Wednesday, 6 May 2015

The UK crisis of democracy

According to the media, a political and constitutional crisis is to take place at the UK's general election. That is the representative democratic election of a political party to parliament. The Scottish National Party looks to take the majority of Scottish parliamentary seats in a landslide, eradicating the Labour Party and pockets of Tories and Lib Dems that have imposed a neoliberal austerity regime on them with no mandate. During the independence referendum of last year, the 'Yes' to separation from the UK side briefly polled ahead of 'No', but was assuaged when Westminster's main party leaders pledged to ensure further devolution of power to a Scotland within the Union. It's clear that Scots, a body politic with a prevalently social democratic character, are opposed to the dismantling of civil society embodied in austerity being complimented with nuclear missile submarines being maintained on their shores which the three Westminster-based establishment parties are committed to, which is why the massive SNP is a force they must reckon with. But rather engage with Scottish concerns in the very same parameters they set during the referendum, they obstructively and contemptuously see them as a liability. David Cameron has mounted an English-centric campaign in opposition to Scottish influence in parliament while Ed Miliband has indicated that he would rather facilitate a Tory government taking power than cooperate with the SNP in the event of a hung parliament. Labour, supportive of austerity and Trident, are popularly known among Scottish nationalists as the Red Tories. If they were allow to the Tory Party to take power to obstruct the SNP from holding any from Westminster, it would confirm this accusation.

The fundamental problem that this status represents, both the Westminster contempt for the SNP's representation of the Scottish electorate and its failure to confront the reality of hung parliaments resulting the need for multi-party cooperation to govern, is an opposition to democracy itself. When Scotland voted 'No' it assumed that its voice would be heard and respected rather than silenced and ignored by a London-based establishment that begged it to retain its status in the Union beforehand. Like the colonial American revolutionaries, Scotland will respond in kind to its representation being held in contempt in this is perpetuated if a likely second referendum takes place. Russell Brand has rescinded his anti-voting stance, but the blunt reality is that his protest that voting is a pointless endeavor remains true for the majority of voters. As the majority of MPs can complacently rely on being elected in seats with safe majorities under the first-past-the-post electoral system, which has resisted many decades of efforts to reform it under the pretense of providing stability and direct representation. Under FPTP, most voters' votes are worthless under them as a statement of belief; but one that has no practical effect in terms of the democracy this broken, non-proportional electoral system claims to achieve. How can the British public, the majority of whom are non-voters, be blamed for apathy and disinterest in politics when the political system and its politicians are so overwhelmingly dysfunctional and ineffective when it comes to representing them?

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