Politicians spending an inordinate amount of time attempting to position their parties in the centre ground is probably one reason for the public’s lack of interest in politics in that they, especially the “swing voter”, are now confused – ie for which party should they vote as all three main parties appear alike. Coupled with that, following Eastleigh, there is also much talk about the protest vote and the general consensus of opinion is that this now appears to be benefiting Ukip, hence their increased support in the polls and at recent by-elections.
It is a source of amusement – to me at least – that politicians, who they are at great pains to assure us possess a level of intellect far in excess of we plebs, can spend so much time attempting to achieve the impossible. Just how can any party appeal to everyone, which is what presumably occupying the centre ground means? Such a course of action, even if it were achievable, is hardly going to affect the “tribalist voter”, is it? As some recent YouGov polling showed, someone can be “left-wing” where their views on the NHS are concerned, but decidedly “right-wing” where immigration is concerned.
Consider now the question of “protest votes” – could this not be considered a form of disenfranchisement for those so voting, in that they are forced to vote for a “rank-outside” party which barring a miracle has but a cat’s chance in hell of winning? Were that miracle to be achieved would they, those who registered a protest vote, really be happy with the candidate they had saddled themselves with?
Leaving to one side the “tribalists”, the remainder of the electorate are presented with a manifesto by each political party on which they probably agree with some points and vehemently disagree with others, thus being forced to vote for a party which can best be described as “the best of a bad lot”. Is this situation not another form of disenfranchisement? Can this situation, by any stretch of the imagination, be described as democracy?
Setting the previous paragraph to one side, consider the candidate for whom the electorate are being asked to vote. In most cases they have been selected from a list presented to their local political association – assuming of course the candidate has not been “parachuted in” – by a party’s head office. Even Ukip, a party that professes itself as being “libertarian” said to the voters of Eastleigh: “there you are, Diane James; if she wins, she is the person who will represent you in Parliament”. I make that point about Ukip because, from Wikipedia, we learn that being a libertarian encapsulates the wish to minimize coercion.
In her speech today at a Conservative Conference Theresa May said that her party should protect the people against “vested interests” – which is a tad ironic in that the group at the top of the list for those having vested interests are political parties, but I digress. There is so much in her speech on which I could comment but I leave readers to make up their own minds, to form their own opinions. On point I will pick-up on though is her assertion that public services should be free at the point of use. As during the last 52 years I have availed myself of the NHS on only 4/5 occasions, if I now use it, it is free at the point of use? Really?
Regular readers will have already realized where I am going with this post and they will not be surprised when I repeat that the system of democracy and politics, under which we are forced to live – only because the people have not, in turn, realized that they can change it if they wished – is one past its sell-by date and cries out to be consigned to the rubbish bin.
How our system of democracy can be changed – and to what – I will cover in a post on Monday
As I have written before – stay tuned……