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The electoral system has begun to crumble

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Self

Will Self thinks the electoral system is well and truly broken...

The lesson we should all take from this election is to concentrate on the art of the possible – politicians always claim this position for themselves: “We’re pragmatic!” they cry. “Whatever is necessary to get the job done, we’ll do, irrespective of our ideology or convictions.” But they don’t mean it – pragmatism isn’t the same thing as the art of the possible; pragmatism is about saving their necks/careers/expense account, while the art of the possible is about understanding what can be achieved, and not pretending otherwise.

For the past 30 years economic inequality has been increasing – the Tories still cleave to the idea of ‘trickle down’, whereby the gold doubloons fall from the hands of the rich into the mouths of the poor; they cleave to it even though it’s failed; they cleave to it even as a food bank opens next to their duck pond. What’s required is a new and more powerfully redistributive tax system, and a series of credit controls to prevent our cities becoming mere investment opportunities, havens for so-called ‘flight capital’ (money fleeing instability and looking for a chunky and stable return).

Of course, any attempt to do this would result in a market implosion, and strained relations with just about every other country in the world. Does Presumin’ Ed admit this? No he does not – indeed both the major parties, and the minor ones as well, have fought this electoral campaign in a cynical and self-serving way, offering their respective electoral bases all sorts of sweeteners and hand-outs in lieu of the truth.

Naturally they believe that once elected they’ll be able to come cleaner, admit the larder’s empty, tighten their – and our – belts, and get on with Punch & Judy business as usual, but beware: that our electoral system, despite being highly divisive and adversarial, has nonetheless begun to crumble, is evidenced by the unfamiliar – and female! – faces lined up across our television screens for the leaders’ debates.

A major demographic shift is underway, which will have incalculable political results – something is going on here, but they don’t know what it is, do you Messrs Cameron, Miliband, Clegg, Farage and Mss Bennett and Sturgeon…?

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