UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Tory changes could mean election decided before we make it to ballot box

Recent trends reveal that aside from the usual trite, tedious, so called reality TV programmes, the biggest ITV ratings winner recently has been Downton Abbey. Apparently this appeals to a “nostalgic” streak in the British population. As the aristocracy has never been more than an insignificant part of the population, nostalgia seems to be a strange word to use.

11 million viewers cannot be nostalgic about a class system in which most of them, if they were anywhere nearly the big house at all, would definitely have been below stairs, humping coal, polishing the silver and otherwise attending to the most intimate needs of their masters in return for bed, board and poverty level wages. So like good populist fiction, rather it appeals to their escapist tendency rather than nostalgia.

So maybe that is why when the Tories try to pack the House of Lords, we have all become so escapist that no one protests. Cameron has just increased the number of Tories in the “Upper House “ by 54. He has only one aim here - to make it easier to to pass legislation through that chamber which still retains constitutional powers, such as the scrutiny and examination of government bills.

Cameron has a Con-Dem majority in the House of Commons and a majority in the Lords. It isn’t enough. Rich donors have to be rewarded. So the old politics continue to triumph. Do your best by the party and the party will do their best you. Blair wasn’t any different, but continuing with a wrong doesn’t make it right. At least Cameron promotes Tories. If only half the peers nominated by Labour had had any sort of politics. Most wouldn’t know the Labour Party if turned up to serenade them.

Well at least Blair left the House of Commons alone. Cameron is also trying to gerrymander the House of Commons by cutting the number of seats and fixing boundaries. But like believing that peers are useless old duffers in old-fashioned costumes, we’ve been inured to thinking that democracy is what happens once every five years when a general election is called. The trouble is that when we get to an election, the rules of the game have been set almost by sleight of hand.

The Left need to have a consensus on where they want the game to go, and make their case publicly, very, very publicly and every liberal worth that label needs to join them. That means opposing the electoral changes proposed by the Cameron – Clegg collective. Otherwise the next general election will be decided before a single elector ever makes it to the ballot box.