Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Sleazeballs of the World Unite

As I previously stated on this blog I haven't thus far allowed myself to get carried away in the debate over Alternative Voting. I cast a "Yes" vote by post and have made a couple of comments in support, but until this morning it was not something that had taken centre stage in my list of priorities.

This morning a document arrived through my letter box that changed that all.

The "No" campaign has brought together the Conservatives and the larger part of the Labour Party who, despite the differences that may appear to exist between them on the surface, have managed to gel seamlessly into a united front for the preservation of their own cosy little carve-up in which the input of the general public into the political process is retained at the scantest level possible whilst still being able to maintain the charade that we live in a democracy.

The no-expense-spared glossy issued by the "No" campaign contrasts markedly with the modest, two-colour A4 sheet issued by the "Yes" group. But the real contrast lies in the depths to which the "No" campaign has been prepared to plunge in order to con the public into voting for the maintenance of their privileged, lazy lifestyles. Thus the contempt that the establishment parties have for the wit and intelligence of the voters upon whose continued support they ostensibly depend in opened up for all to see.

Typically the hook upon which the "No" campaign hangs is money. Not only are establishment politicians themselves obsessed by money, but they assume the general public is also. Pursuing the lie that AV will cost the county £250m to implement, they point out that this amount could provide 2503 doctors, 6297 teachers, 8107 nurses, 35885 hip replacements or 69832 school places.

Putting to one side for the time being the fact that these are annual costs whereas the £250m that is alleged to be the cost of converting to AV - even if it were true, which it isn't - would be a one-off cost, what do really think the chances are that this government will take on all these doctors, nurses or teachers with the money it "saves" from a "No" vote?

Much more likely it will end up in the pockets of the bankers or the non-dom, tax-avoiding fat cats so beloved of the party in power as the rest of us continue to tighten our belts whilst being reassured that "we are all in this together".

One could just as easily ask, of course, just how many teachers and nurses we could be taking on with the money we are wasting prosecuting a dishonest war in Libya, occupying Afghanistan or maintaining a nuclear "deterrent".

Then we are asked to consider the unpopularity of AV and the fact that it is only used in a few countries worldwide, with the inference contained therein that the rest of the world operates First Past The Post.

It doesn't, of course. Much if not most of the world enjoys some form of real proportional representation. But we are debating AV, not PR, precisely because David Cameron was not prepared to have a referendum on anything other than AV and Nick Clegg was, frankly, too weak to call his bluff when the coalition deal was being agreed. Now Clegg is being ridiculed by David Cameron, amongst others, for seeking approval for a voting system that David Cameron foisted upon him! You just couldn't make it up, could you?

But without doubt the most pernicious argument of all appears on the back page of the glossy, under the heading "AV Leads to Broken Promises" alongside a photo of Nick Clegg holding up a placard containing the promises he broke over student fees when he entered into coalition with the Tories. Remember it the Tories, more than anybody else, who are supporting the campaign that has produced and is circulating this glossy leaflet. The Tories are publicly ridiculing Clegg, their own coalition partner, for sacrificing his own credibility in order that they might realise their political objectives.

I dearly hope the general public has the foresight and the intelligence to see beyond the gloss, the spin, and the combined unscrupulousness of the two big vested political interests who have carved up the political process between them in this country and whose self-serving spin machines have for the time being at least come together to try to pull off one gigantic confidence trick against the very people in whose name they purport to govern. But if the self-serving vested interests do succeed, I hope even more dearly that the Lib Dems will take stock of the situation, understand that they have been had, and do something about it very quickly.

There would, after all, be nothing left for them in continuing to support a coalition partner that sets them up and stabs their backs so shamelessly and so publicly whilst pursuing a neo-Thatcherite political programme in government that depends entirely upon Lib Dem support.

This has to be make or break time for Nick Clegg, and I wish him well.

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