A Semblence of Freedom..
The sentiment “the world isn”t fair’ is one that almost everybody will have heard or thought at some point or other, but in a supposedly free and democratic society, why is this the case?
In the UK at least, contempt for the actions of political leaders seems far from rare, in fact it seems to be the norm. Tony Blair was hated for Iraq and Afghanistan, Brown for the state of the economy, Clegg for selling out his beliefs, Cameron for his policy of cuts and Miliband for his lack of charisma, passion and substance! So why are these people amongst the most influential UK politicians to emerge in the past decade? Could first past the post voting be so out of touch with the everyday people, or is it something else?
Whilst the concept of the wasted vote has undoubtedly played a huge role in the successes of the Labour and Conservative parties over others such as the Greens and Lib Dems, scaring their voters away by telling them they will lose anyway, could this myth really be enough to have swayed the vote in their favour for quite so long? It seems unlikely, although if the alternative vote succeeds in getting through, we will soon see!
I propose that it is something else entirely, which bolsters their successes, namely their ability to finance election campaigns for individuals in all the contested boroughs as opposed to some. This has a whole variety of implications extending far beyond simply being able to pick up more seats though!
Firstly, it means sponsorship will be likely to come from more influential figures and multinational corporations (for example over 50% of donations to the Conservative election campaign came from the square mile of the City of London), which creates the problem that despite their manifesto’s, party leaders concerns will revolve around the success of their party (in financial terms), so for example the Tories have created a tax haven here for multinational companies, not attempted to seriously clamp down on tax evasion and loopholes, and have instead implemented a series of cuts to public sector jobs and government funding of education and the arts, whilst disregarding any claim that there could be a more moderate solution to our problems, despite the fact that in many cases their reshuffles and cuts were costing more money than they saved.
Linked to this first problem is the second issue of media coverage, as whilst parties like the greens may only be standing in individual constituencies, and so will primarily appear in local news, the larger parties will receive publicisation on a national or even global scale! This however will also rub off on how well their manifesto’s are known and understood, or the criticisms they are making of the other parties. This creates the issue for many less enthusiastic voters, who have not taken the time to examine other parties manifesto’s to vote for a manifesto they partially agree with or one they don’t know much about, but have heard only negative things about (surprisingly enough from their competitors who are trying to talk down everyone elses ideas as inferior to their own!).
Whilst with sensationalist media and powerful multinational corporations controlling what we do and don’t see and hear it is hard to see how any of this will change (maybe some people don’t even think it should), you begin to question quite how free you truly are. If you are unhappy with the system, you can ask the police to let you protest (walk from A-B and leave) or you can wait 4 years and hope peoples voting habits will change based on the knowledge that a political leader surviving for a second re-election is a rarity in itself, but if neither of these options are for you then you can deal with it!
Long gone are the days when freedom was the ability to do as one pleased so long as it did not detract from the rational and reasonable wants and needs of others, now freedom is thought of as the ability to work and live in a beurocratised and currently deteriorating society, where every couple of years a leader who has not received a majority of the national vote is chosen to dictate policy to the country for the next few years, whereby only in light of a major backbench revolt from within their own party or a general strike is there any chance of their policy failing, and with the whip system comfortably in place, alongside a number of career politicians filling the benches of Westminster, the likelihood of that happening is highly negligible unless their policy is hated enough to unite people of all walks of life to protest against it (as with the war in Iraq and current programme of cuts), in which case they still largely choose to ignore popular demand.