This general election 2015 is being fought by two major parties on spurious grounds because it is not in either’s interest to speak of the real issues. Superficially Labour and Conservatives seem to have only marginal differences in policy and plans.
The electorate should be focusing on an entirely different and ideological difference between them. The current Tory hierarchy are firmly in the Chicago, Milton Friedman, School of economics. They are not pursuing austerity as a means of reducing the deficit. They are intent on rolling back the state and public sector and passing as much public provision of services into private ownership as possible. Naomi Klein in her book, The Shock Doctrine (2007) documents many instances of this ideological takeover of the public sector from South America to South Africa. One characteristic is that the Chicago School often take advantage of catastrophic events to move in; hence the excuse of the2007-8 financial crash was an absolute godsend to the Tories. Against that background the austerity is immaterial. What matters is privatising the state and reducing state funding of benefits and handouts. The squeeze on benefits by the present Department of Work and Pensions ministers will not be relaxed by them if they are still in power after the election even if there is an economic upturn. We are also largely ignorant of the true nature of TTIP and the dispute resolution mechanism. The present Conservative administration would never obstruct any piece of this Treaty that impeded the easy takeover of UK services by American and other foreign global corporations. The ultimate prize is the NHS in England, Wales and Scotland. Privatisation is of course well under way in England and Wales.
What does surprise me is that the Civil Service appear to be aiding and abetting this process as if they do not realise that their own jobs are already on the privatising list. It may be a bit farfetched but our armed forces could readily fit a privatised model much as private security companies came to dominate Iraq. The new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elisabeth could become HMS Serco Queen Elisabeth.
So a vote for Conservatives in May is a vote to hand Britain into the laps of the global corporations.
What of Labour? Well they should be socialist, even if only with a lower case s but their record when last in government was almost anything but. It was much more a continuation of the Thatcher years than the John Major interregnum. Both Blair and Brown played to the corporate gallery more than the working class stalls. Ed Balls has promised if he becomes Chancellor of the Exchequer to honour the recent Osbourne budget. What a contrast with the new Greek government who would sweep austerity away. It should be remembered that some of the elements of Tory austerity such as a clamp down on benefits, the laissez faire attitude to the financial sector, privatisation of some NHS services and the encouragement of the private sector generally were all started under Gordon Brown’s Chancellorship and of course Ed Balls was then his right-hand man. It could be that Ed Milliband is really much more of a socialist than New Labour but so far there is not much evidence of this. At best a vote for Labour might be a vote for Tory Lite.
So for Scots to vote for either main party might land them with a government which goes against the grain of Scottish ideas of a fair and caring society. While many voters might not agree with SNP aspirations and ambitions, they could be the only party to take cognisance of Scottish concerns and interests when voting in the Westminster parliament. So the bigger the bloc of SNP MPs the better will the Scottish perspective be kept on the agenda. For many English voters unaware of the true nature of the main parties a moderate left party with the people of Scotland as their main focus might also rescue English politics from the current Neoliberalism.
That the SNP tail might wag the English dog is of course pure scaremongering. Both Labour and the Conservatives saw how effective this tactic was in securing a No vote in the September referendum and so are using the same weapon again. The Liberal Democrats had but a marginal effect on the Tory juggernaut during the Coalition years. If Alex Salmond were the leader of an SNP bloc he would be more effective than Nick Clegg but he would wise to bend with the wind in many negotiations. At best he would be able to modify any extreme policies to protect Scottish interests. Jim Murphy on Politics Now (BBC 22nd March) told Andrew Neil that the SNP might oppose their policies eliminating zero hours contracts, an increase in the minimum wage etc. That was a ludicrous desperate suggestion. And don’t for one minute think that either main party would not get into bed with a big enough SNP bloc. In spite of what the leaders may now say they will understand that real politik will create strange bedfellows. They have to at least be seen to make a genuine attempt to run a 5 year parliament. The party that calls a very early election by rescinding the Five Year legislation will be slaughtered at the polls That piece of bravado might yet come back to bite David Cameron.
With the possibility of a hung parliament and looking at the present manifestoes of the main parties it is very much in Scottish interests to vote for SNP. There is a likelihood of this leading to Independence but, if Westminster politics does not change, that may happen with or without SNP help. There is much more of an appetite for Independence in Scotland than just within the SNP ranks. The Unionist parties did more to hasten that during the referendum campaign than anything the SNP did. Their actions brought home to many people quite how perfidious the political spin and in some cases downright lies and scaremongering has become. Many politicians seem to have no morals when it comes to saving their own skins.
Amazing, the Tories have done it again – produced a poisoned chalice. William Hague on the Radio 4 Today Programme announce their proposal for EV EL. The Committee stages of an English only Bill would be voted on by just English MPs but the final 3rd Reading vote would be open to all MPs.
He stressed that this would give English MPs the power of veto over English only legislation. He never mentioned that non-English MPs might have a similar veto at 3rd Reading. What great spin. But also what a waste of time if a Bill were to fall at the last hurdle. So there would be great pressure and massive negative publicity if a Bill were to be voted down. Hence the poisoned chalice. What is more Hague never mentioned the House of Lords nor what would happen to a Bill which with some amendment might have passed into law.
It is quite possible after GE15 that Labour will be able to govern with the help of non-English MPs. If English MPs have a Tory majority then they could amend English legislation as it went through the committee stage so that it was unacceptable to Labour. What then? Effectively the Labour government would have no jurisdiction over English law making. What a nonsense.
Why can no politician have the guts or the vision to see that a federal solution is now the only solution as an alternative to Scottish Independence..
We now know the substance of David Cameron’s promise of Devo Max. If anybody thought that it would be any more than what it is they were being very naïve. It has been deliberately made as complicated and messy as it can be so that some voters at least may think the pre Referendum Better Together Vow has been upheld.
Let’s ensure that most people see it for what it is, a poisoned chalice.
The Westminster parties are now only interested in one thing, maximising English votes in May 2015. Shafting us along the way is a sideshow. Cameron is not remotely interested in Scottish votes because he knows he cannot make any gains here and, in spite of Murphy, my bet is that Milliband is feeling the same.