8 May 2015

The UK General Election - Victory for the 1%

There will be some extremely happy people in the UK today following the incredible and totally unexpected victory by the Conservatives that means that they can look forward to 5 years of Osborne and Cameron looking after their chums in the City, without even the slight moderating effect of Lib Dem coalition members like Vince Cable, the ex-Business Secretary, who lost his seat last night.

Those people are the 1% at the top.

How on earth did they manage it?

Well, one reason is the ability of the megarich to control much of the nation's press. With highly deformed reporting now standard in newspapers like the Sun and the Mail, it's hardly surprising that few Brits have a clue about what is really going on. And even the BBC and Guardian failed completely to report on the historic debate in Parliament last year that finally discussed the vital issue of Money Creation and Society.

Another reason is the ludicrous first past the post system for elections that they have in the UK.  The following table says it all.

Take the Scottish National Party that won 56 of the 59 parliametary seats in Scotland. They got those 56 seats in parliament with a total of 1 454 436 votes. That means that there is one MP for every 25 972 people who voted SNP.  The Conservatives got one seat in Parliament for every 34 244 voters. For Labour, there's one MP for every 40 290 voters.  That's not too bad.

Things already look much less favorable for people who voted Lib Dem. Each of the 8 remaining Lib Dem MPs has to represent over 300 000 voters.

But look at the representation of the UK Green Party. The 1.16  million people who voted for their policies only have 1 MP. And, Nigel Farage has even more grounds for being furious, because the 1 UKIP MP is supposed to rerpresent nearly 3.9 million people.

Indeed, if we compare the best represented voters (those who voted for Ulster's Democratic Unionist Party) with the worst represented ones (those who voted for UKIP), there is a ratio of 168:1. Can anyone really claim that this is a sensible and fair way to do things?  It is quite simply a travesty of democracy.

But the British voters really only have themselves to blame. They had a chance in 2011 to change the first past the post system, but blew it - 68% voted to keep the old system - thanks largely to a massive media campaign from the media, backed up by politicians from the main parties.

But for me, the other reason why the UK can look forward to 5 more years of slashing public services and privitisation of anything that moves is that Ed Miliband's Labour party had almost no interesting ideas in their program. Effectively, all they seemed to propose was a slightly watered down version of Osborne's austerity program. Sure, they would maybe do a little more to protect the National Health Service. But there was nothing in their program that could have challenged the status quo. They had none of the innovative ideas that the UK Green Party have been proposing, such as:
  • taxing financial transactions
  • removing the monopoly of commercial banks on creating money
  • introducing a Universal Basic Income
Now that Ed Miliband and Ed Balls are gone, would it be too much to hope that maybe the next generation of Labour leaders could actually wake up to the fact that the economic woes of the nation will never go away unless there are truly radical changes to the ways things work?

I certainly hope so. I haven't done the detailed maths, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if it turned out that a single candidate in each constituency that could combine votes from Green Party and Labour would have allowed the UK to avoid the curse of 5 more years of Cameron and Osborne. They would have already had over 10.4 million votes between them, to which you could reasonably add the 1.45 million who voted SNP.  And that would have been possible without even reforming the first past the post system.

Maybe there is hope. Unfortunately, the next window of opportunity has just got a lot further off. It's all very depressing.

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