We’re governed by a anti-democratic elite that governs in the interest of big business and the super-rich
Last week Theresa May called a snap – i.e. sudden, triggered-when-she-knows-she’s-virtually-guaranteed-to-win-it – general election.
Melodramatic pundits will talk about it like it’s some grand exercise in democracy, but it won’t be. Britain isn’t a democracy and never has been.
The fact we’re even having an election under these circumstances is laughably undemocratic. Theresa May is an unelected Prime Minister. She just inherited the job from David Cameron when he resigned after losing the Brexit referendum.
She knew she would have to face a proper public vote eventually – so she’s rigged the process in her favour. She’s waited until she’s massively ahead in the polls, then sprung a last-minute election – having repeatedly said she wasn’t going to do so.
Settling into the most outrageously ridiculous period in modern political history, as this stupidity-blighted few weeks is surely now destined to be remembered, it’s quite difficult not to be overwhelmed by angry, pulsating disgust at almost everything.
Having cattle-prodded the most vulnerable, abused, and ill-informed bit of the population into authorising as seismic a political shift as we’ve seen in this country, it now turns out the Leave camp has given absolutely no thought to what would happen if they actually won – and if their wake-like victory press conference was anything to go by, it’s looking increasingly like they wish they hadn’t.
Around the UK, thousands of people opted for Out having got so used to the anti-democratic absurdity of First Past the Post that they didn’t expect it to count – with even lowlife ex-Sun editor Kelvin Mackenzie reporting symptoms of Brexit remorse. Encouraged and legitimised by poisonous campaign rhetoric, racist abuse has soared all around the country. And now, as was always inevitable, a Parliamentary Labour Party stuffed with time-servers, careerists and establishment lickspittles has launched a coup against Jeremy Corbyn.
Our adventures in sell-out electoral Machiavellianism continue now, with a look at the Green Party, and places where our rubbish Defensive Voting idea actually lets you vote for them. Unfortunately, there aren’t many.
The Green Party’s emergence as a genuinely left-of-centre force with increasing public exposure is about the only good thing to have happened on the political front in the last five years. They’ve embraced ideas we never thought we’d live to see talked about in a mainstream context. Now you can turn on the telly and see Natalie Bennett or Darren Johnson endorsing the Citizen’s Income scheme and the need to end economic growth. And they’ve grown at a mind-boggling rate. At the peak of the much-trumpeted ‘Green Surge’, the party gained 13,000 new members in one week.
And yet, despite all that, the Greens will win hardly anywhere on May 7th. That’s the wonder of our spectacularly dismal First Past the Post electoral system.
The least worst realistic outcome we can expect from May 7th is a minority Labour government, pulled leftwards by an anti-austerity voting bloc made up of the SNP, Plaid Cymru, and the Greens.
The ideal outcome, of course, would be a crushing landslide victory by the Happy People’s Socialist Party that annihilated the Tories, the Lib Dems and the feeble, supporter-forsaking Labour Party in one fell swoop, while enacting a programme that made the Greens’ look like it was drawn up by the Pincochet Fan Club. But that’s not going to happen.Continue reading “Defensive Voting: The Greens And The Slightly Nicer Flipside”→
Further banging on about Defensive Voting. Which, come to think of it, is probably just tactical voting with a specific political purpose in mind – namely stalling neoliberalism through the Westminster infrastructure long enough to nail together some kind of radical left-wing alternative outside of it (there was an excellent bit of analysis published by Counterfire this week which came to similar conclusions). And this time, we’re looking at it in relation to a conveniently local real-world example.
Wells in Somerset is one of the most marginal constituencies in the country. It also happens to be the next one over from ours.
Most constituencies are ‘safe’ – the people living in them reliably vote for the same party in election after election, and that party easily wins by a mile. Yeovil, for example, has been Lib Dem for over thirty years (well, technically, it was Liberal from 1983 to 1992, then Lib Dem ever since). At the last election, Lib Dem candidate David Laws got 31,000 votes, 13,000 more than the next placed candidate.
As such, safe seats don’t really matter. The ones that do matter are the marginal ones, the swing seats as they’re often known – constituencies like Wells that are much more likely to change hands. These are the places that will decide who’s in government this time next year.Continue reading “Defensive Voting: A West Country Case Study”→
It’s a fairly established position of this irrelevant internet blog to argue that the UK isn’t a democracy. It’s not a fascist dictatorship by any stretch of the imagination, and it’s probably one of the least worst countries to find yourself living in. But it’s not democratic at all in the proper, original sense of the word. It’s this analysis that underpins our whole outlook on British electoral politics – including our view of what principled, pragmatic left-wingers should do in next month’s general election (short version – acknowledge it’s all an anti-democratic sham, but vote anyway).
Wikipedia/the infantilisation of everything means you don’t even have to bother getting a book out to look up democracy and its origins anymore. A fraction of a second on Google will tell you that D-word stems from the Ancient Greek term demokratia, itself a combination of ‘demos’, Greek for people, and ‘kratia’, Greek for power or rule. Democracy is ‘people power’, or ‘rule by the people’.
Nowadays we tend to divide democracy into direct and representative democracy – the former being a situation in which the general public make the political decisions themselves, the latter being the one that exists in practically every self-hailed democracy in the world, where the public vote in representatives who make the decisions for them. But the Greeks wouldn’t have seen Type 2 as democracy at all.Continue reading “A Short History of British Non-Democracy”→
The biggest political event of the year, if not the decade, is obviously going to be the General Election in May. You’d struggle to describe the mangled, dystopian thing we’d be left with after another five years of the present government as ‘a society’.
The Bemolution’s political views aren’t especially well represented within the Westminster mainstream, what with pledges to essentially dismantle modern civilisation and start again tending to go down like a lead zeppelin in the key marginals. This makes elections morally challenging.
A lot of fuss was made in the media last year when Russell Brand supposedly endorsed not voting. Brand – someone we unashamedly like – clarified his position after a fusillade of criticism from across the political spectrum: he doesn’t vote, he said, because there’s nothing worth voting for.
This month: we wrote something outlining what for the moment we’re calling Modern Socialism, an attempt at a non-dogmatic, ecologically-sound twenty-first century redefinition of radical Left politics. It’s really what this blog was started for, and it only took us four years to finally get round to it. And that’s about it, because we spent most of February helping someone recover from major heart surgery, so here’s a list of fairly recent posts for you to peruse instead.
THE GIST: As the name suggests, Modern Socialism is an attempt to modernise socialism. It’s not about ‘modernisation’ in the toxic, principles-shedding, status quo-pandering New Labour sense of the word. It’s about revamping the radical left into something far more open, accessible, flexible and ecologically-focused.
The Marxes and Engelses of the world thought they’d created a ‘scientific’ socialism, one based on processes and principles they’d divined from studying economics, sociology and history – and that therefore was much better than the wishy-washing moralising of the socialisms that had come before. But a lot of their ‘scientific’ analysis was wrong. A lot of their predictions didn’t come to pass. Meanwhile, it’s always going to be wrong that millionaires exist in a world where people starve.
Rather than some grand, sweeping theory of everything, Modern Socialism needs to be more humble – a values system and a set of priorities used to approach the problems the species faces. A lot of these (appropriately) red lines should be the same ones the Left has always had – egalitarianism, libertarianism, public ownership of crucial services and industries, etc. But there are also areas the conventional Left has tended to neglect, and, unfortunately, they happen to be staggeringly important.
Unforgivably often, left-wingers have ignored immense human suffering in the global South, caused by entirely preventable poverty, starvation and disease. They’ve also been distinctly rubbish about embracing eco-politics on a planet where another hundred or so years of the status quo will probably leave the environment irreparably damaged – and our prospects of survival along with it.
To be properly viable in the twenty-first century, we need a socialism that’s both radically humanitarian and ecological – that takes humanitarian suffering as seriously as it takes anything, and that aims at making genuinely sustainable, egalitarian societies free from dependence on economic growth.Continue reading “Modern Socialism #1: The Craze Not Sweeping The Nation”→
And what better way to hail the New Year’s bounteous arrival than with the tale of another doomed-heroic charge against corporate unaccountability by small-town Somerset’s very own community Light Brigade, Forehead.
Another rain-lashed winter’s evening on the Somerset Levels, another town hall meeting about Tesco. For once, it wasn’t left to a rag-tag bunch of community activists to drag council apparatchiks and supermarket big-wigs into the same capacious room as a crowd of fiery locals. This time the gathering was council-organised, designed, apparently, to help the councillors who would eventually approve or deny Tesco’s superstore bid come to an educated decision. Continue reading “Forehead: God Cop, Bad Cop, Unwanted Shop”→