Friday, 9 October 2009

Election Nausea in Britain.

The Brown Stuff.

Believe it or not, we are currently in the run up to the General Election of 2010, which should be held in May. Though, many have wanted an election since 2007 when Brown succeeded Blair, much in the way that Popes succeed Popes. No change of substance, but a change of shadow. We traded in the Presidential Blair, along with all the blood under his fingernails, for a one-eyed dour Scot, devoid of emotion and charisma. But essentially government remained the same. It may be true that a week is a long time in politics, but it seems doubtful that much will have changed in the many months between now and the General Election. As Prime Minister, Brown enjoyed a short "honeymoon" bouncing triumphantly from the "attack" on Glasgow Airport to the foot-and-mouth "outbreak", before dropping six points behind the Conservatives. The reason for the sudden drop was the dithering around a possible early election, and it was down hill from there.

By the Labour Party Conference of September 2009, Gordon Brown appeared to be flailing for appealing policies, clutching at cheap rhetoric and desperately trying to squeeze into his old socialist trousers. This was definitely a last ditch attempt at survival after a devastating year of bank bailouts and expenses scandals. He attempted to evoke Middle England with talk of a "hard-working majority", which was reminiscent of the "silent majority" phrase often used by Nixon - that he had "borrowed" from Homer who used it to refer to the dead. Brown dismissed the "right-wing fundamentalism" as a "failed ideology", ignoring the obvious fact that he had embraced such ideology for a decade. But ultimately Brown's attempt at "bouncing back" was quickly quashed by The Sun, or more accurately by Rupert Murdoch, who claimed that "Labour's Lost It." It is clear whom Murdoch has sided with, David Cameron, the man who promised to remove the regulatory system that restrains Murdoch from "competing" with the BBC.

Giving Labour a bad image in the press at this point is a somewhat pointless gesture. After all it was Murdoch who backed, what he called, "the Bush policy" in regards to the Middle East. We all know what this government has done wrong, the biggest financial meltdown in 80 years would have been enough on it's own to damn the Labour Party for the next decade or two. But Labour hasn't just driven our economy into the ground and then rewarded those responsible. Many cannot forgive the lying that was used to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2003, a conflict which has left around 1 million Iraqis dead and millions of others displaced. The war in Afghanistan is no more noble, that conflict is being fought to establish a gas pipeline for Halliburton. Unconvincingly, politicians are sticking to same old story "We need to fight them over there, or we'll be fighting them over here." It's an old argument, Lyndon B Johnson once said "We have to stop the communists over there [Vietnam] or we'll soon be fighting them in California." Apparently, this age-old argument justifies blowing 90 children to bits, as NATO fighter planes did last month. A "bad image" should be the least of the Blairites' worries, some would like to see many of them on trial with the Bush Administration.

The Alternative.

The only alternative being the Conservative Party as led by David Cameron, an Etonian Tory who dreams of walking in the footsteps of Thatcher. Though, it isn't clear how Cameron intends to "roll back" the state even further than Thatcher did. Many in Britain believe that the choice is between two parties - and that if you don't want Labour you must vote Conservative - and voting for anyone else is a waste of a vote. Essentially, Cameron's success is derived from the apathetic reaction to the banking bailouts and the expenses row - that typified the failures of New Labour. But it is easy to ride the wave of right-wing populism hindering New Labour. This sort of populism is what made Boris Johnson the Mayor of London and launched the fascist Nick Griffin to a seat in the European Parliament.

People voted for Boris either because they found him funny or because they were outraged by Mayor Livingstone's spending on his private life. But now we're stuck with a Mayor who is currently yearning to demolish estates in White City and Acton, so he can build affordable homes for the needy - people who earn £72,000 and over. The Conservatives are calling it giving common people the "right to move" and there are rumours they may be looking to dismantle council housing completely. But ultimately, even the Conservative Party Conference failed to greatly "invigorate" or "fire up" British voters. Why? Perhaps, it is the fact that everyone knows this is a choice between two evils and there is no lesser evil. By the end of the Conference they had increased in popularity by 4%, which apparently constitutes a "surge" in support for their policies, according to Murdoch's Sky News. This surge was mostly down to the populist critique of Labour utilised by David Cameron in his final speech. Though, his speech clearly lacked any solutions to the failures of the Labour Party.

During recessions it is common for people to "flock" to the Right for answers, because the Right always have a scapegoat in mind at the best of times. But let's not forget that New Labour are on the Right too, but they lack a credible scapegoat. It is clear after the last 12 years that Labour, the People's Party, has failed the people. But we all know that it is the Conservative Party policy to fail the people.
In Brown's speech at the Labour Party Conference the Prime Minister acknowledged that the upcoming general election will be a choice between "two parties". In effect he acknowledged what many have known for years, that our political system is in no way democratic. The choice we face is between the people who failed us and the people who failed us. We actively acknowledge this fact whenever we say something along the lines of "A vote for the Lib Dems is a wasted vote." The truth is we don't need a fourth party, or even a third, we need a first party that represents us. Unfortunately, it looks like we are in for a decade of Conservative governance.

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