Ten days until the election here in the UK and things are looking more interesting than usual. The newspapers are calling it “The Clegg Effect” but then the newspapers also thought Mephedrone was called “Meow Meow” so I suspect their opinion on why the Liberals are polling better than usual might well be about as useful as their opinion on whether cannabis being class B or class C will stop someone smoking a joint.Personally I suspect that anyone half competent in his place saying roughly the same things (IE, stating Lib policy) would be getting roughly the same effect. Kennedy or Ashdown probably a better effect. After all, they’d benefit not only from being neither Gordon Brown nor a Tory, but also from being well known and liked. The Lib’s Labservative campaign says it all really. Everyone’s fed up with what we’ve had for the last ten years and the Tories look like the same only more so. As long as the alternative looks different and even vaguely credible we might as well try it. Course, to judge by the chatter on the networks you’d think the Liberals were even more ahead than the polls say. Twit Vote is a sea of yellow, Facebook’s got yellow by far in the lead, Nick Clegg beats David Cameron at GoogleFight by 3 to one. (Obviously google-fight is no good for measuring incumbents, they’ve had 5 years of press). Nobody seriously expects that to leak into real life, it’s what they’re dismissively calling “the twitter echo chamber” and it certainly is one. But echo chambers do one thing very well: they make the voices in them louder. We’ve had the capitalist corporatist echo-chamber of the print and broadcast media for so long we forget that the newspapers don’t represent everybody either. The internet has brought with it lots more echo chambers and it’s drowning out the traditional voices that tell everyone who to vote for. Which opens up the field somewhat, even for those who aren’t listening to that chamber. It still inflates the confidence and noise of their friends that do, the things said there do seep into real-life conversations. The twitter echo chamber, blogs, social and personal media, they’re all making everyone’s voices louder. Is it loud enough to drown out the corporate press who traditionally only really shout their own? Perhaps not yet, but it’s likely having an influence as much as the specific face standing looking slightly creepily into the cameras. Anyway, whatever the reason the Liberals are polling better than usual, it seems to have both the other parties worried. The Guardian reports today that Labour and the Tories moved to confront the Liberal Democrat surge as they warned of the dangers of a hung parliament. What does that mean? It means the leaders of those parties asked the newspapers to report that they thought a hung parliament would be bad and the newspapers uncritically agreed to do so. Hurray for an independent questioning challenging press. The mainstream parties claim that they fear “weak indecisive government,” but who exactly would be making it indecisive? If they really would just prefer the opposition being decisive to to bickering and argument then all they have to do is stop bickering and arguing. Surely? It ain’t that hard. You compromise, look for consensus, put ideas to proper evidence-based testing and analysis. Work with your co-workers not against them, like the rest of us have to at work every single day. What they’re really saying when they say “weak indecisive government” is “we care so little for the welfare of our country that we’ll wreck it rather than seeing those others get their way” Nice. Thanks for letting us know. Only I’m not really up for voting for people who would rather see Britain “paralysed” than play a constructive role in cooperative governance. Clearly what they’re really worried about is parliament actually representing the people, for in a representational parliament they would never have absolute power again. And they like absolute power. Politicians are attracted to power like I am to redheads. They’ll genuinely try not to go crazy insane with desire for it, but they are absolutely rubbish at doing so. They go crazy anyway. They think their ideas are self-evident without needing to be discussed, debated, argued and even actually scientifically tested. If they’re allowed to do whatever they want without a sanity check they’ll not bother with a sanity check. They even state it outright: They want “Strong Government,” this is their reason to dismiss Proportional Representation. They want government to be strong. See, I think that strong government leads us into wars despite millions out on the streets marching against them. It leads to to a poll-tax, to failed banking regulation crashing the economy. It leads to cow-towing to business that lobby against the freedom of the people. Strong government does whatever the hell it wants, consequences be damned. Government is power, and power needs to be moderated, it needs checks and balances and should operate though consensus or not at all. We are better off with no new laws than bad new laws. Remember, like Bill Hicks says, all governments are liars and murderers. Personally I like my liars and murderers not to be strong. Perhaps we occasionally need someone to lie and murder on our behalf, but the rest of the time they should be chained and restrained not raging out of control boasting about the size of their majority, giving PFI corporate hand-outs to their friends and benefactors while stuffing their own pockets full of our cash.
So it looks like a no-brainer to me. The whole political system is broken, suffering from too much centralized power, unrepresentative government, political scandal, unfair media influence, lobbying, bribery, and unchecked kleptocracy. We can’t even vote ’em out coz the stupid first past the post system divides us geographically to conquer us politically. Everyone locked out. Depending where you live you’re lucky to get a third lesser-evil to vote for, never mind someone who actually represents your views.Only answer is to vote for whichever party is promising to make parliament more representative. If the Liberals weren’t offering that I’d be spoiling my ballot anyway. Now personally I think the Lib Dems are far too unwilling to tax the rich, redistribute wealth, and remove all victimless crimes. I’d like to vote for an anarcho-socialist party. I’d like my MP to be someone who actually had something in common with my views and I don’t care if he lives in London or Wales so long as he actually does that. Geographical link be damned. But there is nobody like that standing, not in my seat, not in the vast majority of the seats. So I’ll go out and vote for the folks who might make that a bit more possible. What else can you do?
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