Friday, 28 April 2017

5 Reasons Britain is finished without a left-centre coalition

In his recent piece for the Guardian, Tony Blair finished with the words "This is not the time to fight a conventional partisan election." And even though I disagree with the tone of the piece (and his politics in general, the warmongering media-prostitute), I do agree with the sentiment - this is going to be an election unlike any other, simply because of the sheer amount of critical issues riding on it.

Because of this, I've dispensed with the usual flowery prose and I'm going to try and keep it straightforward - partly because it's important, and partly because we've got starlings nesting in the loft again and every few minutes are punctuated by mindless, ear shattering screeching for attention.

Picture unrelated. (source)

I believe that one of the many ways both the Remain and the pro-AV campaigns shot themselves in the foot was by playing too 'nice.' The leaflets for the anti-AV campaign were brightly coloured, two sided flyers laying out horror stories and shock tactics; whereas the pro-AV literature was just a politely worded letter which went largely unopened. Similar problems with the pro/anti EU literature as well.

So for this piece, I'm laying it out as a listicle. I've given it an attention grabbing headline. I've done away with my usual disdain for these 'cheap tactics' because this election is too important for the left's usual Cinderella complex; hoping their inherent goodness will win the day, and then taking the high ground when it doesn't.

The stakes are too high this time, and here's why:


We can all agree the Tory record on human rights has been horrendous over the last eight years. From disability cuts, their attempts to revive Victorian slave labour and tax policies disproportionately punishing the poor, they have already proven that they see human rights as something for the rich, not for middle and working class people.

Tory policy has lead to a divided populace, where half the country is unable to spend and keep the economy moving, and the other half is hording everything in offshore tax havens. Money isn't moving through the economy, and our national debt has roughly tripled.

However, Conservative policy has always leaned hard on tax breaks for the rich and a fiscal policy of punishing those they think aren't 'working hard enough.' So why is this election any different?

Because the Tories are about to write themselves a blank cheque. 

In the case of the disability cuts and their attempts at bringing in workfare, they were overruled because of the protections given to us by the European Court of Human Rights. And if Ms. May gets in as prime minister, she will have the popular support she needs to argue for the kind of 'hard brexit' where we no longer have that oversight.

And this isn't a leftist concern, this is something that's actually going to happen. The Great Repeal Bill is coming after Brexit, which will give the Tories the opportunity to pull all current EU legislation into British law, and then (more importantly) pick and choose the parts they want to keep and dump without a vote in parliament.

The Tories have long maintained in their last few manifestos that they want to write their own British Bill of Rights, using their usual dirty trick of sticking the word 'British' in front of things to gain automatic support from the 'patiotic' right. You don't need to imagine what that would mean for British workers.

This, but Poundland uniforms. (source)

We've already seen what they've tried and failed to push through, even with European oversight and the right of parliament to vote against it. With free reign over our definitions of human rights, they can finally get rid of as many workers rights as they like - maternity leave, optional overtime and holiday allowance are all on the chopping black.

This is especially worrying in light of their previous election manifesto, which says they want closer ties with countries like China and India, where human rights abuses over their working class have led to spiraling levels of suicide, workplace accidents and even deaths.

More concerning is May's recent cosying-up to Saudi Arabia, one of the few countries which still allows a form of modernised slavery, namely Indentured Servitude. Which sounds a lot like where we're headed with Workfare, come to think of it.  

If the Tories get in this June, we will lose our last line of defence against rampant abuse of British workers. 


If nothing else shows the way the Tories see this country, it's the NHS. People love and rely on a health service that's free at the point of care, and yet that's the very thing that the Tories hate about it. They resent paying for the poor and getting nothing in return - they've shown as much with the way they treat the sick and disabled. To them, the country is simply a cashflow; taxes in, services out.

Over the last few years, the Tories have stripped the NHS of funding and resources, dragging it to the brink of crisis so that they can justify handing it over to private firms. Firms, coincidentally, in which MPs from Jeremy Hunt to David Cameron have financial interests. It's not to sell off 'underperforming' services, it's to carve up chunks of British infrastructure and sell it to their mates.

And just as before, this isn't just a prediction about what will happen. The NHS is now taking it's first steps into privatisation, with services now being handed over to Virgin Care in the Bath and North-East Somerset areas. If the Tories get in again, they'll continue to pass key services over to private interests, and they won't be nice, friendly faces like Richard Branson in future.

Pictured left (source)

I've worked for the NHS, and one of the biggest problems it's always had is that the management is run by people with backgrounds in corporate business, who are unable to see anything outside of cashflow. At the end of the day, if that means cutting services or less profit, choices will be made based on cost rather than care, and patients lose out. They also come up with idiotic ideas like making hospitals and departments 'compete' with each other.

It's still early days, and the contracts are not set in stone. Only a few services have been handed over, and an opposition party could easily start the process of reversing out of privatisation.

But if the Tories get in this June, we'll likely lose the NHS as we know it.


And here's where we move on to another reason this election sits at the pinnacle of change, because of a worrying trend rising worldwide, a trend which it may be our last chance to stop.

The left has a problem with publicity, where it seems to believe that the right thing to do is present the facts to the public unbiased, and let them make their own minds up. And we as a country lose out to the liars every damn time because of it.

Theresa May has thrown herself into the idea of a hard Brexit, despite being opposed to it before the vote. The Conservatives are using every opportunity to call themselves 'the party of the working people,' when all signs show they're about to throw workers rights out of the window, and their opposition's name is literally a synonym for work.

Or starve them. Or let them die. (source)

But still they keep saying it. Last election they carted round a bus saying they were going to give £350m a week to the NHS, and then as soon as the election happened, everyone was standing round desperately trying to distance themselves from the literally huge lie that they'd all been proudly campaigning with.

The Conservatives and Lib Dems keep saying that Labour has no plan on brexit, when a simple search of Labour's website, twitter and Facebook pages would show that they've had a constantly updating and evolving plan since the vote was announced. And the modern trend of 'twitter journos' repeating whatever appears on their newsfeeds without fact checking have led to the wide dissemination of these lies.

This is different to politicians simply exaggerating, or twisting facts. This is outright lying, and the Tory right is front and centre in the whole debacle. But the simple fact is that they don't have to care, because the two biggest papers in the UK - the Sun and the Mail - are run by right wing billionaires desperate to keep the tax dodges that they rely on the Tories for.

The UK is also ranked 40th in the world for press freedom, below South Africa and the Czech Republic. At the moment it's unclear whether it's this bias that means Labour and the Greens are simply not getting airtime, or if it's a problem with Labour's press office.

But if the Tories get in this June, you're just showing them that it works.


Theresa May cares so little about having to fact check or correct her own message, she's not even willing to appear in the televised leadership debates. Instead she's been taking part in heavily stage-managed press appearances spouting the only two buzzwords she seems to know.

But I have to applaud her on this one, because she's taking advantage of the massive divisions in leftist politics.

At the debates, if she doesn't show up, it means the participants will most likely be Labour, the Lib Dems, Greens, and probably the SNP and UKIP (despite the latter not having any MPS, but hey, they make good TV). That means May will be able to sit back and gloat, slipping a statement into the press the following day highlighting the petty divisions between Labour, the Greens and the Lib Dems.

Who, as we all know, are always treated fairly by the press (source)

And the parties are divided. That's the real trick to this election. A leftist voter will have the choice between Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens, and depending on which progressive agenda is most important to them (human rights or the environment), they'll vote for one of the three parties. But a right-leaning voter only has the Conservatives. If we assume the country is divided 50/50 left and right, that means the conservatives will win 50% of the vote, and the other three parties get to share around 16% each.

So simple mathematics seems to show that if you need a majority to be in power, the left needs to discuss an alliance. And yet they haven't.

Caroline Lucas of the Greens is the only party leader discussing an alliance so far. Tim Farron has swung from refusing to rule out an alliance with the Tories, to ruling out an alliance with any other party. Corbyn has been quoted as ruling out an alliance with 'any rival parties' as well, while discussing the SNP; although it remains to be seen if he considers the Lib Dems and Greens 'rivals.' And the SNP are pretty much untouchable thanks to the Sun's scare tactics last election.

For the reasons stated above, this is absolutely unacceptable. 

Now is not the time for bickering over Trident, or other minor policy differences. Now is not the time for Tim Farron or Jeremy Corbyn to hold onto a desperate hope that they can somehow lead the country on their own. Worldwide, there has been a rise in right wing politics, leading to the decimation of workers rights, LGBT rights and women's rights. May has demonstrated nothing more than a blind willingness to excuse and pander to increasingly right-wing leaders worldwide, regardless of their political leanings.

I'm probably going to be murdered in my sleep for this, but at this point frankly I await the sweet embrace of death (source)

When the Liberal Democrats formed a coalition with the Tories, they maintained as a centrist party that they negotiated a few leftist policies they wanted, and managed to prevent the worst of the Tories right wing excess. But the simple fact is that by allying with the Tories, they enabled all of the horrific policies against the sick, disabled and unemployed that the Tories did enact. If they hadn't formed the coalition, it would have gone back to the vote, and the Tories might not have gotten in at all.

And we find ourselves in the same place now. Labour and the Greens on the left, and the Lib Dems in the centre-left are all fighting their own corners, bad-mouthing the other parties to steal voters from them. But while the left works on dividing it's own vote, the right works on consolidating theirs. 

So if the Tories get in this June, the world will lose another country to the right. The privatisation of the NHS will likely become irreversable. Lies will further be proven to be the way to win an election.  The Tories might decide to redraw the boundaries again, gerrymandering out any hope of Labour ever winning an election on their own, in which case the left is dead in the water. 


That's why this election is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. That's why the parties of the left and centre need to stop fighting among themselves and form a coalition, because what we will lose as a country if the Tories get in is far, far more important than any of the issues that currently divide them.

For my part, I have supported Labour in the past for their pursuit of worker's rights, and I have supported the Greens for their less extreme policies on the environment. I voted for the Lib Dems the year they allied with the Tories and was livid at them for doing so, because above all else in my personal political views, I do not want the Tories in power.

My ideal vote in an election would be a -1 to the Tories to reduce their vote, because whichever left-centrist party gets in, they won't be as bad as the conservatives. 

That is why, to paraphrase Tony Blair, "This is not the time for conventional party politics." To stop the worst excesses of the right, the left and centre must band together, because this might be our last chance to do so.


Just to quickly remind you of the numbers. (source)

You can make sure you register to vote. As the image above shows, the amount of people who didn't register to vote is massive, outnumbering the total number of votes for any other party. If even half of the people who didn't vote last time voted in this election, it could change everything completely.

You can write to your MPs. If they're Conservative, bad luck; but for the other parties, your MP could be the swing vote. If the overall atmosphere in the house starts to shift, I can guarantee you most MPs are cowards who don't want to be on the wrong side of history. And if enough MPs start making enough noise about an alliance, it could very well happen.

If you're not sure who to vote for, fill out a quick online survey about who's policies you agree with. If you don't agree with anyone's policies, leave your form blank - that still sends a powerful statement to Westminster when going over the results, showing there is a HUGE demographic that nobody's catering for, so that a centrist party can chase those votes.

Or, if like me, you just want the Tories out, vote Labour. Find out how to vote tactically in your local elections to unseat your local Tory MP.

Most importantly, talk to people in real life about this. The echo chambers of Facebook and Twitter tend to mean our best efforts online are drowned out by people complaining about all the politics or absorbed within the echo-chambers created by Facebook's algorithms and our own, carefully curated lists of people who tend to post the things we like.

But the largest demographics in this election won't be getting their news online. 

They'll be getting it from the Sun, or the Mail, or your racist uncle who's never fact-checked a single thing he's ever said. My nan's not racist, but I had a conversation with her about Labour's attitudes to the minimum wage. My parents have gone from not really understanding the issues to excitedly discussing them with friends they've never talked to about politics before. Things are changing.

The trick is not to attack. If you meet someone with right wing opinions, we're taught to humour them, or angrily cut them off without engaging. Well, let's give that thought it's marching orders. Correct people. Google some statistics to back up what you're saying. Show them snippets from this article, or any linked from it. Open up the conversation and don't be in the silent majority any more.

Because if there's one thing I want you to take away from this piece, it's that in 2017, we cannot let the Tory party continue to do damage to this country for their own gain.

So vote, you beautiful fuckers, vote!