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Vote For… Who? April 11, 2010

Posted by markswill in About me, Politics, Schmolitics.

So at last the election process is officially underway. I’ve voted in most British elections during the last thirty years – before that I was hippie, then a closet anarcho-capitalist (go figure) – but I’m not sure if I’ll bother this time or if I do, who’ll get my vote. Abdicating one’s democratic rights by not voting is a mantra bleated by political parties large and small, but I share the disillusion of many when I say that whoever wins will make little or no difference to the common good, and certainly not my own situation.

Why? Well the sheer scale of the financial deficit the incoming government have to deal with in my view renders arguments about which services might be cut, which taxes might have to rise and consequently how many jobs will be lost as facile waffle. To mop up £160billion of red ink on the national balance sheet will require a substantial change in the way the country’s economy is run and none of the political parties are being honest about it for fear of striking even more anguish into the hearts and minds of the electorate than already resides there. And it is this failure to fess up that cements my disillusion with our arrogant servant-masters in Parliament Square, both current and future.


This isn’t just a consequence of the expenses and bribery scandals, nor the arrogance of a Labour government that took us into two futile, costly and geo-politically damaging wars on bogus premises despite overwhelming public protest. No, my main disillusion is with a political system that is a) designed to cocoon those who decide to clamber up its slippery pole from the economic and moral realities that beset the rest of us, and b) is, frankly impotent.

Taking my last point first, we as a nation are in thrall to the European Union and such laws as the UK can implement unilaterally are mainly on the parliamentary periphery. Fully three quarters of new legislation in the UK comes from unelected Brussels bureaucrats and since the European Economic Community as was came into being, over 100,000 new laws have been imposed on us by that body… over twice those made by the sovereign UK government during the same period. Moreover our net balance of payments in favour of the EU currently runs at some £60billion, with an almost similar bill for the cost of EU-imposed red tape. Apart from UKIP and the BNP, who for their other, variously racist policies I could not vote for, no political party will admit to this neo-totalitarian absurdity, and indeed I must ruefully acknowledge that some of the cultural benefits of living where I do are due to subsidies handed out from the EU coffers… even if we put the money there in the first place. But the reason our politicians do not challenge, at least publicly, the omniscient power of the EU takes me back to my first point.


Most modern politicians are self-serving. They whine about public service, but reading the CVs of most of the current candidates – or at least the sanitised versions delivered to the media – they overwhelmingly come from relatively privileged backgrounds (Bullingdon Club, anyone?), few of them have ever held a job outside politics and so even if we took their fine words at face value, how could they know what it actually feels like to be working class, to be poor, or to have to support, school or keep a family healthy on an average, let alone a minimum wage? As one time editor of a local newspaper and more recently a campaigner on (admittedly generally unpopular) rights of way issues, I’ve had quite a lot of firsthand exposure to politicians both local and national and I’m afraid to say their overwhelming responsibility is not to those who elected them, but to staying elected, staying aboard the gravy train. Oh, and by the way, exploiting public fear is a dandy way of doing that.

Okay, there’s going to be less gravy sloshing around for the next few years, but as we edge towards the one-party state that the EU is slowly but inexorably herding us into, they as a breed can look forward to jobs for life and pensions to match… providing of course they don’t rock the boat. So with the aforementioned exceptions, no politician does. Indeed this was arguably set in stone in 1971 when the Foreign Office circulated a document, FCO 30/1048, to all MPs which stated that there was “a major responsibility on HMG and on all political parties not to exacerbate public concern by attributing unpopular measures nor unfavourable economic developments to the remote and unmanageable working of the Community.” (Now the EU).

Please don’t cast me as a little Englander railing Canute-like against the tide of onerous, freedom-sapping legislation from across the channel or the waves of immigrants from poorer EU countries that Daily Mail readers are so fond of blaming for all our economic ills (that responsibility truly resides with bankers and Gordon No-More-Boom-and-Bust Brown), for I love the rich and varied cultures of continental Europe and hugely enjoyed my years working there.


But just as county councilors and their executive staff  benefit from the funding handed to them by national government and, increasingly, the EU to feather their nests (if not their duck houses), then so too do all national MPs and their subordinate, mushrooming quangocracy who are already and will in future be increasingly dependent on Brussels for their livings. In other words, none of them will or even could make any tangible difference to our daily lives, at least not in a benign or constructive way.

So who to vote for, if at all? Well if they still existed, I reckon Monster Raving Loony would be the way to go. But they don’t, so I think I shan’t.

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1. Martin Craig - April 11, 2010

Well – you only vote once every five years, so why not vote for the best?

My party are committed towards delivering a step-change in evidence-led outcome-focussed frontline services funded entirely through efficiency savings and natural wastage. We are passionate about early wins and key deliverables. We will work with our European counterparts towards harmonisation across all sectors.*

*Our Europe-wide Strategic Scrappage Scheme will be extended to encompass the compulsory confiscation and breaking-up of all vehicles over 5 years old. Our pilot programme in Wales is currently gathering data on all existing vehicles in the ‘L’ category (Lancia, Laverda, etc). The full strategy will be rolled out in 2011.

We are working upstream on a raft of new measures, under one umbrella and holding a basket of indicators. It is the right thing to do.

markswill - April 12, 2010

Very interesting Martin. Fortunately I am going to drive my Lancia into a brick wall at high speed so that I can live out the rest of my days on the generous incapacity benefits and pensions that our government so generously awards its citizens, especially immigrants. Oh, and by the way, did I mention that whilst on holiday to Iran last year (wind-surfing up the Persian Gulf…. again), I became a citizen of that fine country and converted to Islam?

2. Pete - April 12, 2010

The process of Government seems to corrupt and paralyse every party as soon as they are in power. The Emperor’s not wearing any clothes – apart from a straight-jacket.

If nobody voted would all the candidates lose their deposits? Then one could repeat again and again until candidates came up with commitments and action that finally meant something.

markswill - April 12, 2010

Brilliant idea Pete. You should be running the country!

Pete - April 13, 2010

Ever your humble servant… When should I start? The post of Transport minister could be yours but I must first consult my shadow Cabernet.

3. Paul N. Blez - April 12, 2010

I’m sure I can’t be alone in wanting to see Vince Cable as chancellor of the exchequer in the next government. Yet I’m somewhat uncomfortable about the Liberals’ fanatically pro-EU stance, for all the reasons you state, Mark. When I voted ‘Yes’ to us staying in the ‘Common Market’ way back in 1975, I really didn’t think that this would lead to Romania, Bulgaria and probably Turkey joining the European Union a few decades later.
Can’t help liking the UKIP leader either…..despite my greater liking for Europe and all my friends in France, Germany, Switzerland etc.
I SHALL be voting, and hoping fervently for a well-hung parliament!

markswill - April 13, 2010

Like you Paul, I’m warming to UKIP (they currently have a poster saying ‘Sod Them All’) and I heard this afternoon that one of their manifesto commitments is to allow pubs to have smoking rooms… should they wish to. (As per one of my previous blogs, ‘A Smoking Glum’, Feb 16th). However there is about as much chance of them holding sway as there is of the admittedly very excellent V. Cable becoming chancellor (although he is a bit of a loose cannon, party-line-wise). No, thanks to Mary Pope’s recent intelligence (see below), it’s is after all Monster Raving Loony for me.

4. WTK - April 12, 2010

Mark, this is one of the finest rants about government that I’ve read. You could replace UK with US and EU with UN and it would be just as valid ind insightful.

Just crank up the numbers a bit, as Mr. Barack “Empty Suit” Obama has managed to increase the deficit of “Knucklehead Bush” from $800 billion to a projected $13.5 TRILLION. Yes, trillion. (It comes after gazillion-shmillion, I think.) Hmmm, the bureacrats spend my money without due representation, then levy more fees and taxes each year so they can spend even more. Makes sense…

Oh, one other thing: as a New Yorker, I get to pay local taxes (not Federal/IRS) to support the UN to the tune of $370 million per year in NYC, just so the miscreant diplomats can run over pedestrians, park where they will, and move cash in diplomatic satchels.

If you think about the corruption, abuse of power, unconstitutional legislation, court-induced social engineering, and the general lack of intelligent and trustworthy legislators, you may well then understand the nature of the Tea Party movement, the Black Panthers, SDS, the Weathermen, and the initial Colonists that gave the King the boot.

The Governed Twenty-First Century is not a pretty picture…anywhere.

5. Martin Craig - April 12, 2010

Assalamu alaikum. You’re excused from voting. Excellent political analysis btw, far better than most of the toadying columnists riding on the same gravy train would dare to write.

Just heard that NuLab plan to ‘strengthen the middle class’. As Lenny Bruce said, “If the Venusians aren’t scufflers, we’re screwed.”

May the wind always fill your surfboard’s sail, insh’Allah.

6. colin higgins - April 13, 2010

Politics is, like professional football, television and The Art World, best seen from a distance and in the abstract lest the scales fall from our eyes too smartly. The election is as authentic a tussle as professional wrestling – we become those old ladies swinging handbags at Jackie Pallo and Mick McManus in a crumbling town hall, imagining a sweaty fat bloke (or bird) represents our highest aspirations. You gotta larf.

Put a cross somewhere, enjoy the swingometer and stay as far away from the blighters as possible for another four years.

7. Old Hack - April 13, 2010

Agree with virtually everything written here – except the comment about there being less gravy about.
The gravy will slosh around in the EU (and Westminster) trough as thick and bountiful and meaty as ever – paid for by us proles through ever increasing taxes. The politicos will continuie to live their life of Riley because – short of a peasants’ revolt – there is absolutely nothing we can do to stop them..

Martin Craig - April 13, 2010

Good point about a peasants’ revolt. The elite is far wider than just politicos; it’s the CEOs, bankers, NHS managers (look at how their salaries have rocketed under Labour, compared to those of nurses) and, not least, town hall bosses. Oh, and the media folk who back off when they could have had these people bang to rights (Hutton, Butler, Baby ‘P’) etc.

It’s the promise that, once you’re on the inside, the gravy will flow forever as long as you stay on message, deny everything and stay in line until you collect your fat pension that keeps this train a-rollin’. Derailing it would take, as you say, a peasants’ revolt & revolting peasants do love blowing up trains, it’s what they do best!

8. mary - April 13, 2010

Actually the monster raving loonies are standing in Brecon and Radnor in the person of Lord Offa of the Dykes – so you will be able to vote after all.

Anyone who’d go about collecting the £100 billion in avoided tax, the £30 billion in uncollected tax, put up taxes on the rich till the pips squeak – lets say 90% on all income over £200,000 for a start, cancel trident and stop trying to pretend that it’s ‘overfunded’ public services which have caused the crisis (try telling that to the schools in this consituency facing closure fo example) – would get my vote.

markswill - April 13, 2010

This is fantastically good news Mary! I shall Google Lord Offa immediately and he’ll almost certainly have my vote.

9. Pete - April 13, 2010

This may be a slightly unpopular apologist stance but Britain does have an odd relationship with the rest of Europe. Some like the people but don’t like the laws. Some mock the Euro whilst treasuring the anorexic Pound. Some see Europe as a fixed group of countries whilst others see it as an organic entity that can embrace its neighbours. Brits moan about the laws and yet are quick to implement the legislation, throwing together new departments to monitor and enforce them with embarrassing speed. Do we protest in vigorous style like the French? No. Do we sprint for the European Court of Human Rights when somebody plays knock-down-ginger on our door… More likely.

As you have pointed out Mark, lots of organisations benefit from European funding (not a few local Arts bodies amongst their number). A couple of other examples – European money now subsidises the ferry system in the Western Isles of Scotland. The new Road Equivalent Tariff has substantially reduced fares and this has a great democratising effect allowing the less well off to travel more easily. The broadband we in isolated parts of Wales use (for so much of our displacement activity) was made possible by Euro dosh. Again, a democratic lift for rural communities. I wonder though, if we had just given it to the UK government would it have flowed back in the way it has? And if we gave it to UKIP? Mwahhahahahahaa….!

No. your point was well made. It doesn’t matter which government we have, Uk or Euro, there will always be self-serving politicians queuing up to sit in the comfy chairs of power. Maybe I’m less inclined to knock Europe but I’m pretty certain that it is no worse than what the UK can and will inflict on itself especially if Monsieur Cameron gets in.

10. markswill - April 13, 2010

Yes, we do have an ambiguous relationship with the EU and its benefits not least, as I originally pointed out, in respect of the funds we benefit from culturally hereabouts. But since we are net contributors to EU funds rather than recipients, there is some reason to suppose that if we withdrew our membership then we would have even more money to spend on such things. Note however that I say ‘some’ reason: I cynically realise that with politicians of ANY stripe in control, that might not be inevitable. Indeed I liked your earlier suggestion that we should all not vote at all until enough lost deposits and re-runs forced the candidates to do what we wanted and what is required. But that, too, might be a pipe dream.

11. Old Hack - April 14, 2010

I think you have the makings of a sound political party here Williams…!
Bags I head the radical wing, round-up the peasants and blow-up the gravy train

12. Alex Dufort - April 16, 2010

My attention span was 3 minutes, then I changed channels. US TV debates are cozy conversational affairs, and make a contrast with the vastnesses of congress. Our parliament is much smaller than congress, and these parliamentary style TV debates did not contrast with Westminster in any way. Like watching paint dry.

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