Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Luk√°cs

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Gary Younge on the British General Election


Most of the election conversations I hear are not about whom people would most like to vote in but whom they would most like to keep out. No longer are they being advised to wear a clothes peg on their nose to avoid the unfortunate odours emanating from the party they'll vote for, but to take the peg off so they can remind themselves just how bad the stench is on the opposing side.

For all the excitement about who will win, it is generally agreed the outcome in terms of people's lives will be fairly similar regardless. This is not particularly news to me, either. What seems different are the stakes involved regarding what comes next.

According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies we face austerity measures that will see massive attacks on public services and swingeing cuts in public sector jobs. The Conservatives would deliver the harshest cuts since the second world war; Labour the Liberal Democrats the deepest cuts since the seventies. the difference between the parties is a difference in scale and pace underpinned by a consensus in direction. As events in Greece, Spain and Portugal have shown this week it won't be the voters or the politicians who decide the extent of these cuts, but the markets.

A Financial Times/Harris poll last week found the country divided about cuts, with only half agreeing the public sector should be cut back. But the overwhelming majority, two-thirds, think they will happen regardless of which party is in office. This is an election about who wins, not what changes. People may want new politics but what they're going to get is a new government with a different mix of parties and maybe a different electoral system.

Full article here.

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