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I’m sorry but really, I take flack when I say that I am yet to see if democracy is a concept that can work in practice when people start their usual chesnuts about communism and socialism. “It may not be much but it’s the best we’ve got” is often a retort, well bugger me for not being happy with 5th best! If you actually look at what is going on in the “civilised” western world now vast swathes of the populous have been totally disenfranchised by a combination of government and corporations. Democratic deficit, I mean if my bank account was that much in deficit they’d have sent the poxy bailiffs round!

America is a democratic mess, I mean if it were a country in Africa you’d have had the UN in to clean up the corruption and attempt to overhaul the ludicrous electoral system. To have a presidential election based on some arcane electoral college system is a farce. In Britain the “secret” ballot would have been publicly exposed as a lie and again the system would be overhauled. The same is true of many countries and I’m sure Italy, France and Germany can site equal examples. look at France -‘vote for the crook not the fascist’ was the slogan used by the Left at the last presidential election where those to the left were forced to vote for Chirac over the nationalist Jean-Marie Le Pen. In Italy Berlusconi has the sort of control of the media that would not be allowed in the developing world and would be seen, quite rightly, as a conflict of interest. And Bossi is just a local model not even close to parity with someone like Murdoch, yet his control of the media and politics has enabled him to evade corruption charges and practically block dissention. In Germany the Schroeder SPD government has modelled itself closely on Tony Blair’s New Labour and like here the upshot has been that those on the left have formed their own political party the WASG (Wahlalternativ -Arbeit und Soziale Gerechtigkeit)

In Britain we now have ‘Tough Liberalism’, ‘Compassionate Conservatism’ and New Labour -The Third Way’ if you can find the bloody difference between them then you deserve an honorary degree in Political Science. The trouble is that the ‘accepted premises’ are all the same this belief in weak parliamentary democracy, and what they call the ‘Free Market’ which is actually loose protectionism. I mean I’m no economist and I do not espouse the planned economy as such because I don’t really understand it but to me I guess the way it works is you decide what people are going to require for a defined period of time and you gamble on your forecast being correct, the trouble is if you are wrong you do not have the flexibility to do anything about it. Now correct me if I’m wrong but in the capitalist market lots of people speculate money based on a prediction of supply and demand, if the supply and demand change due to unforeseen circumstances they do not have the flexibility to adapt and they lose money. Hmmmmmm.

So with the British general election looming large on the horizon what should you do if you are even remotely left of centre? To my mind if you are in a constituency that has a Respect candidate then the position is clear, for whatever you may think of particular people within the party Respect remain by and large the only show in town for the left. There may be individual constituencies where there are socialist candidates or independents with a progressive left-wing agenda but I suspect many people will be faced with a ballot paper reading Labour, Conservative, Lib-Dem, UKIP and BNP. That to my mind already sums up what is wrong with this present form of democracy! If you are faced with precisely such a paper what should you do? I believe this falls into 2 categories, are you going to vote idealistically or pragmatically? If you are to follow the true democratic principle then you have but 2 choices you wither spoil your ballot in order to show that you are not apathetic but disenchanted and disenfranchised or you can vote for the party that best represents what you believe which is likely to be the Lib-Dems if it comes down to the 3 major parties. Your alternative is the less democratic but more pragmatic tactical vote whereby you vote to keep one side out. You may want to give the Labour government a kicking but it has to be said the Tories are worse so should you vote Labour to keep the Tories out? Not an easy decision I’ll grant you since the Labour party now is practically a mirror image of the Tory party in 1972.

The Baron’s Election Choice – Create your own None Of The Above box and tick it, the spoiled ballot option for me I’m afraid to express my disgust at the current state of British electoral politics. Suffice to say I do not have a Respect candidate in my constituency and the Labour incumbant is a strong supporter of the New Labour stance.

Song Of The Day ~ They Might Be Giants – Your Racist Friend

Original Comments:


Mark Ellott made this comment,
For the first time in my life, I will be voting tactically. I want the parliamentary majority reduced. The best way of doing that locally is to vote Tory (after which, I will know how Lady MacBeth felt). More Tory MPs will sufficiently reduce the Labour majority and – hopefully – give us a hung parliament. That means that the government will be forces into consensus with the opposition parties.
It really is time our system was overturned for a more representational process.

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[Redbaron responds – I can see where you’re coming from but I just can’t ever countenance a vote for that bunch of krypto-fascists. Thee problem is regardless of the reasons a large Tory vote, whilst bringing down the majority will also give the mandate that the current set of serious right-wing politics are ‘what the people want.’]

comment added :: 27th April 2005, 21:19 GMT+01
Katie made this comment,
Ok this is a very rare occasion that I can pass what I feel is a more educated opinion than yours on a matter like this but your comments on the economy are just plan wrong. That is the way that *all* economics works, it is not a political stance it is the basis of all economics as the concept that we understand it to be today. Secondly “you can vote for the party that best represents what you believe which is likely to be the Lib-Dems if it comes down to the 3 major parties”, how can you possibly assume your readers stance? I find that comment almost offensive. You went to the vote count or the Europeans didn’t you? I did the year before that and I have to say spoiling your ballot does not create any more of a protest than not voting. 2 people at most are likely to see it and they do not even announce the number of spoilt papers. At the end of the day you’re voting in the system we have now, not your ideal system. The vote for anyone who believes in playing an active part in a democracy has to be between Tory and Labour at this moment in time there is no other realistic choice. As for the idea of trying to achieve a hung parliament that is so ridiculously impractical that I can’t believe anyone would suggest it.
PS Sorry about the phone call last night x

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comment added :: 29th April 2005, 03:19 GMT+01
Red Baron made this comment,
OK Katie now I really have to take issue with this, so much so that I am having to use a new comment, and you now how rarely I do that.
Firstly, simply saying ‘I know best ‘cos I’m doing economics’ and then failing to illustrate exactly why my idea is wrong doesn’t seem an especially constructive critique. Show me why, after all this view that capitalist market economics is the only way is not shared by everyone, so why are we wrong? Why is Marx’s economic theory wrong? Please qualify your objection.

Secondly – I posed the question “what should you do if you are even remotely left of centre?” Now this question is an obvious opening gambit for what is going to be my opinion on the situation, it would be staggering were I to give anything else. My supposition that for those on the left the party “likely” to represent their views best out of the main 3 parties stands up to scrutiny, you do not even attempt to attack this point you simply accuse me of presumptuously expressing what I believe and assuming others believe the same, this is incorrect, I am advising what I believe and making a judgement based on that belief as to what I feel is right or left in this case!

Your dogmatic adherence to an out of date electoral system does you no credit and if you’ll forgive me for saying so it clouds your judgement. To say you have to put up with the system as it is now is reactionary claptrap. Were that the case then what would be the point in engaging in politics at all? At the moment the system makes a mockery of the term democracy and it has done for some time, blithely voting within the confines of what the status quo magnanimously allow you to do and expecting them to reform things from the inside is lunacy. To say it is either the Tories or Labour is the same old hackneyed argument that we have had pushed down our throats for decades and it leads me to a conclusion that the path must be one of two ways: Reform the system so that it is more accountable (this will not happen with either Labour or Conservative who both benefit from the current system) or change the fucking system. Personally I believe the reformation of the system from within is about as likely as me being next in line to the throne, so I propose the same thing for the system as I do for the throne, get rid of it and start again.

My recommendation for the spoilt ballot does not come fundamentally from a desire for that to be registered it comes from the strong conviction that I do not wish to give any of the current parties in my area a mandate to further their policies. However spoilt ballots are counted and are added into the final total, I believe this is a more powerful tool than staying at home and not voting and allowing the parties to blame it all on apathy. I am not apathetic about politics, far from it but I will not be press-ganged into voting for a party that acts in the interests of the corporate world and shafts the people it is supposed to be representing just because in 1945 the party actually stood for something.

As for you quick dismissal of the hung Parliament idea, for someone who is studying European politics as well as British, you would do well to look at other countries and what the necessity for coalition rule has done in their context. A hung Parliament whilst unlikely would within the current system be the ONLY way to have any electoral reform, that makes it a good thing and to be desired.

I’m afraid, Katie, like many of the other New Labour acolytes and Nomenklatura you are going to have to put up or shut up. You cannot be a supporter of the current Labour party and still hold any authority on a debate on progressive politics your credibility is too undermined. You may not wish to be a socialist, you may feel that a country run by politicians with vested interests and businesses is a good thing, if so then that is fine and you are in the right place, if not then you need to take a very good look at the party you support.

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comment added :: 29th April 2005, 11:19 GMT+01
A visitor made this comment,
God, what a mind. Beautiful rebuttal. Terribly sexy, too, if I may be so bold. And I am.
Kristie

comment added :: 29th April 2005, 16:57 GMT+01
Katie made this comment,
Ooh you aren’t half in a strop today, I didn’t say because I study economics I know better. “in the capitalist market lots of people speculate money based on a prediction of supply and demand, if the supply and demand change due to unforeseen circumstances they do not have the flexibility to adapt and they lose money” is what I took issue with, it is not just in a capitalist market that people speculate money based on a prediction of supply and demand; in all markets people speculate money based on predictions for the future which are in turn based on economic modelling from past performance of any market.
We disagree on how best to work within the confines of the current system and that’s fair enough. You’re right I am in the right place. I won’t apologise for continuing to support labour, you know that I have wavered on this point for some time but in the last week I have felt increasingly certain that I am making the right choice. In fact I’ve just come back from a debate with the 8 candidates in my constituency, where my MP is actually Charles Clarke and do you know what he impressed me, to me he was in a different league to the other candidates.

You argue better than I do, I know that and you know that, so I’m not going to contest the rest of the content as we simply disagree on it and I don’t think you’re wrong per se.

By the way Kristie’s right your mind is very sexy, but you knew that already. Still up for that shag if it’s still on offer. Have a good weekend hon; you owe me for the 5 hours the other night BTW. xx

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comment added :: 29th April 2005, 21:21 GMT+01
Mark Ellott made this comment,
Katie,
despite its obvious disadvantages, a hung parliament will put an abrupt end to the current roughshod ride that we currently have. Given our present system, a party that polled around 30 – 40 % of the vote (of those who were prepared to vote) gets to impose bad policy on all of us. Charles Kennedy was quite right – they are competing minorities. A hung parliament – or small majority government will force the largest party to negotiate with the opposition.It will also put an end to the obnoxious New Labour authoritarianism – of which your candidate is one of the chief proponents. This is the man that swept aside habeas corpus after 800 years – a man who derides the liberties my grandparents’ generation fought and died to preserve. A man who deserves to lose his seat at the election, but probably won’t.

Given our dreadful electoral system, a hung parliament is the best compromise we can hope for. As redbaron points out – a Lib Dem influence in such a situation might just remove the stranglehold that keeps us locked in the existing electoral system and force through a change.

I have been at the count (at the last two general elections). I agree that no one takes much notice of spoiled papers – which is why I won’t do that. A Lib Dem vote (which would be closest to my conscience) will be lost. If I’m to give Roger Berry a bloody nose (or better, a P45) it has to be a Tory vote. I’ll just have to live with the damned spot.

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comment added :: 30th April 2005, 11:24 GMT+01
JohnSherck made this comment,
Going back to a minor point in the OP:
But… but… I thought America was the model for democracy in the world! I mean, just ask most of us and we’ll tell you it’s true!

Granted, we can only maintain that belief through a very careful ignorance of the rest of the world (to say nothing about a profound ignorance about our own system).

Once one gets past that, though, I think it’s easy enough to see the flaws in our system. On the other hand, seeing the way from where we are to a better future… that’s a little more difficult.

BTW, thanks for a bit of insight into British politics with this post and the subsequent discussion!

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comment added :: 2nd May 2005, 02:04 GMT+01

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