Archive for December, 2010

“The old world is dying away, and the new world struggles to come forth: now is the time of monsters.” Antonio Gramsci. Selections from Prison Notebooks, 1971.

“Britain is entering a new era of lawless riots and violent disorder, the country’s most senior policeman warned yesterday.” Daily Mail online, 25 November  2010.

 

“I have in mind the “riffraff,” that “rabble” almost unpolluted by bourgeois civilization, which carries in its inner being and in its aspirations, in all the necessities and miseries of its collective life, all the seeds of the socialism of the future, and which alone is powerful enough today to inaugurate and bring to triumph the Social Revolution.” Mikhail Bakunin, 1872.

“When it comes to exploitation the bourgeoisie practice solidarity. In combating them the exploited must do likewise..” Mikhail Bakunin, 1872.

 

Kate's response to William's fears that he may have to pawn mother's engagement ring to pay for his children's education.

"Oh for fuck's sake, Charles! Not another night at the Palladium!"

And finally, Merry Christmas from David Cameron.

You know the scenario. You’ve just got up the day after the general election and the media number crunchers are out in force. Amid the blizzard of statistics on first and second preferences, transfers, swings, historic wins and losses, are the numbers on voter turn-out. The higher the turn-out, it seems, the more valid and decisive the electoral mandate. The lower the turn-out, the less validity. But when it comes to interpreting reasons for low turn-outs, the pundits are at a loss because the present electoral system for general elections in Britain is based solely on a positive Yes vote for a single candidate.

Of course, there will always be a hard-core of voters who just don’t care enough to vote. But I’m sure there is also quite a substantial constituency of voters who don’t turn out because they have no means of recording their alienation from the current political system, who lack the means to record a positive NO vote, not just to individual parties or candidates but also to policies. But imagine a system of voting where people can record a positive NO vote on the candidates and policies on offer and also give reasons why – it would just require a few more boxes on the ballot paper:

  • Candidate 1
  • Candidate 2
  • Candidate 3
  • Candidate 4
  • √I reject all the above the candidates
  • √They offer no viable solution to the current crisis
  • They do not represent my needs or views
  • They have not clearly explained their policies and positions

 

This is significant if we think about what happened in the last British general election. No single party achieved a majority mandate to govern. No party mentioned the word coalition. No single party promised the kind of savage cuts to the public sector we now face.  The people were asked to vote for a single candidate standing on a party or independent manifesto. And what did they get? A coalition of losers that is now mugging them with a neo-liberal programme for government for which there is no democratic mandate.

There are of course valid objections to such a system – principally that it is effectively a spoiled ballot in that the voter’s rejection is merely a plebiscite, an expression of views that will not be represented in the political arena, the whole point of elections in parliamentary democracy. Perhaps. But if the election number crunchers were able to point to, say, a 15% vote against all the above,  and a statistical break down of the reasons for it, it might give the political classes some pause for thought about the quality of representation and democracy currently on offer to the electorate.

Next year, there will be a  referendum in Britain on electoral reform. It will ask the people if they prefer to stick with the present, single candidate, first past the post system they’re used to or if they might like an alternative system based on some form of proportional representation. All very fine if the people vote for an alternative system but that still won’t transfer real power to the citizen. This is a lost opportunity but no surprise because the political classes are not going to construct a democratic voting system that transfers power from parliament to the people, where politicians serve the people and not the system.

 

I will watch with interest the progress of the new, United Left Alliance in the impending Irish general election. This will be one of the most critical elections in Irish history. Or maybe not. This is where the Irish people will decide whether to take their country back. Or save the EU and IMF the bother and sell it off on EBay. I’m not confident they will pick up many seats – maybe Joe Higgins and Richard Boyd Barrett? – but that’s not the point. The point is that they are standing and offering an alternative to the centre-right consensus on the current crisis.

Have a look here at the ULA’s  mainfesto and if you are an Irish citizen and you have a vote, then consider this: if you think that the current government has failed miserably to handle the crisis; if you think elected politicians in Ireland have proven themselves woefully out of their depth; and if you think the wider political debate is restricted to a narrow, ideological consensus in search of a capitalist solution to a capitalist crisis, then isn’t it time to lend your vote to a humane alternative that puts people before profit and loss?

This comes courtesy of Rab at Media Studies is Shit.

(Created by Myles123. Source: xtranormal)

It’s climate change, stupid!

Posted: December 1, 2010 in Current affairs

Stuck in a blizzard on the M25? Listening to too much Jeremy Vine and reading the Daily Mail? Think the freezing weather proves global warming wrong? Need help urgently? Then read this post by my friends at Tiny Box and be enlightened!