The reasons for hanging on to your vote at the general election next month are mounting. But surely the most significant is the fact that the electorate is being kept in the dark by a conspiracy of silence by all the major parties capable of forming a government.
How can people vote for parties that are refusing to say what their immediate post-election plans are in relation to cutting the budget deficit? Despite all the squabbles between New Labour, the Tories and Liberal Democrats over national insurance contributions, no one has admitted the truth: that savage reductions in public spending are on the cards.
Leaving aside for the moment whether the deficit ought to be cut as opposed to repudiated, from a capitalist point of view there is no choice. The deficit is close to 12% of the value of annual output (GDP) and similar in size to that of Greece, which is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.
The government is forced to borrow on the bond markets to finance the gap between state spending and income – and the cost of this is rising. Currently, the Treasury is charged about 4% on borrowing and this is expected to rise to 5% this year. Interest payments alone are running at over £40 billion a year – adding to the total debt every day.
Jonathan Loynes, chief European economist at Capital Economics, is typical of City observers in noting after last month’s budget that “the current plans to halve the deficit over the next four years rely both on spending cuts which have not yet been properly detailed, and on almost certainly over-optimistic projections for the economy”.
His view that “the momentous task of tackling the UK's fiscal crisis will get under way after the election – and it's going to hurt" (my emphasis) is self-evidently true. But as that is the case, how can people actually take part in the election? Why should they vote when the major parties are effectively lying about what’s to come?
After all, you wouldn’t buy a car or a fridge or even a pint of milk without making some sort of check, would you? If you knew the milk was off, you wouldn’t buy it. So how can voters be expected to “buy in” to what’s on offer when the information on the label is pure fiction?
The great deception is what this election will be known for, therefore. And it is all part and parcel of the great wipe-out of democracy, where corruption and the big lie have undermined not just the significance of the right to vote but eaten into the very heart of the capitalist political system. Which is another good reason – perhaps the most important of them all – to hang on to your vote.
To those who say we have to use our vote because people died fighting for it, we say that their sacrifice was not made so that we could participate in a charade. The plot of the major parties is actually to steal our votes. Let’s not give them that opportunity.
We have to open a campaign that challenges the right of the political elites to impose the burden of a crisis created by their complicity with financial and economic powers on to the backs of ordinary people. That means withholding our vote, denying them a mandate to make draconian cuts. At the same time we favour building support for People’s Assemblies that would find ways to reorganise the economy and state finances along lines that benefit the majority instead of the privileged few.