So, in case you were unaware, on Thursday we had some elections. The whole of the UK had elections for the European Parliament, and most of England had elections for local councils as well.
Just take a few minutes to look at this link to the results. They are very disappointing.
By far the biggest gains and holds are Labour – they gained more than twice as many seats as the second-biggest gainer, and now hold more seats than the Tories, Lib-Dems, Greens and UKIP combined. For actual councils, Labour hold twice as many as the Tories, and more than those controlled by other parties (or with no overall control) combined.
Why is this disappointing? Surely massive gains for a party that was founded to support the rights and welfare of workers, at the expense of massive losses for the ruling elitist, privately-educated, landowning, giving-blowjobs-to-big-business-for-money coalition is a good thing, right?
Well, if you actually look at Labour’s record over the last 20 years (that’s right, 20 years. Not the 4 years since they lost power, not the 6 years since the recession kicked-in, not the 17 years since they were elected in 1997, but the 20 years since Tony Blair became leader), they haven’t actually done all that much to support the rights and welfare of workers. They have followed the same corrupt and broken neoliberal economic ideology as the Tories and Lib Dems, and at times were just as enthusiastic about applying it as their “opposite parties”. They became New Labour, distancing themselves from their roots and actual workers, and in recent years have actually collaborated with the Coalition to pass retroactive legislation to make inhumane and broken government legislation legal (but do nothing about fixing it or making it humane). So, while, in theory massive Labour gains are a good thing, no-one with any real political literacy will hold out much hope.
Another disappointment is the poor performance of the Greens. In the absence of an actual workers’ party, they are actually the ones who most support workers’ rights and welfare, and have a metric fuckton of sensible policies. To the best of my knowledge, almost everyone I and my sister know voted Green. And yet they only gained 16 seats – nearly doubling their numbers, yes, but still a piffling result. Under this country’s antiquated and not-fit-for-purpose first-past-the-post electoral system, they are the only non-establishment party with a snowball-in-Hell’s chance of getting into power next year. They already have one seat in the Commons, but have received almost no media coverage. Given the imbalance of coverage towards fringe parties, the Greens would probably have a good case for bringing legal action against major organs of the press, particularly the BBC, for ignoring them.
The biggest disappointment, however, is the rise of UKIP. They were the second-biggest gainer, grabbing 161 seats, and now holding 163. They don’t control any councils, fortunately. UKIP was founded in the early 90s as a single-issue left-leaning party, but after the general election of 1997 they became much more right-wing, and the founder left in disgust. Currently UKIP have no official policies, no MPs, a profoundly bigoted and irrational pool of candidates, and extremely fascist tendencies. Their propaganda is overwhelmingly right-wing, and echoes the way Germany became Nazi Germany. Simply replace Europe/Europeans with Jews/Communists and none of UKIP’s posters would look out of place in 1933 Nuremburg. And why have they made such huge gains? Because they have a hyperactive publicity machine. The few policies they have actually stated are more extreme versions of the ones currently planned by the Tories (ie. authoritarian ultra-capitalist bullshit turned up to 11), and somehow they have managed to convince a lot of people that they are still the left-leaning democratic libertarian party described in their constitution. Despite their obvious bigotry, complete lack of MPs, and their bully-boy tactics against anyone who dares to call them out on their hypocrisy, they have had just as much media coverage as the three main parties – and have been on the BBC’s Question Time programme more often in the last year than anyone except the host. That is not what I’d call fair and balanced coverage.
So, yeah. Sanity only just still rules, but it is getting harder by the day. The mass media, particularly the BBC, need to do their job properly and offer all the information available equally. The Green party need to pump up their media machine, and we all – everyone, you, me, your neighbours, the man in the street and his dog – need to go out and campaign and make people more politically literate. Things won’t change except for the worse if things keep going the way they are. We need to effect real change, from the bottom-up and the top-down. If the only way to do that is by bloody revolution, then so be it, but I would prefer the means of change to be legal. If UKIP gain any actual power, or the Tories and their Lib-Dem lapdogs manage a second term in office, or Labour doesn’t go back to its’ roots before returning to power, then bloody revolution might become the only realistic option.