They don't, they don't speak for us
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?
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.