Un potage

Are things hotting-up or are elections becoming a mess? No slurping at the back

POLITICIANS, commentators like the simple life (laced with some luxury). In Britain no-one is keen to predict the outcome of the 7 May general election. There is plenty of speculation, usually involving scaremongering. What is clear is that the two major parties, Labour and Conservative, are in retreat. Governments in the future will be formed by alliance or formal coalition. Many other European countries must be ‘pissing-themselves’: “Welcome to the real world” they might say.

Given the fragmentation of traditional British party politics we can only hope that some form of proportional electoral system will again be back on the agenda. Labour and the Conservatives will, of course, remain opposed; they both prefer large unrepresentative electoral constituencies. The national share of the vote for smaller parties is never reflected in parliament. It is unlikely that Ukip are in favour of proportional representation; for all their chaotic ‘song-and-dance’ routine about being anti-establishment they are clearly not. If anything, given Nigel Farage’s attempts to vet Ukip candidates, they would appear to be ‘grooming’ the moderate bigoted vote. A sight for sore eyes and clearly not always successful.

“… mortified …”

What has been intriguing, and gratifying, is that the three leftwing party leaders are women. Nicola Sturgeon from the Scottish nationalists, Leanne Wood of the Welsh nationalists/Plaid Cymru and Natalie Bennett of the Greens. Poor Ed Miliband (Labour) looked mortified when the three women gave each other a collective, sisterly, post-televised election debate hug. Natalie Bennett may not, immediately, come across as very confident but can still wipe the floor with the blokes. How embarrassing for them. Good!

The fragmentation, or overhaul, of traditional British politics continues apace. The ingredients of this ‘potage’ are a clue. For me, cooking is an ideal analogy. A cassoulet combines a number of different elements — similarly, a political party may combine a number of different currents, in effect an alliance — it is not too difficult to prepare but does require a lot of cooking time. Perhaps it’s just me but I find that more satisfying than watching some shite on the telly.

Other European radical left movements are years ahead of the Brits. If anyone on the British left thinks that a new radical left movement is going to grow in the fashion of Syriza in Greece or Podemos in Spain then I really think they should check their medication. In northern Europe, as I have said before, the Danish Red-Green Alliance is probably a more telling example of the challenges ahead: it has taken 25 years to record a 6.9% share of the national vote in local and regional elections last year. If you’re looking for instant solutions I imagine you may well find the struggle for social justice frustrating. Socialist democracy is not something you’ll find at your nearest Ikea store (the parts never fit anyway) ✪

Copyright © Roland Wood for Storyboard4TMApril 2015
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Feature image
(c) Can Stock Photo