government

Democracy is not just dead, it was never alive

Imagine you are a vegetarian, and have a choice between a cheese burger and a steak; it will make little difference to you what to choose, you don’t agree with any so why bother? Then why is it acceptable in 2017 to have a democratic system based on a similar style voting system? We all know about the first past the post (FPTP) system; it gives constituents the choice between the two most popular parties in their constituency to represent them as their MP. However, this is not democracy. If you vote for something you don’t believe in just to stop something potentially worse you can hardly say that it is democratic. You are being held electorally for ransom.

Most people will have done the online tests that suggest who you should vote for based on policies alone. Many people will see high percentage of Green policies as something they agree with but despite this, no one ever votes Green. Why? Is this because no one trusts them? No. It is because the electorate know it won’t make a difference. Your choice is primarily Labour or Tory (with a few exceptions dependant on constituency). It is true that we no longer have this ‘Diet-Tory’-centrist-Blairite monstrosity that was Labour and we do now have a credible left wing alternative to the Tory right, so there is at least a difference between the two parties now. But that does not mean the system is now fair. In a democracy you should be able to vote for what you believe in and get that voice heard equivalent to the proportion of the public that agree with you. That’s just fair. That’s not being unreasonable. It is just being democratic.

Proportional representation (PR) is the best current way to solve this problem. A few examples; if Greens get 10% of the vote, they deserve 10% of the seats. If UKIP get 10% of the vote, they too deserve 10% of the seats. This is just what democracy is. One of the main arguments against PR is the increase in frequency of coalition governments. Yes, this is true; PR will likely damage the percentage of seats the two major parties hold. However, if you have a coalition of two parties that in total represented the largest proportion of seats, is that not better that having, for instance, the Tory party needing to bribe the northern Irish DUP with over £1billion to secure a larger amount of seats not even in proportion to the number of people who voted for them? We would not get situations like this with PR. If PR was in place for this most recent election Labour would have 40% of the vote to the Tories 42.5% enabling either side to form a coalition. But this would be a coalition based on the legitimate majority of our choice which would be a far stronger and in fact more stable coalition than whatever on earth is going on now.

It almost stands to reason that if you don’t feel represented you will lose interest in politics and voting altogether. When you get to the polling station on an election day you can either compromise your beliefs and tactically vote, vote for what you truly believe and affect nothing or just don’t vote. How are any of those options democratic?

The Tories would never relinquish a system that keeps them perpetually in power and I’m sure there are many in labour also against PR. It is the duty of anyone who genuinely aligns themselves with the minor parties or anyone who agrees in democracy to lobby for a change in the system. It does not matter if you are left, right or centre, you deserve to be represented in your own country. I urge you to write to your MP’s and begin the process of true change in this country, for a democratic Britain.

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Voters unite: take action against the coalition of chaos

On June 8th something happened that few outside of the hopeful grassroots community could ever have expected. Jeremy Corbyn led the Labour party to an astonishing increase in parliamentary seats; destroying the majority previously held by the Conservative Party.

As a Labour supporter I personally welcome any result that reins in the power of Theresa May’s government. But whilst the hung parliament we’re left with does bring with it a small number of positives, it’s far from an ideal outcome.

On the plus side, without a majority May has already been forced to reconsider the manifesto she plans to submit for the Queen’s speech this week. Hard line policies on pensions and ridiculous notions such as repealing the fox hunting ban have been scrapped. This is wonderful news for those affected, and a clear victory for those of us who fought against such policies.

The snap election also delivered a result which has confirmed Jeremy Corbyn’s position as leader of a strong and stable opposition. The in-fighting which dominated the Labour Party last year is over; for the Tories such battles are only just beginning.

There is a negative side to all of this, of course. And not just for Conservative voters. In a desperate bid to keep hold of the keys to number 10, May has sought a deal with the most regressive party in UK politics; the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland (DUP).

The DUP are a right wing party with intensely conservative and religious views. This party (who now potentially have control within the UK government) are passionately opposed to LGBT rights, are anti-abortion, largely deny climate change, and most worryingly of all, have strong support from (and reported links to) the Ulster Defence Association (UDA).

A violent loyalist paramilitary group, the UDA is still active in Northern Ireland to this day. Just weeks ago, a man was shot dead in broad daylight, and in front of his three-year-old son, by a member of the group. During the troubles in Northern Ireland, the UDA were responsible for over 400 deaths, the vast majority of whom were civilians.

Much of the Conservative election campaign was built around the false notion that Corbyn is a terrorist sympathiser. Yet May has wasted no time in jumping into bed with a party strongly linked to terrorists still operating in Northern Ireland today. Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has warned Theresa May that the deal she has sought risks jeopardising peace in Northern Ireland, and is a potential violation of the Good Friday Agreement.

Already we have seen signs of May making decisions to appease the DUP. In appointing her new cabinet she has given the role of Justice Secretary to David Lidington, who has consistently opposed LGBT rights; and the role of Environmental Secretary to Michael Gove, despite his previous poor record on environmental issues.

Despite who you may have voted for, a minority government propped up by a terrorist-backed, right wing section of the Northern Irish assembly is unacceptable. It is simply wrong that we should allow such regressive politicians to have any say in how our otherwise progressive society is run. If you voted Labour, this is not what you voted for. But just as importantly; if you voted Conservative, this is not what you voted for.

Millions of people across the country, myself included, live in Conservative areas which means we are represented in parliament by Conservative MPs. It is vital that we now contact them to make it known we do not give our support to a deal with the DUP, and that neither should they. The integrity of our country is far more important than whether a political party is able to cling onto power or not. We must call upon our MPs to say no to any deal with the DUP, even if it means relinquishing control of parliament, or calling another election. On this principal we should all be agreed, regardless of our political alignment.

This is something we must act on now. Anybody that lives within a Conservative constituency must contact their local MP today. Talks between the Tories and the DUP are ongoing, and the Queen’s speech, it seems, has been delayed. The minority government as it is being proposed has no credibility, and this is something that must be communicated to our representatives in Parliament before a vote of confidence is held.

This is a rare opportunity for all voters to stand together. It’s time to put our differences aside and unite in opposition to the DUP and the potential regressive lurch to the right that comes with them. It’s time to stand up for the values that so many have fought for, and to protect the rights of every British person.

Important links:

Here you will find a sample e-mail which can be copied, edited as desired, and sent to your local MP.

Here you can find out who your local MP is, and how to contact them.

Whilst this direct action should be the priority, it is also well worth signing this petition to the UK Government, which has already reached over 150,000 signatures (at the time of this being published).

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