Just a quick conversation starter while I’m out the back cutting wood. The UK general election, to be held in ten days’ time, could be a watershed in western politics, not just the British variety. Or it could be yet another business-as-usual fizzer.
You all know where I stand on this—not that my opinion as a foreigner counts for much. My principal criterion is the extent to which parties support the Liberty of the individual, and willing subservience to a foreign power is hardly a good start on the road to achieving that end.
I have sat through the leaders’ debates on ITV (2nd April) and BBC (two weeks later), and have to say I am quite disheartened at the level of public support most of them have appeared to have garnered. Personally, I believe the UK Independence Party offers Britain the best chance of extricating itself from the political, economic and social disaster that the EU experiment has become. Britain has handcuffed herself to a drowning man, and Nigel Farage alone is frantically waving the key, hoping to attract the attention of his countrymen, who appear to perceive that drowning man as some kind of lifeboat.
The other parties offer little more than business as usual. David Cameron is not a conservative, either in the upper-case or lower-case meaning of the word. His “conservatism”, such as it is, amounts to little more than a sense of social propriety. An admirable trait to have in your next-door neighbour or parish warden, but hardly the stuff of great statesmanship. He has bent whichever way the wind has blown, and shows little sign of ever changing.
Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, represents everything that is wrong with Britain today. It is obvious that he desperately wants to be seen as urbane, cultured and sophisticated. But he appears to have little time for what Britain is (or at least used to be). As far as principle is concerned, there seems to be little that he actually stands for. He is unaware there is a Commonwealth of nations out there; or if he is aware, it represents to him a mere embarrassing reminder of his country’s past as a colonial aggressor. He sees himself as a European first and foremost and, forgetting the past, is doomed to repeat it.
Milliband, the Labour leader, seems to me little more than a cardboard cutout. He is Tony Blair without the Joker-like evil toothy grin. At least with him and his party, you know what you are getting. More of the same, whistling in the eye of the coming storm.
Leanne Wood and Nicola Sturgeon, the leaders of Plaid Cymru and the Scottish Nationalist Party, are mere regional socialists, concerned only with grabbing a larger slice of the Westminster pie, irrespective of the fairness to English taxpayers or how indeed their clamourings for largesse must ultimately be paid for. Their vision does not extend beyond their own borders, though both will doubtless garner sufficient local support in response to their predictable dog-whistling to be around as mid-level forces the next time around.
The less said about the Greens leader, Natalie Bennett, the kinder it would be. She doesn’t even warrant the term “socialist”. She is a teenage anarchist, and not a very good one at that, as several muddle-headed interviews have amply demonstrated. She’s not even British! I suspect that even many committed environmentalists in Britain are embarrassed by her, and it is likely their vote will be down at this election.
The big problem you have in Britain, it seems to me, is your electoral system. Yes, I know I am sounding like a broken record here, but your first-past-the-post system was designed to cope with a two-party polity. The entry of even the Liberal Democrats into serious contention ensured numerous electorates were represented by candidates whose politics are emphatically rejected by a majority of constituents. When you are able to register only your first preference, and not your relative disaffection for alternative candidates, this is the inevitable result. The entry of UKIP into the equation (and the other parties, to a lesser extent) merely magnifies this inequality.
Now, this graph of opinion polls gives little indication of likely seats in the Commons after the election. Alternative voting, such as we have here in Australia, would mean the composition would be a lot closer to what you see here. Labour, by most expert reckoning, are likely to form government in coalition with at least one other party. It is highly unlikely that the Conservatives will be able to govern in their own right.
What all that means for Britain over the next few years is, their fate is going to be the same as Europe’s. I expect a lot of applications for emigration Down Under in the coming months.