Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Vote for 'none of the above'!

The spectre of a hung Parliament – where no party has an overall majority – is a possibility when the votes are counted after next year’s general election. It’s the last thing the ruling classes want and could open the door for quite a sinister development.

While the Tories remain ahead in the polls, their lead appears to be shrinking. Although they would probably emerge as the largest party, the Tories would not be able to form a majority government without the support of the Lib Dems. Nick Clegg, the Lib Dems’ leader, has already indicated his willingness to back the Tories rather than New Labour.

David Cameron’s New Tories need a swing bigger than the one that brought Thatcher to power in 1979 to win an outright majority. Winning an extra 117 seats would, for example, leave the Tories with an overall majority of just one. With virtually no support in Scotland or Wales, winning a comfortable majority could prove an electoral mountain too high to climb.

For Philip Johnston, the Daily Telegraph’s home affairs editor, a hung parliament is a ”nightmare scenario”, one made more possible by the fact nearly 100 of the 646 MPs in Parliament are from parties other than the Tories and New Labour.

The cat was set among the pigeons last week by former Tory chancellor Ken Clarke, when he remarked: “I do think that in the middle of an acute national crisis a hung parliament would be one of the biggest disasters we could suffer … that would be a bigger danger than a Labour victory.”

Clarke was, of course, referring to the massive state debt resulting from bailing out the bankers, the unparalleled programme of public spending cuts that all the major parties are proposing, alongside rising unemployment, especially among young people and a deepening recession.

In the event of an inconclusive election, it is questionable whether financial markets, for example, would be willing to lend a weak government the £220 billion it needs to borrow next year. This could precipitate a run on the pound. As commentators have noted, the only lender remaining then would be the International Monetary Fund.

Why should we be bothered about all this? Well, an economic collapse that coincides with a political crisis is the recipe for a “government of national unity” – or a coalition of the three major parties. If this sounds like a wartime arrangement you would be right. Except on this occasion, the “enemy” would be public sector workers and those who use services. The living standards of the vast majority would be targeted in order to save capitalism at our expense.

As in wartime, a national government might find it necessary to “suspend” democratic rights to oppose what would amount to a Parliamentary dictatorship. No doubt the security service MI5 is compiling lists of people that might prove troublesome in such circumstances.

Of course, none of this may happen and a government with a working majority might result from the election. It would, of course, enjoy the support of the other parties as it inflicted the pain of the crisis on ordinary people. So one conclusion is – whatever way people vote, they are going to get it in the neck!

This undemocratic Parliamentary system is inherently incapable of acting in the interests of the majority of working people, however they vote. We need to extend democracy and reconstruct the state to take power out of the hands of the corporations and bankers if we are to solve the economic and financial disaster at their expense. There is, therefore, a strong case building for voting for “None of the Above” and creating the momentum for revolutionary solutions to the crisis.

Paul Feldman

Communications editor

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