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Hang on to your vote


Voters in for 'the shock of their lives'

Nothing that happened during this election has persuaded us that our call on people to hang on to their votes and instead focus on building the framework for a new political democracy in Britain was mistaken. In fact, quite the opposite.

As the campaign came to resemble a TV game show, it was clear that none of the major parties was prepared to admit that if elected to office they would have to make cuts in public spending on a scale that could easily destabilise society. Even when august bodies like the Institute for Fiscal Studies said as much, the conspiracy of silence persisted.

Little wonder then opinion pollsters found record levels of undecided voters who were unable to believe anything they had heard since the election was called. The turbulence in the polls equally reflected as the Independent’s Steve Richards put it, the fact that “a majority of voters yearn for a new way of conducting politics”.

There is no apparent enthusiasm for any party among those intending to vote today. Most people are voting against something rather than in favour of this set of policies. For example, some will vote New Labour to keep the Tories out even while admitting that Blair and Brown’s governments have pursued free market capitalist policies that even Thatcher shied away from in the 1980s.

Richards hopes that a hung parliament will enable the Liberal Democrats to exact proportional representation as the price for supporting either the Tories or New Labour if, as seems likely, no party wins an overall majority and there is a hung parliament. But PR wouldn’t even begin to solve the political crisis – in fact, it could even intensify it. In any case, it’s a distant prospect when more immediate issues are crowding in.

The ruling classes disassociate themselves from the crisis in Greece, saying that the British economy is far stronger and there is no risk of struggling to make the repayments on the equivalent of a £163 billion mortgage, which is the current size of the budget deficit. Yet at 11% of the value of the country’s annual production, Britain’s deficit is larger than Greece’s.

And keeping it under control presupposes a growth in the economy which is simply not there. Unemployment is rising and output is stagnant. The eurozone is in crisis following the near-default by Greece with German chancellor Angela Merkel declaring that the future of the European Union itself is at stake. A slump on the continent will take Britain down with it.

For the truth about what happens next, you have to turn to the bankers’ own newspaper, the Financial Times. As its weekend editorial declared: “Whichever party wins this election will need to sack public sector staff, cut their wages, slash benefits, reduce pensions and axe services. None, however, has deigned to explain that.”

It forecast that voters “are in for the shock of their lives – and will respond with fury when they learn the truth”, warning: “Their anger, moreover, will not be directed at bankers or bureaucrats. It will be aimed at the politicians who hid their plans from the public.” The FT even went so far as to claim that no party would be able to claim a mandate to cut the state because each had hidden the truth from the electorate.

So, not only has this election been a massive fraud on the electorate, there is no way out of the emerging political and financial crisis through the existing parliamentary system. A popular revolt is on the cards. The second half of our call – to start the campaign for People’s Assemblies to challenge and ultimately replace Britain’s failed state – is right on the money.

Paul Feldman
Communications editor
6 May 2010

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