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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Reasons to vote alternative



I've thought long and hard about whether I should actively endorse one particular political party for the European elections on May 22nd, rather than just campaigning against the establishment political parties that adhere to the bankrupt ideology of neoliberalism.

In the end, I've decided to provide some information and some general voting advice instead of endorsing one specific political party.

In this article I'm going to explain why you should bother to vote, then provide some information on which parties you should and shouldn't consider voting for.

Why you should vote

Voting in the European election is especially important for two reasons. Firstly, it is contested on a proportional basis, meaning that those who vote for alternative parties are not just "wasting their vote" as is the case in the unrepresentative and apathy inducing Westminster system. Secondly, The turnout for Euro elections is embarrassingly low (33% in 2009), which means that if you do vote, your voting power is effectively doubled (the turnout at the 2010 General Election was 65%).



Who not to vote for

The Lib-Lab-Con establishment

The European elections are conducted on a proportional basis, which means there are no such things as "safe seats" and "wasted votes", which are symptoms of the outdated and grotesquely unrepresentative electoral system in Westminster.

The archaic electoral system used in general elections has allowed the three Westminster establishment parties (the Lib-Lab-Cons) to run a closed-shop. Time after time they have lied to, and openly defied the wishes of the electorate, safe in the knowledge that alternative parties have virtually no chance of overturning their oligopoly on political power.


The European election is an excellent opportunity for people to protest against the out-of-touch Westminster establishment, because under the Proportional Representation voting system, every vote counts.

Anyone who votes for the Lib-Lab-Con Westminster establishment parties in the European elections is, in essence, voting for the continuation of the establishment orthodoxy.

UKIP


It looks as if UKIP could conceivably win the most seats in the European Parliament backed by a tide of political illiterates who consider them some kind of "alternative" to the establishment orthodoxy. What these people fail to realise is that UKIP is even more fanatical about the right-wing Thatcherite economic orthodoxy of neoliberalism (the bankrupt economic ideology that ruined British industry and created the global financial sector meltdown) than the Lib-Lab-Con establishment, and that they are bankrolled by a pack of former Tory party donors.

One of the saddest indicators of the political illiteracy of UKIP supporters is that the vast majority of them actually favour the explicitly socialist policies of renationalising the rail network and energy companies, but they are going to march off to the polls in order to vote for a blatantly Thatcherite party with a burning ideological hatred of the public sector; a right-wing party led by and bankrolled by people who consider the most right-wing Tory party in living memory not nearly right-wing enough.

Some of the clearest indicators of how right wing UKIP really is, are the anti-NHS statements from UKIP deputy leader Paul Nuttall, who has openly praised the Tory led coalition for their policy of carving up the NHS and privatising the pieces, despite the fact that 82% of the general public (and the majority of UKIP voters) strongly oppose NHS privatisation.

Another glaring indicator that UKIP is an establishment party is their outright refusal to oppose the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The TTIP is a grave threat to the sovereignty of all the nations involved because it will create a new tier of highly secretive tribunals (National Sovereignty and Investor State Dispute Settlements) designed to allow multinational corporations to sue nation states. Thus, if the UK decides to prevent a multinational corporation from doing whatever the hell they like (lets say strip mining one of our national parks) our country can be taken to one of these secret courts and forced to pay the multinational corporation everything they claim they would have made in profit (from their Lake District Strip Mining operation) in compensation.

That UKIP cannot bring themselves to utter a word of opposition to this, suggests that they are just a bunch of opportunists, using the language of sovereign independence to win votes, whilst doing absolutely nothing to oppose an undeniably huge threat to our national sovereignty.
 
UKIP is the party to represent the kind of person who loved Margaret Thatcher, but thought her biggest fault was that she was too left-wing. If you are not as right-wing as Margaret Thatcher was, yet you actually vote for this unmistakably Thatcherite party, you are clearly an idiot, and should be ashamed of yourself.

The fascist fringe

It is incontestable that UKIP occupies the extreme-right authoritarian territory you would expect from a "Thatcherism on steroids" party, however they do tend to regularly expel people from the party when they express totally outrageous and openly fascist sentiments (mandatory abortions for disabled fetuses, suggesting black actors go to live in black countries, blaming gay marriage for the Somerset floods, referring to female party members as sluts...). That they attract so many of these lunatics in the first place should be deeply concerning.
 

People who are genuine fascists (rather than just politically illiterate/hopelessly confused little-Englanders) have a couple of parties to choose from:

There's the laughing stock that is the BNP, which is led by Nick Griffin (a man who is now as financially bankrupt as he is morally bankrupt) and there are the English Democrats, who are pretty much the political wing of the English Defence League.



Genuine Alternatives

The Green Party
(Green Party of England and Wales / Scottish Green Party)

One of the most amusing sounds in modern British politics is the sound of UKIP drones trying to dismiss the Greens as a "single issue party". The Green party have a detailed manifesto covering a huge range of issues, unlike UKIP, whose party manifesto had to be dropped after party leader Nigel Farage dismissed it as "drivel", meaning that they go into the 2014 European elections with the most absurdly childish party "manifesto" I've ever seen (a 12 page document, five pages of which are taken up by pictures, and the rest containing nothing more than a few unsubstantiated bullet points and pro-UKIP quotations).


Anyone who actually bothers to check out the Green Party manifesto, and then takes a look at the ludicrous UKIP "manifesto" will be left in absolutely no doubt about which is a serious political party with actual policies, and which is a bunch of absolute charlatans pretending to be a political party.


Everyone should be more-or-less familiar with the Green party position the environment, so here are some of the Green parties most interesting policies on non-environmental issues.
  • A referendum on membership of the EU: "I support a referendum on our membership of the EU because I am pro-democracy" - Green Party MP Caroline Lucas. "The Green Party is opposed to the objectives, structure and policies of the EU as currently constituted"- Green party policy document on the EU.
  • Renationalisation: The Green party has called for the renationalisation of the UK rail network and the energy companies. The vast majority of British people want these bits of national infrastructure run as not-for-profit public services, yet the Lib-Lab-Cons and UKIP all oppose renationalisation.
  • Opposition to TTIP: One of the strongest indicators that the Green party is a genuine alternative party, and that UKIP are a pack of charlatans, is the way that the Green party actively oppose the attack on our national sovereignty known as TTIP, whilst UKIP bang on and on about protecting our sovereignty, yet remain absolutely silent on TTIP (presumably in the hope that nobody notices that they refuse to oppose it).
  • Clamping down on tax-dodging: The Green party are strongly opposed to tax-dodging, and have repeatedly made the case that the majority of ideological austerity measures would be unnecessary if the government would just clamp down on the tens of billions of pounds per year siphoned out of the country by tax-dodging corporations and the super-rich.
In social and economic terms, the Green party occupies the traditional territory of the old Labour party, but they are quite a lot more libertarian than old Labour ever was.

If you're one of these people who believes the Labour party can be taken back from the orthodox neoliberals who usurped it in 1994, voting Green in the Euro elections might be your best option. A vote for the Green party would help to drag the Labour party back towards the left, just as a vote for UKIP helps to drag the Tory party ever closer to the extreme-right fringe.

If just one in every hundred people who didn't bother to vote in the last European elections decided to vote Green, they would easily force the Liberal Democrats into the embarrassment of a fifth place finish.


No2EU

If you are more left-wing than Margaret Thatcher was, and the single biggest issue for you in the Euro elections is that you oppose the EU, you should consider voting for the No2EU party. instead of UKIP.

The mainstream media oligopoly has been extraordinarily successful in convincing people that the EU is a leftist project, however the reality is that the EU is extremely right-wing and anti-democratic. Just think about it for a moment:
  • Would a leftist project make laws to prevent member states from renationalising state infrastructure?
  • Would a leftist project allow an unelected banking cartel (the ECB) to rule over Europe?
  • Would a leftist project have introduced anti trade union laws?
  • Would a leftist project have spent trillions of Euros bailing out the corrupt and insolvent banking sector, rather than financially supporting people and industries directly?
The famous left-wing politician Tony Benn was speaking out against the EU when Nigel Farage was still in nappies, yet somehow, a huge swathe of the British electorate has allowed themselves to be convinced by the right-wing press that the EU is run by left-wing bogeymen, and the only conceivable method of expressing their opposition to the EU is to vote for UKIP (Thatcherism on steroids). Neither of these things are true; the EU is run by the same kind of right-wing neoliberals that have taken control of the Lib-Lab-Con establishment political parties, and it is perfectly possible to express your discontent with the EU by voting for No2EU, rather than endorsing an extreme-right Thatcherite party.

National Health Action party

If you are deeply concerned about the way that the Tories have carved up the NHS and set about selling off the pieces to the private sector (including several major donors to the Tory party), despite their pre-election promises that they wouldn't reogranise or privatise the NHS, then you should consider voting for the National Health Action Party.

The major problem for the NHA Party is that they are only standing candidates in the London region, meaning that those of us who live outside London must choose one of the other left-wing parties to have expressed strong opposition to the Tories ideological destruction of the NHS (the Green party, No2EU, SNP, Plaid Cymru)

Scottish Nationalist Party & Plaid Cymru

I don't live in Scotland or Wales, so I can't vote for the SNP or Plaid Cymru. I certainly wouldn't want to patronise Scottish and Welsh people by writing an in-depth description of the pro-independence parties that they almost certainly know more about than me. I think it is fair to say that both of these parties occupy political territory far to the left of the Lib-Lab-Con Westminster establishment. Both parties have decent records of voting against the most grotesquely illiberal legislation put forward by the coalition government (Secret Courts, the Gagging Law, Iain Duncan Smith's retroactive money grab ...).

If you believe that your country should have independence (or much more political autonomy from London) you should consider voting for SNP or Plaid.

Pirate Party

The Pirate Party is standing candidates in the North West region, so if you live there, they are worth considering if you are bothered about issues like confronting mass state surveillance, promoting political transparency, safeguarding personal privacy, digital freedom and net neutrality.

Some people tend to dismiss the Pirate Party as a fringe group of no real importance, however they have managed to pick up elected representatives in 11 different countries so far (Germany, Sweden, Iceland, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Hungary, France, Austria, Croatia, Netherlands, Kosovo), so they are more than just the "joke party" that some people would like to pretend that they are.

Last time around the Pirate Party managed to pick up 4.5% of the vote in the North West region, so if just one in every 200 people who didn't bother voting last time around decided to vote Pirate Party this time around, they'd get more than enough votes to return the UK's first Pirate Party MEP.

"We want to see an end to mass surveillance. We want to see an end to treaties negotiated behind closed doors. We want to see digital rights and net neutrality protected. The best way to do this is to have a strong Pirate Party voice in the European Parliament." - Jack Allnut - Pirate party European Spokesman
Yorkshire First

Yorkshire has a larger population than Scotland, and an economy almost twice the size of Wales, however the region has no political autonomy. The Yorkshire First party proposes a regional assembly for the Yorkshire region in order to give Yorkshire folk some power over their own regional affairs, rather than allowing the Westminster clique to continue (mis)managing the region from down in London.

The Yorkshire First party claims to be "neither left nor right, just Yorkshire". If you live in Yorkshire and believe that the region should have more autonomy from London, you might want to consider voting for Yorkshire First.


Conclusion

In conclusion, I'll offer a bit of voting advice to anyone who is in the left-libertarian quadrant or the centre-ground on the political compass.

The two main parties to consider voting for are the Green party and the No2EU party. In my view the Green party is the better bet because they have a much stronger manifesto, they are much more likely to gain enough votes to return some MEPs, and they have a good chance of beating the appalling Liberal Democrats into 5th place.

If you are left-wing and anti-authoritarian, you should seriously consider voting Green.

If you are strongly opposed to the EU, but don't want to endorse an extreme-right Thatcherite party, you should consider voting No2EU.

There are also other parties to consider voting for if you live in specific regions: The Scottish National Party (Scotland), Plaid Cymru (Wales), National Health Action Party (London), Pirate Party (North West), Yorkshire First (Yorkshire).

Perhaps the most important piece of advice I can give you (no matter what your political orientation) is to learn something about the actual candidates before you cast your vote.

  • Which of the candidates looks like they will best represent your interests?
  • Which of the candidates have genuine life-experience and come from honest backgrounds (rather than career politicians, or lobbyists/investment bankers turned politicians)?
  • Which of the candidates have articulated coherent alternative views on a wide range of issues?

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