The economic and political system we live under is thoroughly rotten and corrupt, and only serves to enrich those at the upper end of society, while systematically impoverishing those at the bottom. We have been consistently lied to, and people have been led to believe we live in a democracy, and as we all get to vote therefore everything is as it should be. We have also been led to believe that Free Market Capitalism is the only viable economic system, the only alternative being Socialism, which is far worse. However our democratic system has been fixed to only return parties who preach the same policies, and our economic system has been corrupted to ensure that wealth is only accumulated by those who are already wealthy.
So what can we do? Well short of having a revolution, which will inevitably come if things don’t change, there are some other things we can do in the meantime. Anyone who is in touch with current affairs will know that protests achieve nothing (the anti-Iraq War march, the Countryside march, the anti-student fees march all got colossal turnouts, but achieved absolutely no change in government policy whatsoever). However non-violent direct action (ie causing civil disruption but in a way that doesn’t damage people or property) does shake the government substantially. The Occupy Camp at St Pauls, various strikes, sit-ins and road blockages have all, on occasion forced the government to sit up and take notice. The more of this there is, the more the government will become uneasy, and I strongly urge anyone reading this to try and become politically active in this way. However if activism isn’t your thing then there is still some possibility through the existing ‘democratic’ process.
Our system of parliamentary constituencies (with its ‘first-past-the-post’ method of selection) has been fixed to repeatedly return the same two parties to power. People have also been led to believe that as no other parties can possibly be elected then a vote for anyone other than Labour or the Tories is a wasted vote. However it is noticeable that as the two parties have come steadily closer together in their policies, and people have become ever more disillusioned with them, their combined share of the vote has diminished. In the 1951 General Election, 97% of all votes cast went to either Labour or Conservative. That percentage has dropped ever since, and in the recent General Election only 67% of the vote went to Labour or Conservative. If that trend continues it will become increasingly difficult for either of the two main parties to form majority governments, and then coalitions will become the norm… and with coalitions come fresh parties, fresh ideas, and the possibility of change.
So the first thing to say is that, contrary to what some people are currently saying (most notably Russell Brand until very recently) it is absolutely essential that you vote in elections. If people don’t vote their opinions are completely lost, and the government interprets the low turnout as a general apathetic satisfaction with things as they are. Secondly, vote for any party you like, as long as it’s not Labour or Conservative. That will serve to push the Labour/Conservative share of the vote down. By preference I would say vote tactically for whichever candidate in your constituency is most likely to defeat the Labour or Tory incumbent. In most constituencies that will probably be either the Lib-Dem, Green or UKIP candidates (or the SNP if you’re in Scotland, Plaid Cymru if you’re in Wales). However if you’re uncomfortable with any of them, no matter, simply vote for the next most likely candidate. The crucial thing is that you absolutely must vote, but definitely not for either of the two main parties – and if enough people stick to that, then there’s a real chance we’ll see a profusion of alternative people with alternative ideas entering parliament.
If the stranglehold of the two main parties on British politics can be broken then anything can happen. We saw from the recent coalition that it isn’t necessary for a different party to win outright – by going into government they can affect policies and bring real change. Many people felt that the Lib-Dems were a disappointment in this respect and they could have done more, but the fewer seats the main parties have, the weaker their bargaining power is in any coalition, and the more opportunity for smaller parties to bring change to our system. If we want to avert a revolution it’s the only option, and in the meantime keep a lookout for those people carrying out Direct Actions!