Sunday, 9 May 2010

Uncertain times

If one thing appears certain in this period of uncertainty, it is that Mr Brown's days are numbered. I have to admit that I have a grudging admiration for the Supreme Leader - his resilience is nothing short of phenomenal. He had to live in Blair’s shadow for thirteen long years, he has faced down a number of coup attempts from his own party, and has suffered a sustained character assassination from the right wing press which most of us mere mortals would have found difficult to survive. By the end of the campaign it was beginning to show on his time wearied face. But the die is cast and the daggers are poised, Mr Brown can fall on his sword or he will be decapitated. For the good of his party and the good of the country and for his own good, he must go.

Mr Brown and Mr Darling will be much better treated by historians than by us, because of the vital job they did stopping this country from folding during the banking crisis, which nearly caused the Western financial system to collapse and which certainly wasn’t Labour's fault. Britain plc came within a hair’s breadth of going bust, something a great many still do not seem to fully grasp and something which we will still be paying for perhaps two decades from now. Our bile should be directed at the bankers who bet the house and lost, taking us down with them and who are now dictating demands for cuts in public services for those of us who bailed them out. Our politics however dictated that Brown and Labour had to take the flak. It is a repeating feature of our history that the British public may be thankful for your services, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will vote for you come polling day. Churchill was beloved by the nation after the war, but he was still swept away by a Labour landslide. Mr Brown was by no stretch of the imagination Churchill and he was most defiantly not beloved, however he will be shown to be the longest serving and most successful Chancellor in our long history.

The election has delivered the hung parliament that we were vociferously warned about by Ken Clarke and the poisonous right wing press – and so far the sky hasn’t fallen in. Welcome to ‘grown up politics’ everyone, where a fraction of the population aren’t able to exercise a five year tyranny over the rest of us. It is worth noting that Britain and the Vatican City are the only states in Europe to not have a proportional system, so one assumes the rest of Europe are watching the media whirlwind here with mild amusement – or they would be if Greece wasn’t weighing so heavily on their minds.

The Lib-Dem bubble was blown by our old nemesis, First Past the Post and when it came to it, the charge of ‘vote Clegg get Brown’ from the Tories and ‘vote Clegg get Cameron’ from Labour, coupled with anti-Tory tactical voting made liars of the opinion pollsters. We increased our share of the vote and those sneering from the Labour ranks should note they got just six percent more than us, or two million more votes from an electorate of forty five million. The Conservatives with two million more than Labour, or four million more than us, do not under any definition have a mandate from the nation.

I have deep, deep misgivings about any suggestion of a coalition with the Tories. I have been impressed by the conciliatory nature of their leadership’s rhetoric since the negotiations, but the vile hot air blowing from the party’s right wing mean that we would get bugger all from Cameron et al, other than sharing the blame for the inevitable savage cuts and punitive tax rises that have to come. I do not think cabinet jobs are in anyway worth the cost without a cast iron guarantee for a Single Transferable Vote PR system – something Cameron cannot deliver. As for a ‘rainbow coalition’, as much as I would like to see it ideologically and as Labour would give us whatever we wanted, it doesn’t seem likely and it would not go down well with the nation. The charge of a stitch up would be difficult to defend.

There is a growing movement for electoral reform, a so called 'purple revolution' which possibly before too long could force this issue out of the politicians’ hands – it has outgrown being simply the ‘third’ party’s concern, there is deep anger and resentment bubbling beneath the surface. The current system is indefensibly corrupt. More people didn’t bother to vote than those who voted Tory. Those of us not voting for red or blue account for 35% of the electorate and we got 85 seats. The Tories got 36% and were entitled to 307 seats, Labour with 29% are somehow allowed 258.

The current system is a Victorian relic which only works in a two party state, something Britain hasn’t been for thirty years. I believe that the whole of our politics needs to be restructured and that it would be beneficial for those trapped in the charade ‘parties’ of Labour and the Conservatives, which are in reality coalitions of competing ideologies. The lurches from left to right lead to instability, each gleefully tearing up the others legislation as soon as the pendulum swings. Society is more complex than this false system and everyone has the right to have their voice heard in a democracy. The real world is one based on compromise, where people have different opinions and consensuses are built. A system where our politicians seem to behave like children is not in the national interest. It is time for Britain to enter the 21st century.

Here's John Cleese explaining PR from a 1987 Aliance broadcast.

The British establishment should be warned, if it thinks that stealing 35% of the electorate’s representation is permissible and that they will keep getting away with it forever, then they are very much mistaken. We will not go away, we will not give up. We demand a fair voting system. Nick Clegg should also be warned, ‘getting into bed’ with the Tories whilst failing to deliver a fair voting system would not be easily forgiven either.

If you would like a fair voting system please sign the petition here.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Antony,

    I liked your analysis. Although AV is not a real PR system I think the Green Party will campaign for a Yes vote if it ever gets to a referendum.

    Best wishes