Friday, March 01, 2013

UK politics: a wasteland of democracy

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The media are glibly talking of the "humiliation" variously of David Cameron (Independent) and the Conservatives (Telegraph), completely unconscious of the fact that the by-election result represented a humiliating defeat for the political class as a whole.

As Your Freedom and Ours points out, people are not turning out to vote for any of the candidates in any numbers. But, when the lead candidate goes to Westminster on the back of 17 percent of the electorate – not even one in five of the voters – that represents a crashing failure of the political class to take the people with them. 

But then, when we see Clegg stand alongside the new MP and proclaim "we overcame the odds", while The Times talks of a "stunning" victory, the nature of the problem becomes apparent. 

The great divide then yawns into a chasm when Lib-Dem party president, Tim Farron, claims: "This is a staggering result … it will be a turning point in this parliament and that we are in a position to win this seat completely changes the narrative of the parliament".

And while the voters delivered a majority of 1,771 for the Lib-Dems, it is interesting to note that aside from the Lib-Lab-Con-UK matrix, there were ten other parties in the field, including the Monster Raving Loony Party, which collectively polled 2,056 votes. 

Farage talks glibly about the Conservatives "splitting the UKIP vote", but there were over two thousand voters who thought more of the likes of the Beer, Baccy and Crumpet Party than they did of his offer, sufficient to deprive his candidate of a seat in Parliament. 

What is thus very, very clear from this result is that the politicians simply haven't got the message – any more than has the media. They are regarded, collectively, with a mixture of indifference and contempt, with party politics and voting in this country having become a minority preoccupation. 

The result today, therefore, is not a disaster, per se for Cameron and his Conservatives, as some would have it. It is a disaster for the flawed experiment in representative democracy, another nail in the coffin of a failed system. 

As for UKIP, the picture remains muddy. Your Freedom and Ours observes that their plan to become the third party after the Lib-Dims has fallen by the wayside by the latter's victory in Eastleigh. 

They cannot pretend that they are the second party in the country with no MPs and very few councillors. So, despite the undoubted rejoicing in the UKIP ranks and despite the nauseating plaudits that will be heaped on the Dear Leader, the fact remains: after 20 years and in the most propitious circumstances they remain in no-man's land. 

Increasingly though, this is becoming the "no-electors' land" – a wasteland of democracy. And the politicians can't even bring themselves to admit it.