You may not realise it but the UK is going through it’s now legally required 5-yearly general election. We, the British public, will be voting for the political parties in our local constituencies that we want to represent us in the House of Commons… a part of our democracy perhaps most closely aligned with the “Senate” in the US.
So… why is it going to be the BEST EVAR?
Let’s take a quick walk back in history, to 2010, the last UK General Election…
Post-crash and pre-recession the country was being led by Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Unlike the US the UK doesn’t elect it’s country’s head of it’s democracy (more on that later) and Gordon Brown inherited the role when Tony Blair stepped down and retired from the UK Parliament. Largely seen as a bit of an “odd chap” who didn’t seem sincere to the population in general, he squandered the last opportunity a sitting governing party in the UK would have to call an election on their own terms even though his party was looking good for a return to power if he dissolved parliament.
Then the crash happened, the Labour party led by Gordon Brown took the brunt of the blame for what was then happening with the British economy, mostly because Gordon Brown was the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the duration of his predecessor, Tony Blair’s, reign…making him very much the person responsible for the nation’s finances for over a decade.
This blew the election in 2010 wide open.
The public weren’t ready for the main opposition, the Conservatives (or Tories), but they didn’t want Labour in power any more. Despite what would happen later, it felt for many like a time for real change in the political landscape of the UK, and with that feeling came a surge of popular support for the third largest political party in the UK, the Liberal Democrats.
The Lib Dems were going to save democracy, clean it up, act more transparently…with a charismatic leader in Nick Clegg his party rose in the public opinion polling to perhaps even usurp Labour as the second placed political party in UK politics!
Instead though the polls belied one truth that is fairly constant in UK politics… the youth of the nation will say they want things to be better, but if they have to get out of bed to actually walk to a polling station to do it then maybe they’ll eat some day old pizza instead. The Lib Dem support that threatened to break open the two-party political system of the past simply didn’t turn up to vote.
The result was a Tory party with the most seats in parliament, but not enough to ensure that they could pass all the law they wanted. The Lib Dems had enough seats to, in coalition with the Tories, help them pass those laws. And so started the slow and painful death of mainstream liberal politics in the UK as liberal ideals gave way to helping David Cameron and his party restricting the benefits of those out of work or disabled while also lowering the taxes paid by the most rich in society, continuing much of the same work done by Labour in power before them.
Part of the deal for the Lib Dems to help the Tories out with their law passing, was that we’d all get a chance to vote on changing our voting system. In 2010 the Lib Dems gained 23% of all the votes case in the UK, yet only received less than 10% of the seats in parliament. Other parties got an even rougher deal as they got NO seats in parliament despite having enough popular vote share to suggest they should have a say in how the law of the land is made too.
Labour and Tories, two parties that together command somewhere around 90% of the House of Commons power despite only sharing about 70% of the nation’s popular vote, turned on the campaign for a fairer voting sytem. These two heavy hitters in turn helped the nation to make one of the stupidest decisions they have ever made by voting in a referendum to abandon the reform agenda.
“BUT WHY WILL IT BE THE BEST EVAR ELECTION NOW, IN 2015” I hear you screaming, exasperatedly?
The reality is that since 2010 no party has really shown itself to be more than a shower of career politicians and as such the public is truly divided on what to do. We’re facing a re-run of the 2010 election except with a much closer race between the two many parties, Labour and Tories. Close enough that no-one can actually predict who will win more seats by the time votes are counted tomorrow morning. Meanwhile in the decline of Lib Dem support since their general betrayal of the people that got them in to power, other parties have grown in stature to help take some more of the public popular vote share.
By the end of the vote count we could have a situation where the top two political parties hold almost 90% of the seats in the house of commons, despite only having the support of 60% of the country. Meanwhile a party called UKIP, a largely blundering and bigoted group of old fat white men masquerading as people concerned about the future of the country rather than a bunch of xenophobic sweaty misogynists looks set to be one of the main winners in public support.
However like the Lib Dems before them, their popularity (shudder) will not turn in to many, if any, seats at all in parliament. It is not unlikely that a collective 20% of the country could vote for people in this election today and not see any representation for their views in their national government!
Meanwhile though, that UKIP surge of support is taking away vital support from the Tories. Lib Dems and Green party support is taking away vital support from the Labour party. The irony here is that if these two parties had not pushed so hard against electoral voting reform, they may actually have been able to more comfortably win the election!
So… here’s to the best UK general election EVAR because… well… it’s a perfect encapsulation of everything that is wrong with British Democracy right now. The elite will keep hold of power in the face of diminishing support, new political views won’t be represented. Right now there are Tory party members on Twitter telling their party supporters to vote for the Lib Dems just to help keep Labour from winning seats…it’s a glorious horrible mess to behold.
This is what political chaos looks like…fingers crossed it means we can revisit that question of just how we do our democracy in this country again a mere 5 years after we squandered the last opportunity.
(This has been a political forum post by @Niaccurshi)