The Constraints of the International Capitalist Economy…

We’re in the midst of a never-ending economic, especially European, crisis where Greece has received its second ‘bail out’ through the neoliberal Eurozone/IMF led bailout, as minimum wage is cut by 22%, the unemployment rate is 20.9% (record high), job losses continue to rise with 30,000 public sector jobs suspended, and the constitution now enshrines a commitment that debt reduction is more important than public sector investment/continuation of services. Furthermore, this deal was worked out on optimistic budget and projected economic ‘developments’, with Greece expected to reduce its debt through the package from 160% to 120% GDP, well shy of the new European Treaty 60% GDP debt restriction soon set to be part of countries’ who sign up laws. However, this condition, alongside a commitment to maintaining a less than 3% GDP deficit has been part of the European Union since the ’90s but is only facing renewed attempts to ensure its enforceability given the crisis, and given the primarily ‘advanced’ countries such as France ignoring the conditions resulting in the conditions even being suspended at one point. In fact, France’s historic level cuts are in part influenced by the pressure coming from the European Union regarding their off target debt and deficit limits.

So debt. Debt debt debt debt debt. That’s all we hear about. Everyday. On the news. In the streets. People have been told that debt is the big issue. They aren’t told that we built the NHS and welfare system, which itself is under systematic attack since the 1980s, with over 200% debt. More specifically, debt is a fundamental part and aspect of capitalism. Capitalism needs debt to survive. It needs debt so that people access endless credit so they can indulge in excessive consumption through the endless production of false needs, especially given the 1950s invention of the credit card helping with the rapid movement towards post-Fordism. Cameron said that personal debt on credit cards needs to be removed to help tackle the economic crisis. Indeed. But it doesn’t stand up when Cameron supports a capitalist system that wouldn’t exist without access to credit. This is especially true when the international system is increasingly acting out policies as in Greece and in Portugal where unemployment is 14%, with workers’ holidays and compensation packets when made redundant being cut with talks of a second bailout likely, so the majority of the population are paying for the crisis set about by this flawed system and the dominance of a private sector and financial system. Job cuts slashes the disposable income that people have to spend on the ever increasing production, relating to the falling rate of profit as more money is utilised to invest in capital spending at the expense of workers’ wages, as prices of products go up to offset the profit deductions caused by endless stagnant capitalist investments.

However, that isn’t to naively purport an easy way out of the current international restraints placed upon socialist, progressive cooperatively organised forces that are trying desperately hard to resist such pressures. Immanuel Wallerstein has made some very interesting contributions regarding the international crisis, tracing the development of what he calls a world system, that being more specifically a capitalist world economy. Influenced by dependency theory that criticised the simplistic view that economic growth equals progress, there is a critical analysis of how the world system is shaped so that certain (core) countries exploit the majority of other countries (periphery) with the help but also whilst undermining other in-between countries (semi-periphery). Wallerstein believes that resistance within a system is limited so that the left often have to choose the lesser of the two evils, whilst working towards forming a new type of system given his analysis that the capitalist world system will collapse in around 50 years. For Wallerstein we have been experiencing a financial crash since the 1970s, with the development of finance and extension of consumption.

These restraints placed upon progressive decisions are evidential even at a local level. I have written previously about the challenges the local councils face given there are around 30% cuts to the local governmental budget and the continual council tax freeze with practically null ability for local councils to raise revenue. As I said there, it is similar to the situation in France where departments are given more responsibility, whilst central government ignores the constitutional right to pass with these increased responsibilities more resources. Whilst preaching the power of the ‘big society’ and specifically the government’s so called related ‘localism’ drive, councillors are seen as easy scapegoats by the likes of Pickles to denounce and penalise when making decisions with limited autonomy.

You only have to look at the controversy regarding the only Green ran council in Brighton to see the effects this can have on progressive forces. There have been several members of the Greens leave because of Green councillors decision (except one vote against) to vote through an amended budget by the Tories and Labour after the Greens had their own budget amended regarding their proposal to increase council tax to offset the problems due to the freeze not helping councillors in the long term, condemning them to committing more cuts. Whilst I agree with those critical of the councillors’ voting in favour of Labour/Tories’ amendment and the apparent stifling of debate at conference is concerning, importantly we must remember that many including our own MP, Caroline Lucas, have voiced opposition to this. Even saying that, there are interesting points against rejecting the amended budget, when remembering the considerable constraints the Greens face locally (which party members should have been aware of when accepting the Greens role as a political party standing for public office in an evidential corrupt unfair system.) Furthermore, those leaving seem to also be leaving on the basis that the Greens even proposed a budget and didn’t just set an illegal budget. This is something I have talked about before, I only really see the potential of an illegal budget if it was coordinated amongst a majority or substantial number of councils.

This isn’t to say that I am a pro-cutter, I am adamantly against cuts given they are purely ideological and not needed, as mentioned above given the expected nature of debt in a capitalist system, the illogical destruction caused by cutting (falling rate of profit, etc.) and how debt was dealt with differently after the war. However, this is a reflection of an unequal corrupt capitalist defined international system, and I find walking away from substantial progressive attempts to make society better just because it isn’t 100% pure seriously counterproductive to the left’s efforts and I fail to see what they expect to achieve. This isn’t a decision like the Libdems who choose to go to bed with a fascist right wing Tory party at a national level, the reason we are seeing councils being cut at stupid amounts, whilst renouncing on pretty much all of their progressive policies in a desperate bid for power. Again, it comes back to what is the lesser evil, and for me the LibDems would have been better undermining the Tories’ power through remaining an independent, free thinking party. Instead, they have became a shadow of the party they used to be, and for me are set to come extinct.

This relates also to my view that we shouldn’t be adverse to working with Labour. Labour, like the Greens, have many progressive members constituting their activist base. They are having influence, as Ed Miliband’s good comments are often painted over by left fractionation and right wing propaganda in the media (Jay Baker has set up an interesting weekly analysis of things we don’t see Ed Miliband say). We need to remember the reality of a system that we live in, for me the real enemies should be the Conservatives in the UK. We need to work together to try and marginalise the damage and pain that is being caused by a party so drenched in Social Darwinism. I’m not naïve to the problems of Labour, but nor am I naïve to the problems of an international system always undermining and cutting chance for progressive resistance. Again, it comes to being pragmatic sometimes when working within the system in a hope of helping alleviate the pain and suffering caused by a system obsessed with greed, corruption and profit. Wallerstein believes we have seen a change to the dominant power relations, as whilst those at the top still have the same right wing ideas, there are more forces arriving challenging this hegemonic dominance as people’s political resistance grows and grows. The continual problems with the Eurozone, the ineffective so-called bailouts and the ongoing business as usual approach demonstrates that neoliberal and this capitalist world economy cannot keep going as it is indefinitely, we need to come together to minimise the damage in the short term and move towards a fairer different political economy, maintaining that ideal society in our mind whilst respecting the undermining practical current reality.

The Budget and the Capitalist Way of Life…

…no woman with a shred of self-respect is going to ally herself with a movement that has systematically and purposely set out to LIE to her in order to recruit her into its ranks. Diluting one’s politics, denying one’s principles, gutting one’s ideology to seem more ‘appealing’ are all ways of LYING…. Any woman who really wants a different life for herself doesn’t want essentially the same life with a few superficial frills here and there. She wants something other than what she has, or she isn’t going to bother (Penelope, 1985:26-87).

Whilst I missed the budget, catching up on the details only confirms my earlier disbelief as LibDems’ baaaaaed (sheep noise) in support of a budget that employs symbolic announcements which effects ‘luxury’ items such as private jets that are typical of capitalist excess; hiding the deceitful, arrogant and socially, political and economically regressive nature of the budget.

Even though the quote above refers to feminist debates, the central meaning of abandoning what you believe, lying in order to meet hegemonic constructions whilst ignoring the need to radically change the power relations that construct so much inequality in society can be adequately applied to the Coalition and Labour. Labour will have their leader speaking at the TUC march this Saturday arguing for an alternative. Caroline Lucas, despite letters and #whyisntcarolinespeaking pleas to the TUC, will not. Currently, let’s remember, Labour would be initiating similar cuts, this year, to the Tories'; Darling reconfirmed this today. They wouldn’t be challenging the neoliberal foundations that shape our society. They would be reinforcing them. Ed is lying to himself and the public if he believes that Labour offer an alternative. If you are thinking about making a banner for the TUC march, maybe a blunt pair of scissors with the caption “Labour’s alternative”, might be a good idea.

We are told that the budget is fair, when the government is cutting corporation tax by 5% over the next three years. Corporation tax is already too low, and banks avoid paying for it through offsetting their loses through the tax whilst paying themselves big bonuses anyway. Any levy that the banks come under is offset through the gains such a reduction will provide them, a change to the deferred tax assets to undermine their ability to offset corporation tax would have hit the banks; but no, let’s hit the poor, instead. Apparently, we are told that Osborne has ‘raided’ the banks; given that other measures such as limiting the deferred tax assets and more importantly, a robin hood tax, were ignored it is safe to say the banks, as always, have their greedy pig bellies full once again. The income threshold has been raised again; the LibDems convince themselves such a move is ‘progressive’ when actually, such a move is highly regressive with it mainly benefiting the middle class. The raise is apparently to be paid through clamping down on tax avoidance, given Gideon and co.’s friends are at stake here, I think an eye on results is key. It is more likely the rise will be paid for through extra cuts, making the regressive measure even more regressive.

Apparently, the corporation cut is to be funded through green taxes (which are hardly that helpful, as to be discussed). How ironic. Environmental degradation has considerable links with the current global neoliberal political relations. As it stands, environmental degradation is accounted as ‘growth’ in GDP, companies in a bid to prevent a ‘falling rate of profit’ lay off workers as they offset the costs of more and more technology – eventually, the resources such as oil will run out; they look for new natural resources to burn out and destroy – the capitalist profit motive of endless production is environmentally destructive. The consequences of not weaning ourselves off oil and nuclear have been demonstrated rather clearly with the recent events in Japan and the Middle East. However, we will choose to look over this, utilise “it can’t happen to us” line and precede with this damaging neoliberal logic of endless greed and senseless production without a consideration of the use values, instead of the exchange. Even the increased tax on production of oil in the North Sea is likely to only offset our reliance upon exports to imports, not extremely stable given the ruptures in the Middle East.

What’s more, the budget is nothing like green. The ‘Green’ Investment Bank won’t be able to borrow until 2015, rather undermining the point of the bank helping the economy recover alongside restructuring political, economic and social relations that influence the environment. However, I often doubt the effects such a bank would have given the corporate voices jumping on board criticising the limited lending/borrowing power of the bank. Capitalist answers to an environmental crisis are doubtful, and as it stands, the Green Bank is just another capitalist abject. The Green Taxes have been criticised by environmentalist campaigners as stealth taxes that only perpetuate the negative views around being green, which will essentially encourage the production of nuclear power instead of renewables. The carbon taxes will be passed onto the consumer (something Green Capitalists actually support to reflect the true price of natural ‘resources’), undermining any argument that corporation tax will be offset through the carbon taxes.

The problem with such a pro-capitalist budget is that the foundations such a political economy is based upon will eventually crumble. We are witnessing that with the Middle East; arm trades, oil deals and general corruption have sustained and continue to sustain this way of life. We are made to think that things have been done for the better, but underneath those shiny foreheads are brains poised to maintain the status quo and damaging relations that help sustain this capitalist way of life. Token gestures are mere facades of an economic programme set to overload.

The government embarks on a course of “environmental vandalism”…

The creation of a new ministerial post for ‘green economics’ was the suggestion from an international policy group, Globe International; the post would see the appointed minster overseeing ‘natural capital’. Globe International also suggested a new valuation approach to the natural world (called “natural capital accounts”). The only problem I have with this is that it seems to be very capitalist oriented, as shown by the inclusion of the word “capital”. It illustrates the capitalist promotion of the commoditisation of nature as a ‘natural resource’, and the capitalist obsession with growth. Regardless, it illustrates movements in the right direction.

However, any suggestion of an incorporation of natural value within the government’s economic policies seems a long shot for the supposedly “greenest government ever”. The suggestions come with the news:

Many of England’s best-loved forests and woodlands may be sold to large landowners, housing developers and international power companies in what could be the UK’s greatest change of land ownership since the second world war.

In response, Caroline Lucas rightly argued:

If this means vast swathes of valuable forest being sold to private developers, it will be an unforgiveable act of environmental vandalism. Rather than asset-stripping our natural heritage, government should be preserving public access to it, and fostering its role in combating climate change and enhancing biodiversity.

For one, this clear ideological driven privatisation illustrates this government’s obsession with making money in any way it can without any care for the social, economic and environmental repercussions. However, the sale of the land will, relatively speaking, raise little; and, will be nowhere near the social and environmental value that these natural areas provide for many humans and the interrelated natural ecosystems.

Secondly, whilst the natural world is so much more than this, I have a specific affinity with the argument that the natural world can be part of an ascetic creative expression that is essential for natural connection – especially within the wilderness areas. These connections between humans and nature will be undermined and overtaken primarily by industrialists who are wanting to make a quick buck. It is infuriating, and another sign that this government just doesn’t get it. It doesn’t understand the seriousness of the environmental crisis. All it cares about is lining the pockets of the bourgeoisies essential for propping the government up.

To top it off, you get this pathetic email from Chris Huhne; as he tries to absolve himself of moral hypocrisy. Supposedly, the government is helping Britain to become the “fairest and greenest”; of course it is – that’s why they recently championed an even more pathetic attempt of a green investment bank, with a lousy 1bn capital.

The more time goes on, the more damaging this government becomes – economically, socially and environmentally. They can say they are doing it for the “future generations” or the “national interest” – but there is nothing discussed above that is in anyone elses’ interests other than those with the money and the ‘power’.

Note: If you haven’t already done so, please sign the petition to “save our forests” here.

Clegg must not be allowed to use pluralism as an excuse for Coalition…

Whilst I have full applause for Caroline Lucas’s Guardian article re pluralism; which for me was a much better assessment of the need for a pluralistic approach – instead of producing endless demanding lists of areas where Labour need to change, a much more constructive approach is required – I do not share the same praise for Nick Clegg’s latest (and frequent) musings regarding pluralism.

The argument “if you don’t support the coalition you are against pluralistic politics”, rather misses the actual point and meaning of pluralism in politics – well when addressed regarding what the LibDems ‘used’ to stand for; now they seem much more like a modified Tory party. Before the election, the LibDems were closer to Labour on many areas, and many of their ‘faithful’ (not to Liberal tradition mind) figureheads would have told you that (and still do). But it was up to a few at the top to do a deal with the Tories.

Regardless, the LibDems compromised in a way that changed the actual doctrine and premise of their support base – that was and is why they have seen such a negative reaction. Nick Clegg reaffirms this as he says that people wouldn’t have supported them joining Labour as it would have been as discredited as they ‘lost’ the election (even though he also contends that no one actually won the election), he tellingly rarely mentions the actual values of Labour (even though they do need to reform, they were a much closer to the former progressive LibDems).

The point is, the pluralism that the Greens and some of Labour talk about would not include the Tories, as it is a progressive pluralistic position. There is no way that the Greens would ever support economic masochism that stands fundamentally against everything we believe in the name of pluralism, and get away with it. Yes, we would have to support the odd policy here and there that we might not agree with – but pluralism isn’t about getting all your own way, but nor is it about changing fundamentally what you stand for in the name of the blurry eyed and social constructed concept of ‘national interest’.

Clegg attempts to utilise the progressive argument of pluralism, whilst he remains in a deal that upholds tribalism in its strictest sense as the parties are often in headlock over so many areas; it prevents pluralism from flourishing. However, there is an aspect of the LibDems that has come through to cement a strong relationship with the Tories – this being steered by the leadership, not the majority of the membership (consider the votes against academies for example, whilst prominent cabinet ministers supported the policy – even those who once slandered the ideas) – but this isn’t an aspect of communal support re grass-roots.

Pluralism is very much a concept of the left, and the progressives. It is now for the progressives amongst us to show Clegg what pluralism is! Hopefully, Ed Miliband will embrace this concept and take up Lucas’s challenge; after all he needs to. There needs to be movements towards cooperative movements and organisations and mutual and cooperative structures to remove the state dominant over-handed structures in society – a revaluation of the state is central to move forward.

There are many challenges for pluralism, and overcoming the slogan orientated approach of Clegg is one of them. He is branding around the concept as though anyone who uses it against the coalition are ignorant to the reality of so-called ‘pluralistic’ politics of the coalition. We need to make sure that pluralism has a positive orientation associated with the progressives amongst us, and that pluralism is not used as an excuse for excessive and ideological cutting instead of being about shared and consensual, whilst principled, decision making.

Ed Miliband’s speech and political fruit making (progressive watermelons)…

Watermelons, Lemons and Kiwis

I am in the mood for political fruit comparison. As many of you know, many people call us Greens watermelons and persist as they think it is an offense. As the URL of Green Left or Caroline Lucas’s open acceptance of the label shows, many of us actually really like using the word watermelon; it has become involved in a self-determination reclaiming movement (even though it originated within the Green movement – see Sarah’s comment below).

Today, I was mightily pleased to be a watermelon, especially when you have a look at the fruits on offer from the other political parties. David Miliband, well he is obviously a lemon, choosing to be very bitter and sour re Ed’s win, as shown by his arrogant criticism of Harman and his feudal flee of the region (from Manchester to London) – he might as well have an aeroplane following him with a banner stating: “forget Ed’s speech, just talk about me!”. Yes, it must have been a horrible experience to have lost something you have put off standing for so many years; but its politics, and if he was going to be this ungracious losing, well he never should have stood.

Then we turn to Ed. Well I have been struggling to think of a fruit that can correspond to the great sense of disappointment that I and many others felt from watching his speech. I have decided to come down on the side of a kiwi – you can never get enough out of them, can you? You try your hardest to get as much of the food from inside it out, but it all gets a bit too messy, so you give up. Well Ed today was mightily disappointing, with his poor comments re unions, the deficit (as someone rightly said, his talk of a deficit burden for future generations – man how often has that word been used today – is George Osborne economics), the environment and foreign policy in particular.

Unions

The unions apparently didn’t look too happy at Ed Miliband’s comments re the unions striking. In classic pandering to the right, he talked about how the public wouldn’t support them in reckless and irresponsible strikes. Yes, we know. But what do YOU think about strikes in general, in the specific economic context. The Conservatives and LibDems will denounce any attempt for public collective action against the NOT INEVITABLE cuts that they are enacting as self glorified union ‘baron’ (this is an in-factually correct slander being appropriated at the moment) manipulation. What the test is for Ed, is to stand up and support rightful strikes; which will be mostly all of them, as they are striking to protect their livelihoods.

Deficit

It makes you wonder whether Nick Clegg wrote Ed Miliband speech the way in which Cameron finalised Clegg’s. Oh, the whole – Labour would have been doing painful cuts blah blah blah. Well yes, because they were going to enact a very politically sensitive economic plan, which was drawn up in a climate where most people would have accepted no less. They saw Labour in the frame of the Tories’ construction, that of a reckless spending party – when all they had done was protect the economy from meltdown, something many Tories seem happy to of let happen. What Ed really needs to do, as at the moment he looks like a moderate Cameron, is to carve a counter narrative for Labour’s economic plans.

I have said this countless times before, Ed Balls plans are what Labour needs. There was no mention of cuts in his impressive Boomerang speech, it was focused on investment and creating jobs. Again, Greens are in desperate need themselves to redefine their economic policies, as at the moment we are signed up to a similar deficit reduction plan to Darling’s, the difference being the tax to cuts ratio. Labour’s endless obsession with GDP and growth, as most mainstream parties have, shows why the watermelons are the only party to really understand the environment and economy’s interdependent relationship. Ed spoke little about the environment – something I will come onto now.

Environment

For someone who seemed to care about the environment whilst in government, he was pretty dire. I think this is rather nicely summed up by Caroline Lucas:

If Ed’s new politics is adding dash of environmentalism to business as usual – as tiny bit on climate added at end of speech – it looks grim

But as NishmaDoshi on Twitter pointed out, Lucas needs to make sure to frame her environmental arguments in wider political discourse, as we need to make sure that as a party we carve out a narrative that shows how clearly the environment and economy relate together; aka ecosocialism.

Foreign Affairs

As I said on Twitter, his comments re Afghanistan are counter productive when considering his supposedly liberal approach. All Afghanistan is now, is a vain attempt of liberal interventionism! We need to withdraw now, with political affairs and aid infrastructure being the only, military and whatever else, reconstruction we involve ourselves in.

Banana Skins

Ed looked as though he wanted to distance himself from slipping up on the right-wing’s banana skin (as David did one time long ago) and actually ended up doing so. He gave them exactly what they wanted; someone who had peeled off their radical edge (possible for a kiwi); laughing at the very prospect of Old Labour. It was a speech David Miliband could have agreed with (oh, well not on Iraq as we have seen). I showed a lot of positivism regarding Ed being chosen as Labour leader – and I still do. I guess I am falling into the whole dynamic of pluralism and tribalism. However, I don’t think the points I have mentioned are that demanding on a fresh Labour leader; who expresses such desperation on reforming the party.

Hopefully, Ed will be able to overcome the right-wing scaremongering, and start to keep to some of the things he argued for in his campaign. Us watermelons need to continue to press hard, but in a constructive manner, not in a dictatorial “I want it now” “are we there yet?” way! We will have to see.

P.s – political fruit comparisons are welcomed by the way!

AV and the Green Party – a case example of absolutist politics…

For all Caroline Lucas’s musings around the adversarial and absolutist political system, she was a key contributor to the discussion regarding whether the Greens should support the AV campaign, where she made it clear that she was fully in favour of the Greens doing so. Lucas argued that she didn’t want to be on the outside looking in, or fighting a no battle with the TaxPayers’ Alliance.

This ignores the fact that there will be trade unions and many a progressive person/group/affiliation fighting against the AV bill. But it also plays into the dichotomous view that you either have to take a for or against AV stance when it comes to campaigning time. Derek Wall made a good point when speaking in objection to the motion, that there are alternative forms of protest we can do, such as spoiling the ballot via placing a + on the AV option.

We don’t need to front a pro or an against campaign. We could have let the members decide and remained neutral as a larger organisational body. Alternatively, we could have forged a pro PR campaign, this could have helped us reinforce our distinctiveness to other so called progressive parties, such as the LibDems.

Caroline Lucas rightly, as she did at conference, has made some important comments regarding the out of date political system, such as in a recent Guardian article she claims:

“This adversarial system impacts on everything from the membership of select committees to the selection of amendments for debate. Everything is decided in a mysterious, opaque fashion. At first sight, it seems so laborious for any outsider, or novice, to understand – or influence – because parliament is so steeped in tradition and pomp. But the reality is that parliament is this way for a reason: it keeps power in the hands of the few. The main parties don’t want smaller parties to make use of the powers of the institution, whether to legislate or scrutinise the government.”

As, I and Darrell Goodliffe commented upon in our conference review, the amount of obstacles politicians have when it comes to getting on with their job is very worrying. Her comments are a damning indictment of absolutist politics. And quite a good and rightful one too. But then, as I have said above, why did we then feel obligated to have to come down on a for or against position regarding AV? Why heel to the first sign of electoral reform? Especially when it will be reform of little consequence.

We wouldn’t have looked anti-reformist. We could have fronted a campaign where the benefits of PR were emphasised, instead we are to waste time and energy (and some resources) talking up the benefits of AV to most likely see it be defeated. As many have said, those who believe in AV being the best option for change should have been given that chance to argue just that – but there are many skeptics in the party who rightfully think that the arguments for AV will undermine future reform.

The motion that passed through conference argued that AV removed tactical voting and the wasted vote problem. Some may then find themselves asking, well why do we want PR then. These factually incorrect arguments will only undermine any case for future reform, as we take a wrongly absolutist stance of which we are encouraged to do so by the very system that Caroline Lucas is rightfully defaming.

I am most  likely going to abstain from voting, as I feel a general sense of apathy towards voting for or against it (however, spoiling the ballot is also an option). Hopefully, I will be wrong and this wont undermine the Greens and future reform. However, it seems as though we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t – so instead of engaging in absolutist politics; a neutral stance – allowing individuals to pursue their own conscious based decision – would have been the most applicable option.

Note: There is soon to be a myth busting article regarding AV, by myself and Darrell Goodliffe on Broad Left Blogging, so watch this space.

The mistaken and unhelpful arguments for electoral change…

Ok, I have been writing rather a lot about the contradictions of certain arguments – such as pluralism and tribalism – and now another contradiction comes to mind. This time it is in regards to the electoral system. As we know, there is to be a referendum soon on AV (well if it actually passes the parliament stage, especially with the news that Tories and Labour will join to prevent the bill from happening – oh, how one-sided this coalition is increasingly becoming).

Whether to support AV or not is to be debated at the Green’s party conference. I am increasingly coming down on the side of anti-AV – we need PR, as for one – it isn’t proportional, and in some cases, less so than the current system. Furthermore, it is to be tied to self-interested boundary changes (even if it is not in name in terms of the question) – and this could even lead to our one MP losing her seat. Then there is the erroneous nature of arguments such as it will get rid of tactical voting. I mean, seriously? People I know in Labour are clearly thinking and promoting tactical voting in the leadership election, the election which uses AV.

Another argument that I came across the other day, promoted by a LibDem, is the view that AV would near remove the BNP. I mean, as if there is really any presence of them anyway (they failed to win an MP and their council seats was dramatically reduced). This argument also counteracts many of those who are pro electoral system changes – as what they are saying is that, well we only want electoral change to improve our own party ratings, we don’t want the electoral system to really reflect the voting, instead, we just want more seats for ourself.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like the BNP, they are a vile party. However, people vote for them, and as we live in a democracy and they are (for the moment) a legal party, we shouldn’t be voting for electoral systems on the basis that it will eradicate the BNP. I mean, it rather undermines a strong argument for electoral change, that it would make the electoral system fairer and be a better reflection of popular voting.

The author of the argument above, believes that with the use of the AV: NO BNP argument, Labour couldn’t possibly front an opposition to AV as it would undermine their moral obligations. I seriously don’t see this. As I have said, this is a clearly mistaken argument, and actually undermines the need for electoral change. You can’t change an electoral system to stop parties you don’t like (even though most people don’t like the BNP), as then you are just replacing the FPTP system with another biased and undemocratic system.

But in truth, that is all AV would do anyway. It would do little to improve the electoral system we have, and it will hamper any future reform. Hopefully, parliament will listen to Caroline Lucas’ amendment to get PR options on the ballot paper – that will certainly put the Liberal Democrats in a difficult position. I think if people are going to fight for the AV system however, they shouldn’t be trying to pull on the heart-strings as the article I cited is – it isn’t helpful, and is actually counterproductive to the pro electoral reform arguments.

What this also does is reflect attention away from the reasons that people support the BNP. There is a real need for proper investment in jobs, capital spending and the like – these are the real reasons behind most people’s support for the BNP. So no wonder some LibDems would want to play this BNP card in an electoral vote, as it takes attention away from the hurtful spending cuts that they are initiating with the Tories.