Declining Democracy 158

Total membership of political parties in the UK has declined, very steadily and inexorably, from about 3.3 million in 1968 to about 500,000 in 2010. That is even worse than it sounds because of course the population grew substantially in the same period. That is one of the fascinating facts in this report by Democratic Audit.

That is just one of a large number of PDFs that comprise the total report. It is well worth reading and it reinforces the argument, consistently made on this blog, that democracy has failed in this country.

There is one constituent of a genuine democracy that the report does not seek to measure, but which I think could usefully be quantified by political scientists. That is the degree of real choice being offered by the political parties. I am sure that this has very substantially declined as well. There is no real choice on offer nowadays between the various neo-con parties. The differences on the timing and depth of cuts in public services, on continued privatisation of health services, on Trident nuclear weapons, on Afghanistan, on the money men who control the politicians, are miniscule. Only in Scotland do voters have a genuine choice of a different direction, and they take it.

This is a direct consequence of the other trends the Democratic Audit does measure. They show that the parties are more than ever, and constantly more, not avenues for popular participation but the domain of a political class and controlled by a wealthy “elite”. It is no wonder that they all have the same programme of promoting the interests of that elite.

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158 thoughts on “Declining Democracy

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  • Clark

    Passerby, I’m sorry to say that your idea of mass migration into space is a fantasy. One shuttle launch used to get seven people to low Earth orbit, just 250 miles up, not remotely clear of Earth’s gravity well, and each launch required over 2000 tonnes of fuel.
    I’m in favour of space colonisation (eventually), but those colonies will have to breed after their original members have already left Earth. Space flight is no solution to rising population. We’re going to have to sort out our energy and population problems down here. If you think it’s bad on the planet’s surface, just consider the problem on a spaceship making a 1000 year crossing to the next nearest star!

  • Mary

    On the same website,there is this piece about the failing economic situation in Germany. I thought that Germany was supposed to be keeping the whole house of cards intact.
    Global economic slow down hits Germany
    By Elizabeth Zimmermann
    12 July 2012
    The global capitalist crisis is increasingly affecting the German economy. In recent months, there has been a wave of company bankruptcies, plant closures and job losses in both the industrial and the services sectors. International institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as well as German economic institutes are warning of economic slowdown and rising unemployment.
    The number of bankruptcies and workers affected by redundancy has increased sharply since the beginning of the year. According to the Creditreform credit agency, the financial losses accrued due to insolvencies between January and June of this year amount to 16.2 billion euros — an increase of 55 percent over the same period last year. Over 150,000 workers have either lost their jobs or face the threat of redundancy due to such insolvencies. This represents an increase of 40,000 compared to the figure for the first half of 2011.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Ah, Mister Killick, now there’s the rub! Perhaps we could apply to become an exhibit at the Tate Modern, entitled, ‘Smudge on the Wall’?

    Or perhaps what we really need is a ship that will take us out of the installational performance of neoliberalism.

  • Clark

    Captain, performance art, that’s it! The Ferengi have rigged the holodeck to the main bridge viewscreens, and the ship only appears to be under our control. Independent sensors indicate that our true course is… maximum acceleration towards the heart of the Sun!

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