Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Decisions Decisions pt2

Tired Now
Originally uploaded by StefZ.

I'll warn you now. My fingertips tell me this is going to be one long Bad Mother of a post ...

Until recent times, specifically September 2001, I was not a very politically motivated soul. I grew up surrounded by self-employed immigrants who never bothered to vote. Their basic view was:

  • Vote for the Conservatives and companies take all your money
  • Vote for Labour and the government takes all your money
  • The Liberals are a joke

All politicians were basically the same. One lot was trying to push you down, one lot was trying to drag you down. So why encourage them by voting?

When I got a little older I saw the choice in slightly different terms

  • Vote for the Conservatives and use the money you save to put bars on your windows
  • Vote for Labour and they will spend your money in such a way that you won't have to put bars on your windows
  • The Liberals are a joke

The Labour choice seemed more ethical whilst offering a broadly similar end result.

Now that I am much older and a little wiser I have to admit that, yes, my father's generation did have a point. They are all the bloody same. Having said that, if any of my father's peers did ever bother to vote it was invariably for the Conservatives. So, clearly, politicians were not exactly the same in their eyes.

That's the funny thing about immigrants and the Conservative Party. The Tories expend an awful lot of rhetoric discussing the 'Immigrant Problem' yet, once they stop worrying about being kicked out of the country, a large proportion of immigrants actually represent a natural Tory constituency. Many work hard at their own businesses, most rely on a support network of family and friends rather than social services and a large number have little sympathy with 'The Poor' because, as immigrants, they often started with nothing at all themselves and still managed to make a living.

Yet, even though every migrant benefit scrounger is outnumbered by God knows how many inherently conservative, self-employed immigrants, the Conservative Party perversely seeks to gain electoral advantage through demonising them.

Smart strategic thinking from Tory Central Office there.

A few months ago my brother suggested to me that the economic prospects for the Britain over the next five years were so poor that the lameness of the Conservative opposition was actually deliberate. They took a look at the accounts for UK plc and said 'No thanks, we'll pass on this one'€™. If so, that would be quite sensible and forward thinking. There is a lot of grief in store.

But, no, I've been watching the Conservative election campaign and I actually believe that they really are playing to win. They are not playing very well though. Their campaign is wretched, simplistic, ignorant and crap; largely because they are wretched, simplistic, ignorant and crap. No strategy of subtle and masterful political genius is at work here.

And that is the problem. No matter how awful the sins of Tony Blair, and awful they are, many people could never bring themselves to support the Conservative Party. There wouldnt be enough soap in the World to get their hands clean after returning from the polling station. Labour will win again through the simple virtue of being less loathsome in many peoples eyes than the Conservatives.

This is entirely understandable. All the real bastards I have met in life are Tories. And, having worked in the City, I have met more than a few.

That is not to say every Tory is a bastard, far from it. It'™s a Venn Diagram thing. Some Conservatives voters have simply been duped and others support the Conservatives for exactly the same reason some people support the Labour Party. They detest the opposition.

Admittedly, I have met some bastards who actually support the Labour Party but theyre kidding no one. They should be voting Conservative. I can't help it if they're not being true to themselves.

Yes, the Conservatives. Where is the sense is constantly harping on about benefit cheats and asylum seekers when the Conservatives represent the kind of people who steal billions a year from all of us? In banking, in law, in business. How perverse is it for a shop-keeper who works seven days a week to support the politics of undeserved privilege and unearned wealth?

No, it doesn't make any sense at all.

Our political system makes even less sense now that the Labour Party bends over to Business as much as the Tories ever did, in some cases even more so. The voting equation my parents' generation knew has now been reduced to:

  • Vote for the Conservatives or Labour and companies take all your money. It really doesn't matter what you do, you muppet
  • The Liberals are a joke. We know this because the Tories and Labour tell us so.

Yes, Labour has been wonderful for big business and the wealthy. The rich are richer whilst the some of the poor are kept happy with a redistribution of money taken from the slightly less poor. Both groups are also opiated through access to unprecedented levels of personal debt that, in addition to securing a lifetime of servitude, also keeps the banks and retailers of mass-produced crap happy.

This is entirely reminiscent of the plantation days in the Deep South, where the poor Blacks and the slightly less poor Whites were set against each other, even though they shared common cause, whilst the Big Bosses sat on their verandas, drinking mint juleps and tracking their cotton futures. A little bit of divide and rule, a little bit of misdirection, a few sacks of millet and the occasional Christmas party and it is easy enough to keep people in line, particularly if you make sure their education is lousy.

Labour is on top at the moment. They have created the illusion of a strong economy, enough people think they'€™re doing well out of the government and everybody hates the Conservatives.

But there is that whole illegal war, erosion of civil liberties, lying thing isnt there? Scanning around the web, it seems clear to me that a large number of people, like me, consider that issue to be the most important in this election. We can't endorse what is going on by voting for Labour and we sure as hell aren't voting for a bunch of bastards like the Conservatives. So, who do we vote for?

Our problem is that we do not have a proportional voting system in this country. A vote for anyone but the winner in your constituency is a vote down the toilet. This is wrong. Once upon a time, I saw the merit in our winner takes all system but now that the two major political parties are each, in their own way, as repugnant as the other our voting system needs changing. We really do need smaller parties like the Liberal Democrats and the Greens to have more of a say and influence on how things are done. Given enough time, they too will undoubtedly become as corrupted by vested interests as Labour or the Conservatives but they would mix things up a little over the interim.

Me, I will be voting for the Liberals. To be honest it'€™s a 50:50 call with the Greens. They have very similar policies on the key issues. Issues on which Labour and Tories are largely in total agreement and offer us no real electoral choice. Only the Liberals and Greens are saying:

  • That War was wrong. Never again.
  • ID cards are wrong. Erosion of civil liberties is wrong.
  • The War on Terror has been overplayed and, reduce a whisper, possibly even bogus
  • Higher rates of tax for high earners instead of indirect taxation that punishes low earners.
  • Abolish tuition fees for higher education.
  • and so on ...

and I will have to live with Liberal support for the Euro, ugh nasty. The Greens are nearer the mark on that one. I am only choosing the Liberals because if they can pick up a third of the national vote yet receive only 10% of the MPs it will be an irrefutable demonstration of the fundamental crookedness of our current voting system.

It is quite a sad statement about the political landscape of this country that the Liberal / Green policy agendas can now be labelled 'left wing' by the media. It really is about time we stopped being fobbed off with redundant left wing right v. wing arguments. The real issues facing us are about decency and fairness and doing what we can to prevent us all becoming slaves of The Machine for as long as we can. These days, traditional political allegiances offer less and less guidance on key issues such a globalisation, the environment, the rights of the individual, or provision of decent healthcare and education. It really isn't about Left and Right, it's about Them and Us. The only thing that scares Them, that has ever really scared Them, is that enough of Us will realise this.

Anyway, f*ck Tony Blair, f*ck the Labour party and f*ck the Conservative party. F*ck all of them. It is almost worth becoming an orthodox Christian just so that you could believe in Hell and be comforted by the thought that they will burn there.

If you'€™ve read this far, and I'd be the first to admit this was a long read, I heartily recommend now perusing the fragrant Backingblair web site, if you haven'€™t done so already. They endorse extreme anti Blair tactical voting and also '€˜supporting'€™ Tony in as vocal a way a possible. Kind of like laughing even louder than Billy Connolly does at his own jokes or calling out hear! hear! after every sentence uttered by someone you disagree with vehemently. Personally, I think this is far too subtle for your average swing voter and could backfire horribly. However, the site does feature a few amusing shockwave flash animations, armed with considerably less oblique payloads. I particularly enjoy 'Debate' based as it is on Uncle Fukka by the Southpark Team. I enjoy it because it i€™s a pertinent satire of the current quality of political debate in this country and also because it features extensive use of the F Word and Charles Kennedy being rogered in a bent over position.

Back to shorter less political posts for a while now hopefully


Peter said...

Great posts.

Have you noticed Labour will only refer to 'the Tories' or 'Conservatives' whereas Howard talks of 'Blair'. I must have seen ten speeches like that today. The reasons why are obvious for both sides.

I think a very good few of those people you wanted dis-placed in Islington are Lib Dems, and while more agreeable than NuLabour and Tory, I don't think they are the answer.

Stef said...

Thanks ...

Yes, I've noticed that.

Interesting piece on C4 tonight that pointed out that out of 44m voters, 8m are in marginal seats and roughly 800,000 people will decide the fate of those seats. That's 800,000 out of 44 million. Less than 2% of voters will decide who gets in. So, when I wrote a post a few weeks ago moaning that 3% of the population get to decides what happens to the rest of us, I was being way too optimistic. Ain't democracy wonderful?

I hope that I didn't suggest that the Lib dems were free from tosspots. Far from it.

With a handful of noble exceptions ALL our politicians are corrupt or open to corruption. Those few that start off with good intentions are invariably 'turned', in the same way that people who join the police force as idealists rarely hold onto that idealism.

The Lib Dems are not an answer in themselves. God no. However, I stand by my position. On all the key issues their policies are the most decent and the fairest of the major parties. There really isn't a cigarette paper's thickness between the Tories and Labour on most issues. They offer no real choice and the forces of corporatism and fascism (yes, I know I keep using that word) will win either way.

The Greens are also offering a pretty decent agenda but I have a mistrust of single issue politics and, as I said before, the more votes the Lib Dems collect the more manifest the crookedness of our voting system.

Labour AND the Conservatives both stand for vested interests that operate to the detriment of the vast majority of the population. The existing voting system supports that. A three sided fight is much harder to fix (ever played Risk?) and I maintain that people of conscience should do their best to make this happen.

Peter said...

Haha. Risk is great. Takes far too long though.

It's interesting that devolved Wales and Scotland were given proportional representation because (according to Blair) it's "more fair"; too fair for England then?

It seems such an obvious way to improve the system I'd have thought a minority party would have campaigned on it. Italy's given it a bad name.

Stef said...

The Liberals used to campaign heavily on the issue of PR but people wrote that off as them just campaigning to secure influence for themselves. It got boring.

PR does have its problems. In some incarnations it kills off the concept of a consituency MP plus it also gives a voice to unsavoury as well as savoury minority parties.

However, times have changed and our old system isn't cutting it. The two main parties offer no real choice and have been well and truly bought and, sorry, I've no problem if the BNP does pick up a seat out of 650 on offer. The communists should pick up a couple as well. Democracy is supposed to be representative and if you disagree with a minority view you should deal with it by argument and not by shrieking or criminalising people.

Re. Risk being more interesting when three people play. Have you noticed that neither Tory nor Labour people refer to the Lib Dems at all, unless pushed? ('You're either with us or against us!!!' No actually, I'm against you and that other bunch of bastards as well) That's reason in itself to advocate voting for Lib Dems, for all their undounted faults.