Where we get to tick a box every five years while billionaires spray venom and foretell doom should too many of us tick The Wrong Box? (How many editorials and headlines did you get to write this past few weeks, confident they’d be read by millions?)
Where senior politicians of blue, orange and red stripe, looking a few years down the road to fat jobs and canny shares in the sectors they’d regulated and privatised, know not to rock the boat?
Where power shifts inexorably – TTIP and the fate of Greece exemplifying a far wider trend – from parliament to global corp?
Where, should all the above somehow fail and power for a tiny few be seriously threatened, a swathe of arcane mechanisms – not least the British monarch’s right to dissolve her government – await their rainy day moment?
Russell Brand’s advice – he’s already repenting, the silly twat, and that goes for me too for overrating him – that “the degeneration of Britain will [under Labour] be slowed down and the lives of the most vulnerable a little more bearable” was dismal. Better to light a single candle than curse the dark? Not always. Not if millions are saying it’s a bright sunny day on account of our democratic freedoms. I mean, if you think the lights are all off and wherever the master switch might be, it sure as hell isn’t in Westminster, you may as well bloody say so. It’s only right.
In the end I did vote on Thursday, for the most narrowly personal and selfish of reasons. (I hated the idea of my standing MP, Nick Clegg, getting in by one vote to form another coalition with the Tories.) Some say it’s a duty. I beg to differ. Yes, our ancestors struggled and sacrificed to get the vote. But even as they were doing so, more powerful interests were working hard to neuter that vote and minimise any redistribution of wealth and power. The latter have been on a long winning streak, accelerated under Thatcher and Blair, and parliament has never been less relevant to the struggle for social justice.
PS Reverand Giles Fraser – he of the gene/organism conflation – redeemed himself a little yesterday. In a somewhat confused but well intended Grauniad column he asked: why do the poor vote when, by voting, they merely give legitimacy to a system that connives with their oppression and alienation? Why indeed?
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Follow up, May 10 – within hours of the result, Blair, the only Labour leader to win in over forty years, and Mandelson were demanding Labour swing to the right. They have a point. To win office a UK party has to be acceptable to Rothermere, Murdoch, Barclay Brothers and a super rich whose interests they share. It’s that simple.
You don’t win acceptance from Rothermere, Murdoch and Barclay Brothers by promising to reverse the flow of wealth from poor to rich. You do it by promising to be tough on benefits, shrink the state and give the rich more tax breaks and get-richer opportunities. It’s called fiscal responsibility.
Socialism and parliamentary democracy are not compatible. In the long postwar boom it looked as though they just might be – or at any rate that most of us could have a decent life under ‘caring capitalism’. Many on the left thought full employment and welfare state here for good. In fact they were premised on two conditions: the boom itself and the Soviet Union. The latter made it desirable to offer good living standards in the west; the former made it easy.
Neither condition now holds. So tell me please, what future for the Labour Party in general, and Labour Left in particular? I’m not trying to be gloomy, honest. I just can’t bear denialism.