And so it begins…
So let’s start with a few semi-random statements, that may explain where I am coming from.
I grew up on a diet of Spitting Image (back from before it stopped being funny). This pretty much set the tone for my interest in politics. One of my earliest jobs was counting votes in elections. This was before I was old enough to legally vote. I used to be a lifelong Liberal Democrat voter. There were a couple of gaps, such as when I was living abroad, and more recently when the local councils failed to keep track of my frequent changes of address (this is a symptom of London’s housing crisis; more on that another time).
I was shocked and disappointed when Mr Clegg decided to join forces with the Conservative party. While I did not vote for the Liberals in that election, I would have if the paperwork had been in place.
So where do we stand now?
The Liberal party has lost credibility, sacrificing it in the name of short term power. There were in a position to set themselves up as the fulcrum in British politics, part of her majesty’s opposition, but by judicious use of party whips they could have allowed either of the two larger parties to bring through specific policies that they wanted. Instead, Mr Clegg wanted to sit in the cabinet meetings. He got his wish. The electorate didn’t get theirs.
The Conservative party is rather obviously in the pocket of big business. It doesn’t represent the electorate.
The Labour party? The leadership sacrificed its Fabian Society roots. It was originally created to represent the interests of the urban poor. Given that it allowed the banking crisis to develop thirteen years into its reign, it can’t really deny blame for this. Yes, the financial crisis did start in the USA, and the old saying that, “When the USA sneezes, the world catches a cold” is certainly true. But it’s not the whole story. In their desperation to build up the British banking industry, they did nothing to control the high level of risk undertaken by UK banks. In a good economic climate, those risks did little damage. But just as you don’t go out in the rain without a coat, you don’t take big risks in a recession. And Labour allowed big risks to happen.
We’re all in this together. Bankers, factory workers, office clerks, retailers. Every one of us. Labour’s “oh well, so what if a banker takes a risk” attitude clearly failed us.
All three big parties failed us.
The problem isn’t the recession. Or the depression, as some of the economists are now calling it. That’s just a symptom. The problem is machine politics. This is sometimes called party politics, or the whip system. Essentially, it means that an MP votes according to the needs of his party and the instructions of the party whip, handed down from the party leadership. And as often as not, the party leaders are receiving kickbacks from special interest groups and professional lobbyists. The party machine political system means that it is inherently impossible for a party MP to represent his constituency.
It is time for independent politicians who will represent their constituents. It is time for demarchy in the UK.