IT’S OFFICIAL. The British election campaign has been formally declared (voting on 7 May). Punters, not only in Britain but, possibly, internationally may have thought it had been going-on for at least the last month or so. Interesting that all those politicians and commentators, who wax lyrical about how British democracy is so ‘wonderful’, involves a visit to ask an unelected, hereditary head of state to ‘dissolve’ parliament. Tug your forelocks plebs. For the next month or so Britain does not have an elected government. Will anybody notice?
What’s on offer? Not a great deal to be frank. The Labour party and Conservatives, the two largest ‘mainstream’ parties are not battling over austerity policies (i.e., whether austerity is good or bad) but on how to manage them. GREAT! That’s really going to motivate people to vote.
The Liberal Democrats I really couldn’t give a ‘toss’ about. UKIP, led by a private school educated, upper class toff/spiv and a neo-Thatcherite to boot are infectious to some — rather like a contagious disease. They have been picking up support from former Labour voters; if there is one thing the left, generally, it is to explain why this party does not support them. UKIP leader, Nigel Farage, is a bad piece of satirical humour; his only employment experience has been, as far as one can tell, as a financial wanker in the City of London. They only have two policies: withdraw from the European Union (‘glorious’ isolationism never seems to go out of fashion) and ‘clamping’ down on migration to Britain. And they wonder why they attract members who think that all migrants are suspicious.
I can’t really comment on the Scottish National party or the Welsh Plaid Cymru. I hold my hands up and admit I don’t know enough about these parties; in the north of Ireland the situation is more difficult. Historically, Ulster was made up of nine counties but was reduced to six, essentially to ensure a pro-Unionist (UK) majority in the north following the establishment of the Irish Republic. Traditionally, Sinn Fein MPs do not sit in the British parliament.
The Green party are being denounced by ultra-sectarian/leftists as ‘petit bourgeois’, and some of these critics are members (if they can remember to pay their membership dues) of Left Unity. Have a look in the mirror … Many of the Green party’s critics on the left need to check the ‘reality’ button on their various devices. They are not perfect and I haven’t met a Green party member who has claimed they were a perfect party. Yet it is clear to me that they are the largest party to the left of Labour. Their share of the national vote will probably not be reflected in more MPs (such is the nature of our ‘glorious’ parliamentary first-past-the-post democracy). They have made mistakes, I think, in Brighton (where they have led a minority city council) and may have made similar mistakes elsewhere.
The answers are not in a text book written in the early 20th century. The answers are out there in the real world ✪