Tuesday, June 02, 2009


I don't know about you, but I've had quite enough of positive politics. I have endured as much looking forward and not back as I can stomach. And if I have another bite of change I can believe in, my vital organs will rise up in mutiny and have it out with the host in an orgiastic gorefest that will make 300 look like a children's party. As to the whole business of positivity, forwardlookingness and changiness, you can keep it. Do what you like with it. Fuck it with a prize-winning turnip and put it on Youtube for all I care. Just don't bother me with it. This is by way of saying that when you vote in the European elections this Thursday, it should be on a negative, awkward, and obstructionist basis. It should be a vote designed to delay, sandbag, stonewall, frustrate, hamstring and bloody well barricade. No to the EU, no to neoliberalism, no to the fash - this our troika. No offense to the excellent antifascists at Searchlight, but I am tempted to raise the slogan: "Hate not Hope".

Recent polls [pdf] have shown that parties collectively designated 'Other' have a historically high combined vote of 21%. Worryingly, the BNP have the support of about 5% [pdf] of voters, although this is reduced if you count only those certain to vote. This represents a state of flux and fragmentation in the base of the main parties, so there is a good chance of improving representation for the left. For that reason, I have been perusing the array of possibilities for left-wing voters. There is, of course, No2EU, supported by the RMT, the Socialist Party, and the Respect Party. Though I fundamentally disagree with their stance on migrant labour and their bewilderingly polyannaish approach to the 'British Jobs for British Workers' strikes, they are doing their best within the terms of a flawed argument. They defend public services, oppose the Lisbon Treaty, defend workers' rights, oppose racism against asylum seekers and Muslims, and have daringly chosen Bob Crow - one of the most demonised figures in British politics - as their figurehead. They may as well have picked Abu Hamza. For sheer chutzpah, I like it. There is just one problem - they have about as much chance as an ex-choirboy in a Roman Catholic seminary that has recently appointed Father 'Fingers' O'Flahertie as its dean and has as its slogan 'We come in all shapes and sizes'. I don't just mean that they won't get a sizeable enough vote to make that 'no' loud enough. I mean that they are obviously not a durable coalition and therefore it might even be cruel to encourage them with your meagre gesture of support. Still, a vote for them is a vote for the left, and my understanding is that in some cases the PR system is such that any vote for a small party will help thwart the BNP. [Not in the vast majority of cases, though. As it turns out, a vote for No2EU will probably split the left vote in the last round and thus give the BNP a seat - see the comments thread].

Then there is the Green Party. They are reasonably big-hitters in the polls, and are the main left-of-centre party to benefit from the accumulated disaffection and polarisation brought about by the recession and the recent parliamentary scandals. Yougov polls usually give them between 4 and 6% of the vote, although some ComRes polls give them over ten percent and, though I can't vouch for this, the Greens are claiming that a new poll to be released tomorrow will give them 15% and place them ahead of the Liberal Democrats. Admittedly, they do have a rather unpleasant liberal leadership, and they dabble in appallingly pious and vacuous rhetoric. (They are, apparently, "the only party bold enough to set out a positive vision". I hope I am not the only party bold enough to jab two fingers in that vision.) But still, give them their due: their call for a 'Green New Deal', with increased public investment and low-cost housing, isn't at all bad. They are opposed to neoliberalism and propose to boost the welfare state with a citizens' income, precisely the opposite of the current trajectory. They propose to revise the posted workers' directive so that it doesn't undermine national pay and conditions agreements, oppose the UK's opt-out from the working time directive, and generally favour workers' rights. And unlike other European Green parties, they haven't yet descended into humanitarian imperialism. By no means as traditionally left-wing as No2EU, they're still a decent 'no' vote.

The last chance saloon is, of course, New Labour. They are going to be destroyed and, to be frank, they deserve it. As cynical as they are contemptible, as weak as they are nasty, they represent the nadir of British reformism. You really have to be in a desperate position if you're going to throw your vote at this miserable shower. You'd have to be stuck with a choice between them, UKIP, the BNP, and the Tories. And imagine how dirty you're going to feel after rewarding this pathetic tribe of Third Way sycophants. If they're the only way to keep out the far right, then by all means give your vote to the most right-wing component of the Party of European Socialists. But that is like paying off a protection racket, impoverishing yourself to forestall grievous bodily harm. So if you have to do that, please remember how it felt, and redouble your efforts toward ensuring that you are never left with a choice like that again.

Well, that's it as far as I can see. Those are your options. And even as you prepare to vote 'no', remember that for the European Union 'no' means 'yes' until they're forced to see things differently. Your vote matters, but it matters less than what you do about it afterwards.