Ed Miliband has resigned. Nick Clegg has resigned. Nigel Farage has resigned. If the General Election were a gladiator-style battle, David Cameron would now be emerging from the arena, covered in his rivals’ blood to the shrill cheers of Daily Mail readers. That’s what this election felt like – a vicious attempt by all the parties to battle for Britain’s soul, with clearly varying degrees of success.
39% of Brits have chosen our next government. Stagnant economic growth, a soaring deficit, suicides related to welfare reform, a rising homelessness rate, a rising child poverty rate, social cleansing in London, tax cuts for millionaires, fewer protections for human rights – British voters have declared, loud and clear, that they are happy for five more years of this, and are happy to condemn further people to economic misery, even death. Every Tory voter in 2010 has blood on their hands, and by the end of this term, those hands will be dripping wet.
One of the first seats to be announced was certainly not a sign of things to come.
The finger of blame is already wagging in social media, looking for someone on the left to accuse. Is it Miliband’s lack of personality? Is it Clegg’s support for austerity? But with haemorrhaged Lib Dem votes, an uninspiring Labour Party, and a Green Party strangled by the electoral system, it is clear what the real villain of this election is: The electoral system. A winner-takes-all snatch and grab game which undermines our democracy by essentially making us a two-party state.
The only three parties that offer anything like an alternative are the Green Party, Plaid Cymru and the SNP, the latter of which won all but three seats in which it stood. One is strangled by the electoral system, and the other two do not stand seats across the UK, making it impossible to be the British counterparts to socialist parties like SYRIZA in Greece and Podemos in Spain. The economic and social conditions for a peaceful political revolution are present in the UK, but the political ones aren’t: An SNP inability to stand candidates in England & Wales means we won’t see a European-style sweeping landslide any time soon, and Plaid Cymru has yet to match the success of Scottish nationalism in Wales.
If we had a form of proportional representation, UKIP may have gained up to 71 seats, the Greens up to 25.
Many are now desperately looking for something to do, some way to mitigate the loss and avoid the brunt of the pain that the cruel, vultureous Tories will inflict on us. The Labour Party leader has resigned and for all intents and purposes the party has temporarily retreated into the shadows. The Liberal Democrats have all but been annihilated, and it will take generations to recover from their losses. In terms of party structure there isn’t much for the left to do but sit and wait for some resuscitation, but we are not completely powerless.
A handy tool, Write To Them, allows you to send a letter to your representatives, free of charge. I have used this service in the past and gotten either an email or written response. WTT is the key to holding this government, which refuses to hear us, to account.
If you now live in a Tory constituency, the contents of your letter should be obvious. Demand an immediate end to the Bedroom Tax and a reversal of the Jobcentre sanction quotas, and ask them what they plan to do about the soaring rise in food bank use. Not that it will do much good, but also push for their views on electoral reform. The party that wins elections using First Past The Post isn’t going to scrap it, but we need to tell them that electoral reform is on our minds nonetheless.
If you now live in a Labour constituency, you may think your role in this is over, but it isn’t. Labour MPs can be relied upon to be suddenly populist and left-wing in the face of an election, but outside of the spotlight, they have a tendency to be as vicious as the Tories. Only five Labour MPs voted against George Osborne’s £30 billion cuts package, a mistake that cannot be repeated in the next crucial five years. Write to your Labour MP and demand that they oppose any and all measures which would create further public spending cuts or damage the already shaky standing of the poor. If and when they betray us again, send another letter, asking them how they can justify their actions.
In the meantime, by-elections may be the key to slowly chipping away at Cameron’s majority, piece by piece. Unlikely to force another election, but the fewer Westminster Tories harming the vulnerable, the better. Cameron will also be at the mercy of his backbenchers, which could prevent him from implementing his most heinous plans. And there is the matter of a democratic EU referendum and the introduction of a £10,000 government loan for Masters students. Some small victories amidst a smorgasbord of hideousness and vitriol against those who need our support the most.