Monday, 30 March 2015

"Stark choice": no choice

David Cameron is reported in today's carefully balanced BBC news as saying that voters face a "stark choice" between him and Ed Miliband in the General Election on 7th May.

Last week I stayed with friends in London. I asked them which way they would vote: of the five people in the room at the time (three 19-22 year olds and two parents) only one had decided how to vote. For the others there was no choice, no discernible difference between the main parties in England. At other friends in Sussex a couple of months ago there was a palpable sense of frustration that there was no serious contender for voters offering anything other than a diet of further cuts and more neoliberalism.

Democracy in England is not well. It is sclerotic - full of the fatty acids of Eton and Oxbridge so that the only voices one hears are those of the well-to-do. It is geriatric - with a House of Lords that should long ago have been sent down to Bournemouth (pity Bournemouth) and a South Coast retirement home. It is pale and male - with far too few voices from the many communities that live in the British isles, and far too few women. Its main parties suffer from lockjaw - their mouths fixed around one word, one idea, that we must continue to cut, cut and cut Government spending. An idea now so widely refuted by economists that it is extraordinary that any party can continue to support it.

So no, Mr Cameron, voters in England do not face a "stark choice."  If only they did. Voters face no choice in a democracy that needs urgent care and repair. Care and repair that neither you nor Mr Miliband are able to offer.


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