They don't, they don't speak for us

So the debates are over. We've heard at great length from three right-wing politicians, offering us three slightly different flavours of right-wing policies. No alternative voices were permitted.

And the really troubling thing about this election is that that means NOBODY is speaking for the majority of the British population. It almost certainly means that nobody is speaking for you. Which, you might think, is a pretty odd way to be running a supposed democracy.

Because if you fall into any of the categories below, you have no party to vote for who will act in your interest (and has a realistic chance of obtaining any power). Neither Labour, the Tories or the Lib Dems are even promising to do anything for you, never mind actually planning to.

Even if you live in one of the 20% of constituencies where the party holding the seat might change next week, your vote is meaningless if any of these statements applies to you.

 

1. "I'M A TENANT"

You'd never know it from reading newspapers or watching TV, but millions of adults in Britain DON'T own their own homes. Around a third of the population – 20 million people – lives in rented accommodation, and their chances of ever joining the ranks of owner-occupiers get more and more distant with every passing month.

Only this week, the media revealed that house prices have risen by over 10% in the last 12 months, despite the average wage rise during the recession being close to zero. Since Labour came to power in 1997, when Gordon Brown promised "I will not allow house prices to get out of control and put at risk the sustainability of the future", the ratio of the average house price to the average wage has almost doubled (and in many areas, far more than that).

If you don't already own a home, the chances that you ever will are vanishing, at an ever-quickening pace. Meanwhile, those who do have enjoyed a windfall of hundreds of pounds a month during the recession as interest rates have been slashed to 0%.

Buy-to-let landlords also enjoy generous tax breaks and crank rents ever higher, even at times when house prices fall. At the same time the government chases eagerly behind them, with a policy of steadily increasing social-housing rents in real terms until they match the runaway private sector.

All of this builds a bigger and ever more insurmountable barrier in front of those who don't already own their homes, not least because tenants have to spend so much of their income on rent that their chance of saving up some cash for a now-vast deposit becomes an impossible pipe-dream.

Consciously, deliberately and vigorously, successive Tory and "Labour" rulers have engaged in an aggressive programme of separating society into haves and have-nots, defined by property ownership, with the intention of making the division permanent. With the government's full approval, home-owners are pulling the housing ladder up behind them, and the huge unearned profits they make from simply sitting in their houses are funded by levying crippling rents on everyone else who arrived too late for the gold-rush of the 1990s.

At the same time, with a straight face, the government currently responsible stands for re-election on a promise of "fairness for all".

The current economic crisis was almost entirely caused by this policy. Desperately trying to get onto the housing ladder before it disappeared out of reach forever drove millions of people into the so-called "sub-prime" mortgage market, which was the cause of the catastrophic banking crash, which in turn has reinforced the economic apartheid still further. (By handing home-owners more free money, as noted above, and penalising the poor with job losses and below-inflation wage rises.)

It's absolutely clear that in the interests of both "fairness" and the rebuilding of the economy on solid and sustainable ground, house prices have to fall, and fall substantially. But there are no votes in that – or at least, none in the marginal Middle England constituencies which are the only ones that matter in our crooked, broken electoral system. So we have the democratic choice between making the situation worse, a lot worse, or MUCH worse. Place your X in the box, sucker.

 

2. "I'M ANTI-WAR"

The UK went to war in Iraq and Afghanistan despite the largest public protests in the nation's – perhaps the world's – history, massively flawed intelligence, extremely doubtful legal justification and the blindingly obvious fact that it would make the country more likely to be targeted by terrorist attacks.

Hundreds of British deaths later, the British public still doesn't really understand why we're fighting or what we can hope to achieve, think the war is unwinnable, and wants our soldiers brought home. More than three-quarters of the electorate wants UK armed forces out of Afghanistan within a year at most, regardless of whether "victory" has been achieved.

(The troops themselves don't get a say in the matter.)

Yet all three main parties are running on policies of continuing the war indefinitely – even as the person we're trying to keep in power threatens to join the Taliban – wasting more lives and billions of pounds we can't afford, for no appreciable benefit other than to justify the further destruction of our civil liberties in order to combat a danger that only exists in the first place because we went to war. Pick your favourite, voter.

 

3. "I'M ANTI-NUCLEAR"

The Cold War is over. There is, quite simply, no military threat to the United Kingdom on the face of the planet. Yet all three of our main political parties want to spend tens of billions of pounds on new nuclear weapons. Most of the electorate is strongly opposed to this policy, whether it comprises the like-for-like replacement of Trident (Labour and the Tories) or the Lib Dems' mysterious unnamed possible alternative.

Of course, a vocal minority demands the retention of a nuclear "deterrent" – despite the plain fact that it didn't deter Saddam Hussein, or even deter Argentina from invading British sovereign soil – on the grounds that "we don't know what might happen in the future".

And of course, they're right – we don't know what might happen in the future. China, despite the fact that it's basically going to own the West within a generation anyway by purely economic means, might for some unfathomable reason decide to send the People's Liberation Army to invade the UK (thereby obliterating one of its own biggest export markets as well as unquestionably starting a world war whether Britain was nuclear-armed or not).

By the same token, Earth might be menaced by 900-MILE HIGH GIANT SPACE DINOSAURS!!! The Large Hadron Collider might achieve sentience and decide to atomise the entire planet in the search for the Higgs Boson. The new breed of Daleks might finally work out that if they just shoot The Doctor straight away the first moment they see him, he won't be able to stop them destroying the entire non-Dalek universe. We just don't know.

So why aren't we spending countless billions of pounds on those threats too? They're no more ridiculous than the idea of China invading, and equally likely to result in the total obliteration of mankind.

(In fact, if in Cameron's deranged fantasy world China did ever want to attack the UK, its huge physical size and enormous population could easily absorb the detonation of the UK's entire operational nuclear arsenal on its territory and barely register a scratch. If the Chinese REALLY wanted to invade – and remember, this is a nation happy to murder thousands of its own citizens when it feels like it – the single UK nuclear submarine that's on patrol at any given time isn't going to stop it. Indeed, they'd simply sink the sub as the act that started the war.)

Fortunately we live in a democracy, and can elect a government that doesn't want to spunk incomprehensibly vast sums of our money down a pointless nuclear black hole when there are about a million more pressing things to spend it on. What's that? Oh. Sorry. My mistake.

 

4. "I BELIEVE IN MORE EQUABLE DISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH"

International research shows beyond any reasonable doubt that the happiest, healthiest countries on Earth are the ones where income inequality is lowest. Due to the inherent selfishness of human nature, the only practical way to significantly lower economic inequality is through relatively high taxation aimed primarily at delivering top-grade public services that improve the quality of life for all, not just the rich.

(In a nutshell, this is the basic premise of socialism. It's not about somehow trying to make everyone equally rich.)

Accordingly, 85% of British voters want the wealth gap between the rich and poor to get smaller, not wider – not out of envy, but simply because it makes everyone happier. 13 years of "Labour" government, and 18 years of Tory government before it, have achieved the opposite.

So since we live in a democracy and have freedom of choice, at least one of the main parties must presumably be standing on a high-tax, redistributive platform, so that you can vote them into power to put this extensively-proven  successful model into practice, yes?

You're really not getting how this works, are you?

 

5. "I HATE FOREIGNERS"

Well, okay. You're in luck.

 

6. "I DON'T LIKE BEING POWERLESS"

There's only one thing we can do about any of this. Our current electoral system has brought about the situation where every party has triangulated its position to appeal to the tiny percentage of voters who actually have any power, and who happen to mostly populate the right-wing, authoritarian end of the spectrum.

If our electoral system actually represented the wishes of the people who go out and vote, there'd be no need for all the parties to pander to the same tiny minority, because everyone's vote would count for something. (At present, between 65% and 80% of General Election votes are meaningless and worthless.) Parties could stand for what they – and much of the public – actually believes in.

If you like things the way they are, that's fine. Vote for the status quo, and just pray that you never fall through one of the cracks into the dark, desperate, land that is the hidden underworld of poverty in modern Britain. Because once you're in there, the odds against ever getting back out are stacked higher than you can imagine.

On the other hand, if you'd like your voice to be heard, you know what to do. Let's give them alarms AND surprises.

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11 Responses to “They don't, they don't speak for us”

  1. Bertand Russell's comments on the fallacy of the nuclear deterrent was largely based on your above comments about an "unknown future" but with added logic to it. The logic being that any policy that is based on the threat of genocidal war, ultimately, will result in genocidal war. Which I think is a very rational argument from a very rational thinker. In fact we were probably quite *lucky* to avoid nuclear war in the 60s, it was basically a roll of the dice.

  2. "if in Cameron's deranged fantasy world China did ever want to attack the UK , its huge physical size and enormous population could easily absorb the detonation of the UK's entire operational nuclear arsenal on its territory and barely register a scratch."
    have you got any links to back that one up stu?

  3. Do the maths yourself. One sub's worth of missiles would barely register as a pinprick on China, given the relatively weedy size of a Trident warhead. Remember, the USSR absorbed 30 million deaths in WW2, and the utter destruction of vast tracts of its land. Your average Trident warhead is “only” going to devastate a single-figure handful of square miles – China’s land area is close to 4 million square miles, which is a bit like trying to destroy a tablecloth by stabbing at it with a hat pin.
    If we went for population centres rather than military targets we could certainly kill a lot of people, but what's China – short of people? I think we can safely assume the government that ordered the Tianenmen massacre would have a fairly relaxed attitude about sacrificing a few million civilians in the astronomically unlikely event that it ever went sufficiently insane to have military designs on Britain.

  4. Along with the weak punch, let's also not forget that China is hardly defenceless. And the absolute mess that would come of the midget punching the giant.
     
    And there are also the other points in this article which are spot on.

  5. xbendystevex Says:

    I still don't quite understand the argument that runs:

    You are not allowed to have nuclear weapons because we think you will use them and become a threat to world peace. If we think you are trying to get them, or have acquired them, then we are allowed to use our nuclear weapons (which you aren't allowed) on you, in the name of world peace.

    That just doesn't seem logical or moral to me. But I think every politician in the world should be forced to sit down and watch Threads. That should put them off nukes forever.

  6. Don't forget that we already turn a blind eye to countries that we're too scared to argue with when they obtain nukes and aren't meant to by the same rules. Such as India and Pakistan, both much bigger than us. There's also Israel who continue to enjoy an air of ambiguity surrounding their likely nuclear capability.

  7. True that the warhead yield is weedy in the mega-tonange range, but the MIRV system is designed to maximise kilotonnage. Basically a missile warhead fragments firing four or five 100kt  (for example) warheads in a pattern over a city. This has two advantages. Some of the warheads will get through if intercepted and you don't have to rely on mega-tonnage as the overlapping blast radius does the same job as a far bigger warhead. And although one megaton weapons are truly frightening, they usually only have enough punch to take out one city anyway – a lot of the energy gets wasted. Unless of course you're aiming at a densely populated country like Japan or – erk! – the UK, in which case about twenty would send us back to the stone age.
    The UK system isn't designed to obliterate, it's designed to make the post-attack damage unacceptable for the attacker. China would suffer far more casualties than a few millions, She'd probably lose at least half her cities and a good tenth of her population, adding another two tenths onto that through disease and starvation. It is an effective deterent.
    So should we still have it? Of course we shouldn't. We're not a world power anymore. We're only really holding onto them for that security council seat and because the French have them. Fear the French! Let's also mention the sickeningly dubious arguement politicians never actually state but always imply of nuking a country because a bunch of international extremists steal a bomb and use it on us, who's HQ happens to have a postcode in Durkastan.
    Nuclear weapons don't make us any more secure. Rather the reverse. But I don't doubt that they would cause major damage to China (but surmountable over twenty years or so) if used.

  8. I doubt we could kill 130 million Chinese with one Trident sub, but even if we could, having 90% of your population survive a nuclear war doesn't sound too awful from the point of view of anyone crazy enough to start one in the first place. (Especially when you’re a totalitarian government that can do pretty much whatever it likes.)

    Of course, as I've said, if China DID want to start a war against the UK for some fantasy-world reason, the first act of that war – before declaring it –  would surely be to sink the single patrolling Trident submarine. (And then maybe pop a couple of megatons over Faslane before we could get the others out.)
    All of which is fairly moot, because it's just about impossible to conceive of a situation where China attacked the UK – whether we had nukes or not – without it starting a world war.

  9. MojoJojo Says:

    10% of the population might not be much of a deterrent for a country willing to start a nuclear war, but if we didn't have a deterrent they wouldn't be starting a nuclear war. While Russia did survive losing 30 million or so people, they didn't exactly plan to.
    You also seem to miss the entire point of using nuclear subs as the deterrent. No one can preemptively destroy the sub because they don't no where it is. Unlike bombers or silo based systems.
    But yeah, it's a bit strange that no one is suggesting scrapping it.

  10. As I've said, they WOULD almost certainly be starting a nuclear war regardless of Britain's own armaments. Let's put it another way: can you genuinely envisage a situation where China could get away with nuking, say, Holland (no nuclear deterrent) without suffering nuclear retaliation from the West?

  11. I think that depends on whether or not we managed to get weed and other goodies legalised here and elsewhere first.

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