Election choice isn’t as ‘stark’ as David Cameron wants you to think

How many of these will have a say in the next UK government, because Labour and the Conservatives won't offer what the electorate wants?

How many of these will have a say in the next UK government, because Labour and the Conservatives won’t offer what the electorate wants?

According to the BBC, “David Cameron is to tell voters they face a ‘stark choice’ between him and Labour’s Ed Miliband as the election campaign officially gets under way.”

Really? So it’s just a two-horse race again, is it? This writer disagrees.

People are sick of the Tories’ right-wing politics, that take from the many and give to the few – overbalancing the economy in the process. How many measures have been put in place to keep the ship of state from overturning since George Osborne became chancellor? Too many.

Tories have inflicted a massive rise in appallingly poorly-paid jobs, triggering consequential rises in housing benefit claims and food bank use.

They say they have cut the national deficit by half, but in numerical terms it is only down by a third, and now it is rising again. The national debt has doubled under the Conservatives. Responsible government? Not a bit of it!

Meanwhile, Labour has a better offer, but simply isn’t saying what people want to hear – basically out of fear that it will scare them off. Ever hear of the ‘Overton Window’? It’s a concept devised by American conservatives to describe what is deemed politically possible at any time. At the moment, that window opens onto ideas that are very much in the right wing of the political spectrum, presenting the illusion that they are moderate, middle-ground views.

Owen Jones, in his latest book The Establishment, makes the point clear: “When Labour’s Ed Miliband proposes a temporary energy price freeze – a welcome, albeit pretty unremarkable, policy – it is portrayed by media and right-wing politicians as crypto-Marxism, even though most voters support a far more radical option: renationalising the energy industry lock, stock and barrel.”

This criticism can be applied to many Labour policies: They are timid. They are too concerned with what can be seen through the Overton Window. They are made in fear of a backlash from the right-wing press.

So when Labour says it will “reform” the work capability assessment, this flies in the face of public opinion that demands its abolition altogether and reform – real reform – of the benefit system as a whole, to serve the British population and not private industry.

When Labour says it will make public spending cuts – but they won’t be as harsh as those imposed by the Conservatives, this flies in the face of public opinion that demands an end to austerity altogether; in fact, it seems possible that Labour can achieve its plans simply by reversing the tax cuts for the very rich that the Tories have made over the last five years.

Neither of the ‘Big Two’ parties are offering what the public wants – and this means the door is open for the smaller parties.

Even the BBC’s arch-Tory Nick Robinson acknowledges this, in his first blog after returning to work post-medical procedures.

“With the polls so close, with the inexorable decline of the big two parties, with the widespread hunger for a different type of politics the range of election outcomes is bewildering. They go way beyond single party governments led by David Cameron or Ed Miliband or another coalition with Nick Clegg.”

They do indeed. With the rise in support for the SNP in Scotland – due to a collapse of confidence in a Labour Party that many Scottish voters no longer see as representing them (we’re back to that Overton Window again; it seems Labour has been looking through it in the wrong direction), Labour is unlikely to win a majority as matters currently stand. The Tories can’t win one in any case.

So we’re looking at coalition deals, confidence-and-supply votes, and the possibility of extremely unstable governments for the foreseeable future.

It seems unlikely that these will have any staying power. The Coalition went the distance because the Liberal Democrats turned out to be more yellow than their party colour, and did whatever their Tory masters told them, simply to hold on to a bit of power, some ministerial salaries and a few ministerial cars.

Future partners in government could include the nationalists (Welsh and Scottish), the Greens, the DUP – and they’ll all be much more strident in announcing what they want because they’ll know that, without their support, the government will be powerless to act.

The ‘Big Two’ parties need to learn a lesson from this (although they probably won’t).

This is what happens when you offer people what you want, rather than what they want.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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9 thoughts on “Election choice isn’t as ‘stark’ as David Cameron wants you to think

  1. seanbarlow

    As someone on benefits because of disabilities, I see it as no choice at all. It has to be Labour. The Conservatives want to abolish the social security net, and none of the other parties have a concrete policy apart from Labour.

  2. Daniel

    An excellent post Mike, and so absolutely true! This, of all elections, is one where everyone’s vote could make the difference – so what we need is everyone to exert their democratic right, regardless of what’s on the Telly!

  3. john keen

    It would be nice if Labour could state the “bleedin’ obvious”.

    That is that austerity is self defeating,

    As the Coalition cut back people’s incomes and reduce tax as a salve for the lack of income, they cut back on public spending and thereby on the tax income for the government and therefore they have less to spend on government spending so they need to cut back peoples incomes.
    A never ending circle until a disappearing act generally considered impossible is achieved.

    What is needed today and for the next few years is investment, not austerity.

    A major house-building policy would be unpopular with the house market but very popular with the public as a whole, the downside is it would cause a drop in house prices but the upside is it would produce a drop in house prices… this means that those already paying for houses will be trapped with a mortgage for the costs of buying a house before the building started but new buyers would benefit from the lower mortgages.

    This house building would also reduce unemployment since a large number of workers would be required.

    Control over the profits any company can pass to its shareholders and CEOs needs to be considered, so as to make sure that those working to make those profits get a decent wage for doing so without destroying the incentive for investers.
    The investers’ returns may be lower but they would also be more stable.

    To push for a higher minimum wage is a double win for the country because it would mean higher tax returns for the government and a lower burden on the country to pay “in-work benefits” ie the Government truly making work pay, for the worker as well as the government.

    A serious look at the problem of outsourcing needs to taken. The question of how a business set up to make a profit can be more cost-effective than a not-for-profit one needs to be asked.

    The gradual and continued privatization of the NHS is again self-defeating and causes an ever increasing strain on what remains of the NHS in public hands.

    The NHS was never set up to have so heavy need for admin to deal with outside business, billing and invoicing… Given that ALL services within the NHS as an expense were considered as one total then only wages, land, power, transport and supplies were needed to be considered as a cost, the point being the more companies you deal with, the more paperwork needs to be handled and the more staff required to do so… if you’re a single entity then that paperwork is reduced, less spending on admin and more for the actual work the admin admins….you get the point, YES I know it is not that simple in practice but I’m damned if I’m going to sit here boring everyone with the fine detail… bleh!

    We now own a couple of the banks that needed to be saved from their own criminality; good. Keep them, nationalise them completely, DO NOT SELL THEM OFF to the very same idiots that screwed them up.

    If ANY of the high flying CEOs and corporations wish to move offshore then BYE… but unless you’re here to pay your proper dues in tax we do not need you. Do not make the mistake, as many before you have, of thinking you are irreplaceable; you’re not, plenty more where you came from and probably a few better, more than delighted to take your place.

    Final point, as this could go on for many pages, the shrinking of Government makes no bloody sense whatsoever!

    Ever growing population requires less government?….really? today’s population can be handled by the same number of government staff as were needed eighty years ago?

    1. sibrydionmawr

      Personally I think a case could quite easily be made about the issue of property prices falling, (through the floor even) in that for the vast majority of home owners it is having a home of their own that is the issue, and not the increase in value. If relative values remained, then the flexibility of movement would be maintained, with house owners still being to scale down when desired. What would be the big change would be in overall affordability, as if prices are depressed and reflect the cost of provision, then more ordinary people would be able to own their own homes, should they so desire, though this would need to be underpinned by social housing that is available to everyone, as was the council housing immediately post WW2. In fact, social housing was aspirational until the 1980s when it became an issue of housing need alone, and started to disallow those earning above an income threshhold. This amounted to a form of social engineering, which seems to have become part and parcel of the regime’s social control, as now social landlords are running many of the government’s schemes aimed at tenants of housing associations, as they increasingly become providers of last resort. Had it remained that social housing was available to all, and being provided (i.e. built) according to demand, this would ensure that a cross section of people would rent for a whole host of reasons and also serve to out a brake on house price inflation as there would be a viable, and affordable alternative. The UK badly needs massive reforms in the area of land use and housing provision that I think requires the removal of land and housing from the market at a fundamental level.

      It seems to me that housing is very much overpriced, both in terms of the actual cost in building matrerials, and especially in terms of land cost. In the 1930s, when many ordinary people, ( e.g. postmen according to one study) embarked on buying their own homes, the land cost element averaged at 2% of final cost. Today that stands at around 70% of final cost. The argument goes that this is due to land ‘scarcity’ but that’s hardly an issue when one considers that only 10.6% of England, 1.9% of Scotland, 3.6% of Northern Ireland, and 4.1% of Wales are urban, (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18623096). This is not to argue that land use is not an issue, it very much is, but even if urban areas were considerably extended (say by 50%) it would still leave the vast majority of the land mass as non-urban landscape..0

      A house building programme would stimulate the economy in many different ways, but again as there is so little industry producing the products we typically put in our homes, the benefits to the whole economy wouldn’t be as great as they could be were the washing machines, the TV sets and furniture we put in our houses manufactured in the UK.

      1. john keen

        Don’t get me started, I did say I could go on for many pages worth… basically put, a lack of investment in Great Britain has been allowed and a pursuance of investment overseas has been encouraged instead,
        Made in Britain is not a bad or racist achievement but a matter of Pride in the UK. therefore investment in the UK is needed as it benefits UK.
        There is a lot more to that but not robbing this Blog… trying to build the courage to start my own so sorry mike for any abuse of this one….

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        A lack of investment? Duncan Bannatyne and more than 100 other business leaders think differently, according to a letter in the Daily Telegraph.
        What a bunch of self-serving gits.
        If you want to start a blog, go right ahead. I’ll publicise your posts if I like them!

  4. Gary

    Cameron MUST present this as a ‘stark choice’. They have a fear of UKIP keeping them out and so, want to scare them back to the fold. In their own opinion, unless they can do this, they’re finished. The polls are presenting this as a win-win for Labour. Either Labour gets a majority or it gets supported by smaller parties who are more in tune with them than the LibDems were with the Tories.

  5. Thomas

    Whatever happens the Lib Dems are toast. I am in a very safe Tory seat so I might just vote TUSC as my vote is unlikely to make a difference.

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