it’s possible to imagine for such an ‘argument’, in fact.

  • Richard Robinson

    “for such an ‘argument'”

    Carelessly put. I meant “to make such points”.

  • Ruth

    writerman said

    To be honest I don’t see mass movements like this taking place any time soon.

    From what I’ve seen there are a lot of people seething at the loss of civil liberties and the impotence of Parliament. I believe there’ll be massive cuts in public spending next year and once people become dispossessed and with little hope for the future, this will become translated into civil unrest, something that the government has been preparing for for a while.

  • CanSpeccy

    Jon,

    Thank you for addressing the issues that I sought to raise.

    I don’t dispute anything you say about the attitudes of BNP members because I am not a BBP member and may never have met one. However, in the context of my question (which was why do people who oppose the war in Afghanistan, who want Britain out of Europe, who want a more devolved and democratic system of government, etc. not support the party that offers those policies), it has to be noted that the BNP no longer discriminates among members on the basis of race, and is not therefore, as you define the term, a racist party. (Incidentally, do you consider the UK Black Police Association a racist organization that should be disbanded.)

    I agree, as in my exchange with Technicolour, that appearances matter greatly. But, I maintain, also, that people and parties do change and that one needs to consider parties and people as they exist today, not as they may have been in the past.

    The difficulty with debating whether racism can ever be acceptable is finding an acceptable definition of racism. Someone may say, England is a white country for white people ?” actually someone did say that (can anyone remember his name) and Ted Heath kicked him out of the Conservative party caucus ?” and they will be branded a racist. However, if someone says, Britain is a democratic country and must accede to the wish of the majority, which is for an end to further immigration, is that racist? And if it is, is it bad?

    If you say it is racist, I say that racism can be a just and a good thing. Governments of all democratic nation states are supposedly run by, for and of the people (i.e., the people of that country not of some other country or countries), therefore, why should the people of the nations of Europe share their resources with the third world? Remember, countries such as India and China are, in aggregate, vastly wealthier than Britain (they both have a manned space program, an extravagance that Britain could hardly contemplate).

    Further, what of a multi-racial country like Canada. Is opposition to immigration in Canada (most Canadians think the rate of immigration is too high, although our immigration rate is only about one third of Britain’s) racist? If so, which race is discriminating against which. In fact I would say that opposition to immigration, whether the Viking colonization of Britain a thousand years ago, or the third-world influx into Europe today, is largely motivated by economics.

    However, there is another factor. If you live in the city of Leicester, my father’s home town, you will, if you are of British ancestry, soon be in a minority among an immigrant population that may not, when it finds itself in a majority, much care about assimilation. Then you could have cultural reasons for opposing mass immigration, quite apart from racial or economic reasons. So the issue is complex and calling people racist and then saying racism is an unforgivable sin makes an intelligent debate impossible.

    You ask my view of legal immigrants, which is that whoever is a citizen has the full rights of citizenship. What I consider outrageous is the failure of governments, for example Canada’s government, to stand up effectively for the rights of Canadian citizens (mainly Muslims of ME origin) kidnapped and tortured by the US and its allies. In this respect, the British government seems to have done slight better than the Government of Canada.

    Writerman talks of the possibility of revolution incited by the revolt of the elites.

    http://www.amazon.com/Revolt-Elites-Betrayal-Democracy/dp/0393313719

    I think this is a real danger. As long as the Lib-Left go on deriding those who call for redress of the genuine grievances of the working poor ?” the outsourcing of jobs, the competition for jobs created by mass immigration, the high cost of housing due to mass immigration, lousy hospitals run by overpaid bureaucrats, poor schools, etc. ?” the possibility of revolutionary change will continue to exist.

    On the plus side, I don’t see Nick Griffin as a charismatic demagogue able to create a totalitarian system. He talks very much as one would expect a Cambridge-trained lawyer to talk: with careful logic aiming for a reasonable conclusion. In fact, I would say that in public, Griffin is the most intellectual of all the party leaders. You may say that Griffin is something else in private, but which major politician is not something else in private (consider the Nixon tapes, Churchill’s private conversation, etc.).

    Naturally, I think it would be best if the Conservative party or the Labor party were to offer decent policies instead of acting like marketing agents for the plutocratic interest and various foreign entities. But that will not happen. Those people are bought, and being good politicians (as Menchken defined the term) they will stay bought.

    It would be interesting to know why Glenn considers the BNP platform right wing. Referendums, devolution of power, an end to immigration to protect the economic interests of the working poor, an end to the war in Afghanistan, support of Israel’s right to defend itself. This sounds leftish to me, so I suspect that Glen is under the influence of essentially meaningless labels.

    Oh, I see Jon has another comment: that I am making a case for Fascism. In what way? Can you even define Fascism. I can, but I am not sure if that is true of too may people who use the term.

    Cheers.

  • Anonymous

    Craig put down some Tory bait,’ .. very sceptical about the direction the European Union has gone…’ but all this pit bull, racist, Muslim savaging has scared the posh racists of the Tory party away from commenting. The English countryside is full of daft people living peacefully in their vastly oversized residences, mostly on their own, who want to reverse William the Conqueror’s cheek in taking over nearly a thousand years ago.

    If the many strands of racism in this country all united , which is unlikely, machine guns would be set up at the entrance to the channel tunnel to prevent foreign wildlife, foxes and the like from straying through.

    People from this country have wandered through distant unexplored continents and received nothing but hospitality. Why is it that the British are so determinedly inhospitable to anything or body they don’t know?

    Europe is financial drain on this country, and the hourly rate for my job has been halved by the influx of their labour. So what, it’s for the greater safety of the Euro-zone. This is a burden the previous archbishop of Canterbury is prepared to bear. It’s Muslims, he said recently, whom we should be turning away.

    No prob, age hardens the brain. The UK’s violent past placed a burden on us, recognised in legislation by Her Majesty the Queen, to receive a contingent of people from our former bloody Empire. Who is canspeccy or BNP to disagree with her? Do they dare to disagree with constitutional law established by the Queen?

    They say corgis don’t have street cred.

    But the pit bull owners and Labrador brigade seem to think they own the place. If they win the election, I’m off with my little red passport to claim asylum in Iraq. At least you don’t have to pay taxes. The fantasy of anti- foreign, anti-EUROPE!!!!!!!! little Englandism is almost scarily insane.

  • anno

    Sorry, somehow the posting process cancelled my name. Larry from St US might be one of those US patriots who patrol the Mexican border for free. It must be so annoying for these folk that thoughts keeping whizzing through their borders online.

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