Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Will Democracy ever work for me?

Yes, I mean me personally. I got the vote in the mid 1970’s and democracy has never worked for me (talking UK). My vote has never made a difference and I have always been told that I must accept the “democratic will of the people”.

So I have, over and over and over again.

In 1979, The Conservatives won a majority in Parliament on a minority vote. I did not vote for them; I was in the majority but was told “accept the result, that is how our democracy works”. Likewise in 1983, 1987, 1992.

Year Parliamentary majority Percentage Vote
1979 Conservative 43.9%
1983 Conservative 42.3%
1987 Conservative 42.2%
1992 Conservative 41.9%

So I tolerated a minority ruling the country and dramatically changing it.

In 1997 another minority took over; I was not part of that minority but was told “accept the result, that is how our democracy works”. Likewise in 2001, 2005.

Year Parliamentary majority Percentage Vote
1997 Labour 43.2%
2001 Labour 40.7%
2005 Labour 35.2%

So I tolerated a minority ruling the country and dramatically changing it.

Then in 2005 we got another chance and this time we at least had a government who could claim a majority of votes.

Year Parliamentary majority Percentage Vote
2010 Conservative
Liberal
36.1%
23.0%

They did not represent me, but – with a combined vote of 59% – at least the demand “accept the result, that is how our democracy works” could claim some legitimacy – even though a lot of Conservatives and Liberals did not seem so sure!

Then in 2015 it was again back to normal with minority rule giving majority power. I was not part of that minority but was told “accept the result, that is how our democracy works”. Would I every feel that the Government – or even parliament “represented” me?

Year Parliamentary majority Percentage Vote
2015 Conservative 36.8%

But wait, on one (just one) current issue there was a parliamentary majority that supported my point of view. Hey it was not a government that I could recognise, but there was a parliamentary majority that supported a part of my point of view. At long last representative parliamentary democracy would work for me!

Then I woke up.

It seems that MPs are spineless delegates and they will swing like Tony Benn’s “weather vanes”. They will not act as a body and take a considered balanced view; the rule of the mob outside has them cowering!

I have news for them. The mob, given the chance, will probably vote in referenda for:

  • Taxes on the rich (and big corporations) only
  • Massive spending on the NHS (at least £350M more a week)
  • Massive spending on Education
  • Increased spending on the military – particularly the Navy
  • Subsidised rail fares – particularly for commuters to London
  • Free University Tuition
  • Support for industry
  • Free Access to the European Market (actually tariff free selling to everywhere)
  • Action against dumping (particularly of steel by the Chinese – consumer electronic dumping is OK, we don’t make them any more, so let’s have them as cheap as possible)
  • Restoration of the Empire and cheap imports from the Commonwealth
  • The death penalty for a variety of offences
  • Compulsory castration of all sex offenders
  • Breaking diplomatic relations with the USA in January 2017
  • “Three strikes and your are out” approach to offenders
  • No welfare for lazy bloody Northerns who won’t find a job
  • No welfare for feckless single mothers
  • Throwing out most immigrants
  • New immigrants not to qualify for any state services for five years – if ill, temporarily between jobs or destitute they can always go home
  • Throwing Scotland out of the UK (England Only)
  • Leaving the UK (Scotland only)
  • Visa free travel for all Britons
  • Proper border controls for foreigners
  • An open border with the Irish Republic (and future independent Scotland)
  • Knighthoods etc. for Wayne Rooney, Sue Johnson and Anton Deck (me neither, haven’t a clue who the latter is)
  • Leaving Eurovision

Representative Parliamentary Democracy is meant to avoid inconsistent incoherent decisions based on narrow majorities in chaotic accountability-free political campaigns. Sometimes that means realising the mob is wrong and telling them so.

It would help, of course, if Parliament was genuinely representative. And by that I don’t mean “looking like us”. I might (only might) look like Nigel Farage (it’s possible), but that does not mean he can represent me. Diane Abbott looks absolutely nothing like me – but is a little closer to my political stance (only a little mind).

For Parliament to be genuinely politically representative it must reflect the diversity of opinion in the country:

  • All flavours of Tory (one nation, Europhile, Europhobe, Euroseptic, wet, dry etc.)
  • All flavours of Labour (where do you start?)
  • Most flavours of Liberals (there has to be a limit they can’t all have a representative)
  • A genuine range of Greens (at least five a day)
  • Nationalists who represent a range of opinions other than mere separation (What happened to the Tartan Tories?)
  • Yes, and in a representative parliament, a few trots, a few populists, and the odd (very odd) fascist. (In a parliament of 650, why shouldn’t a minority of say 1% of opinion have at least the chance of one representative?)

Our current system boils down the political diversity of the country to two main parties (thanks to the electoral system) and within those parties to a boring near homogeneity of political clones (thanks to the stranglehold of selection committees ensuring the voters never get near being able to vote between a range of flavours). The two main parties each try to act as single voices when they are actually boiling coalitions of different views.

When a minority sits on power,  they sit on a powder keg. Powder kegs have a habit of causing unexpected events – which usually result in uncertainty and expensive painful change. If parliament was genuinely representative of the diversity of political opinion in the country it would be more sensitive and responsive to changing opinion.

Who knows we might have changed Europe by refusing to ratify the Maastrict or Lisbon treaties. We might have addressed global inequality and impact of globalisation on individual groups.

Who knows? Worth a try?

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