Well, there we have it, another UK General Election out of the way; and ultimately the "best" of the two likely candidates for the job of Prime Minister, now firmly back in 10 Downing Street, ready to commit this country to yet another 5 years of ideological tinkering, tampering and change. Personally, I have never had a very high opinion of David Cameron as a national political leader, as in my opinion, he is entirely a product of his class, an entitled rich kid who believe that he was and is destined for great things, including the running of our country, through which he can create a political, social and economic legacy that will last forever. Like I said, David Cameron was probably the "best" of the two likely candidates for the post of Prime Minister at the General Election, only being marginally better than his opponent Ed Miliband, although to my own way of thinking, having to choose at all between the two, is a bit like asking the British people to pick whether they want to be poisoned or shot, which isn't much of a choice really!
Political personalities aside however, the most important thing that I will take away from this particular election campaign is not only the absolute absurdity of Britain's First-Past-The-Post voting system, which has once again helped to disenfranchise millions of voters, but also the possibly conspiratorial, questionably legal and outright biliousness of some parts of it, which would have done credit to some of the most undemocratic and vile electoral systems in the world.
To illustrate the initial point on FPTP, the final electoral outcome has the Conservative with 37% of the popular vote, which gives them 331 seats in the House of Commons, Labour comes next with 31% of the vote and 232 seats, the SNP achieved 5% of the vote and gets 56 seats, then there's the Liberal Democrats with 8% of the popular vote, for which they get 8 parliamentary seats. However, when you then look at the popular vote for the United Kingdom Independence Party, or UKIP, they attracted around 13% of the popular vote, but only managed to get 1 parliamentary seat, which by any stretch of the imagination cannot be fair. It has already been estimated that under a proper proportional representation (PR) system, UKIP's share of parliamentary seats would have been around 83, clearly a massive increase on the derisory single seat, which has in effect left nearly 4 million UKIP voters without any sort of meaningful representation in this country's parliament. Call it "sour grapes", or whatever you will, but it cannot be right that another minor party Plaid Cymru attracted around 1% of the total popular vote in the UK wide elections, yet gets 3 times the representation of UKIP, which had 13 times the number of voters!
Clearly the question remains whether or not David Cameron and his Conservative Party have any real incentive to introduce a much more equitable Proportional Voting System, as along with Labour, they benefit directly from the existing FPTP electoral system. It's worth making the point of course that it isn't just UKIP that has been disadvantaged by our archaic FPTP voting system. The Green Party attracted nearly one million votes in the General Election, yet were only rewarded with a single MP, meaning that their supporters were similarly penalised by the system, leaving them too with little or no practical political representation in the House of Commons. Under the much more commonly used D'Hondt System of Proportional Representation, applied throughout most of Europe and some of our own devolved regional assemblies, the allocation of parliamentary seats would have been much more equitable to everyone, excepting of course the two big British political parties, Conservative and Labour, who benefit directly from the much less representative FPTP system.
However, just to illustrate the point, under D'Hondt, the Conservatives would have won approximately 250 seats, Labour around 200, the Liberal Democrats 50, UKIP 83, The SNP 25, The Greens 23 and so on, giving us a House of Commons that was truly reflective of the national mood and of the British people's views. As to whether or not we'll ever get that truly representative elected chamber anytime soon is unclear, as that would require brave political leadership, which I personally do not believe David Cameron is capable of. In common with previous Conservative and Labour leaders my instinct is that he will always choose to put PARTY before PEOPLE and on that basis alone he has no incentive to bring real representative democracy to our country.
The other great defining aspect of the recent General Election; and of other recent electoral campaigns in the UK, has been the actual tone and content of them, in terms of who and what is being discussed, as opposed to the promises and pledges being made by the various competing parties. I have to say that in my own personal opinion, this most recent General Election campaign has been the dirtiest, most negative, intimidatory, vile and dishonest that I can ever recall and most of it conducted through the mediums of our social media, national broadcasters, daily newspapers and mass mailshots. According to research carried out by a number of academics, by far the worst political party for negative campaigning was the Labour Party, followed by the Conservatives, although polling by ITV has also suggested that the Tory campaign was seen to be dirtier and more negative than Labour's, by over 30% of those who were asked, as opposed to 20% for Labour.
Ridiculous scaremongering, verbal abuse, physical attacks, damage to property, libellous and slanderous remarks, disruption, marches, stalking, intimidation, threats, fraud and outright lies have all been a feature of this most recent electoral campaign, with the police and the electoral authorities most noticeable by their absence. Whilst the Conservatives and Labour parties have traded blows with one another over the vexatious topics of policy, personal attributes and potential future political partnerships, the very worst, almost universal bile, hate and condemnation has been levelled by virtually all other parties towards UKIP, its members, supporters and representatives. Dozens of its offices have been damaged, thousands of its posters and hoardings have been destroyed, defaced or removed, its activists have been insulted, abused and attacked, while at the same time their personal lives and activities have been minutely scrutinised for evidence of potential wrongdoing; and where it doesn't exist, has even been invented. It is a remarkable achievement by any stretch of the imagination that any mainstream British political party, which has been so viciously attacked, demeaned, lied about, scrutinised, misrepresented and undermined has still managed to survive to become the third force in our national political life. Standing third in over 300 parliamentary seats, second in 120 constituencies and with only a single MP to represent the 4 million people who voted for its policies, if nothing else UKIP stands as a reminder of the derisory state of British politics at present, something that we should all be complaining about.
As has been previously mentioned in this blog, in "Vote Labour: Vote For The Mob:" activist groups such as HnH, UAF, SWP and any number of other street mobs, funded in part or in whole by central government, larger political parties and the trade union movement, have been employed to both disrupt and damage UKIP's political campaign and reputation, using whatever means necessary to get the job done. Although one recognises that politics is a rough old game; and as the expression goes, "if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen", we now seem to have entered a period of British politics, where what few rules that did exist to modify people's worst behaviour, are now routinely ignored by the press, the broadcasters, the parties themselves and perhaps more worryingly by the relevant enforcement authorities. The fact that one of the most notable anti-UKIP activists has publicly proclaimed that they and their cohorts can say what they want, do what they want and act like they want, because they are not formally affiliated to the Labour Party, or the Trade Union movement is perhaps typical of the mindset of such anarchic activists, whose only concern is what they think, what they want, what they want to do; and pretty much screw everybody else! Is that really the sort of democratic country that their paymasters in the Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat parties, or the Trade Union movement want to live in?
More depressing though is the fact that the country's principle broadcaster, which purports to transmit democracy to those parts of the world where none exist, can unilaterally decide which British political party's message it will broadcast to the nation, without any sort of independent oversight being in place. Even though UKIP was awarded "major" party status by the UK's national communications ombudsman, OFCOM, giving it parity with the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties, the BBC unilaterally took the decision that such parity would only exist in terms of Party Election Broadcasts, as opposed to the wider electoral coverage that was offered to the Conservative and Labour parties. One could easily have been forgiven for thinking that UKIP had become a wholly "invisible" party as far as the BBC were concerned, with little if any airtime given to its representatives, or indeed to its manifesto, which was widely regarded as being one of the party's most important assets. It is an absolute scandal that a clearly defined major British political party, which was routinely attracting double digit support in the country and that had decisively won the previous years European Elections with around 27% of the popular vote, was denied coverage by Britain's principle broadcaster, which is after all both paid for and supposedly accountable to that very same British electorate.
The BBC's obvious political bias and its largely undisclosed European funding aside however, perhaps the greatest "crime" that was committed during this recent General Election campaign was the implied threat of a future Labour government being held hostage by a Scottish insurgent force, in the shape of the SNP. Now, while holding no sympathy for either party, it seems to me that there was a concerted effort by both the Conservative Party and its tame Tory press to not only promote this perceived political threat individually, but also in concert, in an almost conspiratorial fashion, which for me as a voter was little sort of an exercise in anti-democratic propaganda, facilitated by like-minded individuals, with little concern for the wider public good.
After all, wasn't it the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties that actually created the Scottish parliamentary system that has allowed the SNP to grow and to thrive; and now they complain about its unhealthy influence on British political life? What sort of message does that send to Scottish nationalist voters, that they can achieve a breakthrough in Britain's national political life, only to have it snatched away through the underhanded machinations and scaremongering of the Conservative Party, whose sole intention was to spread fear and despair through the entire electorate, using the SNP as the bogeyman with which to undermine the Labour Party's electoral campaign.
That isn't to say that Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond didn't enthusiastically encourage the lie, but almost entirely for their own selfish reasons. What better way to win a second Scottish Independence Referendum than for them to make the case that the British (or English) political system is completely skewed against the Scottish nation and its people, which is exactly the argument that David Cameron's Conservatives have now helped them to make. Perhaps ultimately Mr Cameron's most lasting political legacy to the United Kingdom, will be as the principle architect of its actual destruction, thus bringing an end to a 300-year-old Union that most people are not that bothered about any more?
Generally speaking I have no doubt that David Cameron considers himself to be a decent and honourable man, as do most of the other 650 people who will shortly take their places in the House of Commons and set themselves the task of governing the country for the next 5 years. However, its worth asking the question, just how many of those supposedly honourable members have given their tacit or explicit approval for their supporters, agents and activists to lie, steal, misrepresent, fraudulently accuse, criminally damage, verbally abuse, or physically attack their political opponents, on their way to achieving their exalted status. It's easy to understand why even this most recent "generational" election, an estimated 40% of the electorate, those entitled to cast their ballot, ultimately chose to refuse the right to elect a possible liar, election-fiddler, fraudster, forger, drunk, extremist, sex-pest, wife-beater, expenses-cheat, or whatever other wrongdoing that a fair proportion of the members of that august house will have been involved in.
Having achieved 37% of a 60% turnout David Cameron is without doubt the winner of the election and has the right to be declared the democratically elected leader of the UK, by virtue of the fact that the biggest minority voted for him. However, he doesn't speak for me personally, as I didn't vote for him or his party. Along with 4 million other people Douglas Carswell MP speaks for me, as he represents what I believe in, what I voted for and what I would like to see for my country. Whether or not David Cameron and his Conservative Party can live up to his pledge of governing for the entire country, we'll wait and see, but I won't be holding my breath over it!