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The electoral system has begun to crumble

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…?