Tuesday, 4 May 2010

2010 Election: Wish List.

Change, please...

With the 2010 General Election approaching at a frankly nauseating pace marked by vacuous slogans, meaningless publicity, dull debates and mediocre comments by "professional" parliamentarians. I think I speak for all British people when I say it is truly "exhilarating" to choose between three political parties  which are almost identical, when I can just walk down to the shop and choose between dozens of different chocolate bars. It is a testament to the decline of democracy and political pluralism, that the right to vote has been reduced to a method of maintaining the status quo and avoiding the "greater evil". In a sense, it is a conservative system, to vote against a certain party in the hope of maintaining the dominance of one party. Cynicism is rife and idealism is rare, what is left is the prevailing ideology that is thriving in an atmosphere of discontent. Nevertheless,  because of the overwhelming "exhilaration" of this upcoming election, instead of covering the last debate, I have decided to type up a list of policies that I am for and would vote for.

1. A real dedication to decreasing the gap between the rich and the poor. Methods of accomplishing this include: progressive taxes, raising the minimum wage, setting a maximum wage, the redistribution of wealth etc. Though, this kind of dedication may deter investors and drive corporations out of the country, which is why it should be enforced through the European Union. A region as large and profitable as Europe would be too valuable to lose for any corporation. Another great policy in this area would be the 'Robin Hood' tax, that would see a 0.05% tax levied on the transactions of the banking sector. The money from which could go a long way to eradicating poverty and saving the environment.
2.  Subject major foreign policy decisions to referenda, specifically invasions that the US government might try to drag us into. So that the government requires the support of the majority of the population to go to war. This might have prevented the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and it has the potential to stop future unnecessary acts of aggression. As we would not be rushing off to kill anyone sitting on a sea of black gold any time soon, it is fair to say that Britain might lose it's status as lieutenant to the American government.
3. Prepare to resolve the 'Pensions Crisis' without fobbing off pensioners onto unstable private pension schemes, which are subject to the chaos of the stock market and will give working people a stake in undermining their own interests. There remains the options of raising taxes and increasing immigration. These are not popular options, especially with the more reactionary sectors of society who feel that immigrants only come to Britain to take jobs and benefits. Regardless of such woes, a combination of the two remaining options could function to resolve the crisis.
4. A rational drug policy based on scientific research and evidence, not petty moralising on the dangers of "permissive society". This would include the legalisation of cannabis, as there is no scientific evidence that supports the assertion that cannabis is more harmful than tobacco and alcohol. Whereas, harder substances can be prescribed to addicts as part of rehabilitation programs. In the Netherlands a similar policy has decimated the market for heroin and has reduced the number of heroin addicts in recent years. Sadly, something tells me that Richard Littlejohn and his friends on Fleet Street would love this one.
5. Proportional representation, so that we the people might actually be able to elect political parties which represent us. One downside being the major parties, that agree so much with one another, will have to "tolerate" competing parties and that it could slow down the political process. But the inefficiency of democracy does not justify the kind of democratic deficit we have endured for so long. Another downside would be the unsettling possibility of fascists gaining seats in Parliament, as parties like the BNP win the votes of the neglected classes. Though, this is a reason to focus on integration and class issues rather than avoid reforming the political system.

The problem with the brand of "democracy", currently set in the cement of Parliament, is that it is somewhat conservative in practice. Those who vote often do so to prevent someone worse than the incumbent from gaining power. The aim is not to engineer change on any scale, but to hold onto the "lesser evil" for as long as possible. It is as if there is something missing from the political system, something substantive, something radical. Among the major parties, Lib-Lab-Con, the old political dynamic of Left and Right has been abandoned. The Left has been quietly marginalised and the Labour Party is regarded, by the right-wing media, as the established left-wing party of Britain. Today there is only the Right, presented in conservative and liberal forms by the major parties. Perhaps, this is indicated by the fact that we tend to vote on grounds of "lesser" and "greater" evil. What we need is a major party that unambiguously supports progressive causes which a majority of the population support already.

1 comment:

T.S. Ó Ceallaigh said...

Agree whole-heartedly.