Next Left? (Part Two)
It isn’t difficult to find the contradictions and down-right hypocrisy that is and was New Labour – so called Socialists lining their own and pals pockets. What this party showed was its lack of respect for the electorate and the electoral process. If one takes a step back towards the inception of postal ballots, we can see how gerrymandering and gross electoral fraud was pushed to the sidelines. It may be argued that there were racial issues which made it a subject too hot to handle, yet this can not be a valid perspective. New Labour, along with the Lib-dems, made good electoral advantage from, what is without a doubt, improper and illegal electoral jiggery-pokery. The press had a sniff of it and felt that the racial aspect or the political disadvantage made it a story that was worthy of dumping. We know that Birmingham, Blackburn and certain boroughs of London were exposed to this fraud. What we aren’t privy to, is exactly how far this fraud went and who knew the truth.
I once heard a quote from a member of the secret services when quizzed about the chances of ‘rigging’ an election. To paraphrase: the interviewer made a statement to the effect that it was an impossible task. The agent’s response was to infer that his perspective wasn’t true. This made me think. If it were possible to ‘rig’ an election how would this be done? The first answer was very simple: Voting is a private matter. The election officer is unaware as to who has voted for whom or for what. This allows the interception of ballot boxes and replacing them with ‘rigged’ ballot papers. Implausible maybe, impossible surely not. As a ‘democracy’, a term I use warily, less than 50% of eligible voters actually bother. As those of you who have voted know, one does not need a polling card to vote. It is merely a matter of giving one’s name and address to the returning officer and he/she will tick you off the list and allocate you a ballot paper. What this shows is, regardless to how private your vote may be, the fact that you vote is public knowledge, or at least the state knows that you vote. So the state know you vote what difference does that make? The difference lies in who it knows doesn’t vote. If someone hasn’t voted and doesn’t vote, as a rule, the chances are that they aren’t ever going to vote. To send a confederate into numerous polling stations within a given constituency and vote for non-voters isn’t such a flight of fancy I fear.
If we take the last election and the unprecedented turnout, moreover the unprecedented refusal of votes, there may be some basis of truth in my hypothesis. There were stories, not greatly reported, where individuals who turned up to vote were refused. Other weren’t able to make it into polling stations at all. Surely, a ‘democracy’ as we are reported to be, could handle 100% turnout? If it isn’t designed that way, which the last elections shows it wasn’t. Why isn’t it? When I was a child my father always said: ‘if it rained on election day, the Tories would be elected.’ I have not researched the data but what he was implying was that Labour voters were less likely to to venture out to the polling station if the weather was wretched. Where as Tory voters, individuals who perceived themselves to be Middle-Class, whether they were or not, would vote come rain or shine. In general, as in the 70’s when my father first mooted this theory, Tory voters were more likely than Labour voters to have transport. My point is this. Whether the hypothesis is correct or not, it does show that there will be patterns regarding voter behaviours and these can be interpreted as well as acted upon. This last election, I feel, demonstrates some form of Gerrymandering. To end up with the percentage of Lib-Dems to Conservatives that eventually gave us this horrendous form of government.
There was going to be a backlash against New Labour, that was as inevitable as the Liberal-Democrats showing their true blue colours. New Labour needed a bashing, sadly the bashing wasn’t sufficient to change its direction. Yet, if one had vested interests in how Britain was governed and one wanted to make sure that the policies needed to support those interests would be best suited with a Hobson’s Choice of governance then to ‘rig’ the votes would make sense. The election appears to show that the electorate had no great interest in a Tory Government, nor did it see the Lib-Dems as a genuine alternative. Whether other parties, in the last election, were sidelined we will never know for sure. But, what I feel we can say with certainty is, that we did not vote for what we have now and probably had less to do with the outcome than we previously thought.
It may be argued that I am making leaps of fancy to connect up disparate perspectives, but bear with me. The point I’m trying to deliver here is that a real Left alternative can not come to the political fore within this structure. The option of Alternative Vote cannot give the kind of fundamental government that is needed to change our political and economic deep-think. What is needed is an act of parliament that makes it a prerequisite of citizenship that everyone has to vote. If my above hypothesis is correct, this move would reduce the probability of an election being ‘rigged’. It doesn’t negate the threat entirely but it does remove a very simple and effective way of stealing votes. It also affords representation from a larger field of political alternatives.
Whether our elections are being ‘rigged’ or not may seem to be an academic point with regards to a genuine Left alternative – my argument is: that without understanding our electoral system and the ways it can be manipulated we can never truly have the government we need and deserve. To a degree, until we can see a more open and accountable election process, whether we can find a Left alternative or not becomes a mute point. Without real open and fair elections the status quo remains the same. There are parties out there that give us a socialist opportunity, yet they appear to be making limited gains on the three major parties. This may be due more to my above hypothesis than we are comfortable to accept, but from casual conversations with individuals that voted in last years elections there seems to be an imbalance with what they reported to have voted and the result.