Monthly Archives: September 2013

Representation and Socialism

My friends and I have been fascinated with the Political Compass for a while but one thing that always bothered me was how the major parties, according to their charts and research, are not all that different. This made me think – If I’m not truly represented, how many people are? With this in mind I got some family and friends to do the PC Test and send me their results. The results, in my opinion, were unanimous. Even those who were to the right were still not truly represented never mind us poor lefties.

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With the two main parties, Labour and Conservatives, both in the top right and extremely close together is there any party with a chance at government who seems to represent the masses. It certainly doesn’t seem that way. Many people made the comment “well I guess I’ll start voting green then!”

But in a First-past-the-post voting system is that even viable? In my opinion there are probably three options.

1. We need an overhaul of the voting system. People who know me may know I voted ‘No’ to AMS last year. That is a decision I almost immediately regretted. My logic was that an AMS system may result in undesirable parties such as BNP and UKIP gaining a fair few number of seats, but why are the major parties all that more desirable. Granted, there isn’t the same degree of bigotry but at the end of the day it seems most parties are just looking after their rich buddies. If the AMS vote was to be held tomorrow I would vote ‘Yes’ without hesitation. When voting anything but Labour, Conservatives or SNP is viewed as a wasted vote there is something very wrong and how, in a democratic country, can a vote ever be a wasted one.

2. Labour needs to go back to ‘Old Labour’. Let’s face it, as a party that is still affiliated with Socialist International they’re pretty piss poor socialists. The Labour manifesto has not even contained the term ‘socialism’ since 1992 and yet this is meant to be our alternative to the Conservatives? What alternative is there actually being proposed when they’re still struggling to get away from Blairism. Thatcher was asked what her greatest achievement was, she replied, “Tony Blair and New Labour. We forced our opponents to change their minds.” Well now it’s time to change them back. Now it’s time to go back to ‘Old’ Labour. The change in Labour throughout the years is simply staggering.

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3. We need a new party on the left! This, I think, is the most important thing if not only as another option but to force Labour into thinking about their current ways and possibly changing them. There are of course a number of real left leaning parties such as the SSP and Respect but nothing with a solid leadership and the ambition to go to the masses. With growing movements such as the People’s Assembly this is starting to happen but it’s not nearly vocal and big enough. Without following Owen Jones on Twitter, a columnist for The Independent and self-proclaimed “fourth generation socialist”. I would never have even known The Peoples Assembly existed. However they still only have two groups in Scotland! One in Glasgow and one in Fife.

As I said before even the people I know on the right do not truly line up with the political parties nowadays and those on the left, well, they aren’t even close. Though one thing I found truly fascinating was although most people I talked to were left to very left many cringed at the idea of being a Socialist.

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(Ignore my appalling photoshop skills)

Why do people want to stay away from the term socialism so much? I put it down to the fact that it is often said as a form of extremism as is often the case in America. This is however not the case, socialism is not some big scary ideology that will take away all of your personal wealth and make sure you will get paid the same as the person the empties your bins twice a week. Communism is, incredibly, just the most extreme version of socialism. As fascism is the most extreme version of authoritarianism and anarchy of libertarianism. I also found that people (including myself) often look at capitalism and socialism as black and white when there are hundreds of shades of grey. As I say in my ‘About Me’ I believe in Social Democracy which is a sort of lovely mix of the two in which people have the ability to make personal fortunes but not at the detriment of their fellow man.

Unsurprisingly this brings me back to my first post. Just because some silly Republicans in America use socialism as an insult don’t be afraid of calling yourself one and before you dismiss it entirely, research it. It may not be as bad as you think.

For those of you interested the following chart is my results from the Political Compass and if you are interesting in taking the test yourself you can take it by going to –http://www.politicalcompass.org/test

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Feel free to post your test results and compare.

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Are UKIP Fascists?

Are UKIP fascists? It’s an interesting and certainly controversial question. To begin with I feel we must look at Dr Lawrence Britt’s fourteen characteristics of fascism. He studied a number of fascist regimes including Hitler, Mussolini, Suharto (Indonesia), Franco (Spain) and a number of Latin American regimes. While examining these he found fourteen common traits each of them shared.

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism – UKIP call themselves, “a patriotic party that believes in putting Britain first.” As well as having the Pound Stirling (£) sign as their party symbol. I do not believe UKIP are extreme Nationalists in the sense the Nazi party in Germany in terms of banners and flags everywhere you look but there is most definitely miss placed Nationalism.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Right – Now this we can give a nice pick tick! In their manifesto, under immigration they say as follows –

“UKIP would withdraw from the European Convention of Human… This would enable us to deport foreign criminal and terrorist suspects where desirable.”

Now call me sceptical but this seems rather harsh. The European Convention of Human Rights was put in place to protect human rights and to guarantee fundamental freedoms in Europe. Not only does this international treaty protect us from torture and slavery it also protects our right to a free trial, to privacy and to liberty and security.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause – UKIP regularly blame the EU for troubles in Europe. In fact he went as far as to blame the passing of the same-sex marriage bill (which I will come to later) on The Berlinguer Report of 2010. Farage claimed that paragraph 40 of the report would “establish an EU-wide right to same-sex marriage”. This, surprisingly, was not the case as you can see for yourself “…welcomes the Commission’s efforts to empower citizens to exercise their free movement rights and strongly supports plans to enable the mutual recognition of the effects of civil status documents…”

4. Supremacy of the Military – I’ll start this segment with these thoughts: Does Britain need a big military? Are we under constant threat from terrorism and war? If you asked me, I’d say no. However under Defence Budget Notes in UKIPs manifesto they promise another £10b to be put into the military in the next 5 years if elected in order to “restore threatened items”. This is the equivalent of 0.6% of our current GDP and would result in 76.3bn USD or 3.1% of our GDP being spent on military. After the 5 years the spending will then increase by £1b for additional operational running. Then even after all that they want to spend another £5bn to develop the multi-platform deterrent! (Of course they do, how silly of me.)

5. Rampant Sexism – Well I’m sure we all read the news but if not I’d like to introduce you to a lovely man called Stuart Wheeler, also known as the UKIP treasurer! He was quoted to say women were “nowhere near as good as men” at games such as chess, bridge and poker. This was said after the EU proposal for gender quotas in the boardroom.

6. Controlled Mass Media – UKIP are obviously not in power so I cannot comment on this one. However, seeing as they call themselves a libertarian party I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and say they wouldn’t do this.

7. Obsession with Nation Security – Reference back to No. 4.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined – Goody, goody! A personal favourite of mine! We’re not back on the case of same-sex marriage. One of their brilliant reasons for being anti-same-sex marriage is that it would offend the religion and people of faith. They seem to believe marriage in faith is more important that marriage in the eyes of the law. We all know that marriage is front and foremost a legally binding service which is why we must file for a divorce if said marriage goes sour and not just walk and the door shouting “IT’S OVER!” while stamping our feet.

9. Corporate Power is Protected – UKIP state in their manifesto that they would “put an end to most legislation regarding matters such as weekly working hours, holidays and holiday, overtime, redundancy or sick pay etc. and provide a statutory, standard, very short employment contract template.”  Now in my mind that simply puts power over to businesses to choose their own ‘employee rights’. Suddenly we enter an American system of having only a couple weeks holiday a year.

10. Labour Power is Suppressed – UKIP believe the central Government intervene too much in employment rights. They wish to leave it up to local tribunals “to build up a body of practical case law and real life examples on what is, and what is not, acceptable” UKIP claim these tribunals would work alongside employees and trade unions, however they have a reputation for kicking people out for having links to trade unions. David Smith, a retired teacher and bus driver was a former candidate in Devon claimed he was kicked from the party after being told his membership to the Nation Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers was a case of “mixed loyalties”.

11. Disdain of Intellectuals and the Arts – Sadly, I could not find much information under this category and while searching for information on their website about something as important about tuition fees all I could find was moaning about how Scottish students receive free higher education whilst English students do not.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment – For this I would refer back to their wish to abolish the ECHR. I also found on their Worcester and Mid Worcestershire Branch website a pledge to “· Double prison places through better use of existing prisons and a substantial programme of new prison building.” They will also apparently stop any chances of early release and weak sentencing. This, according to them will cost £2bn PA. According to an article on the BBC website, in 2008-09 £4.9 bn was spent on the prison and probation service. How exactly would doubling the prison places, opening new prisons and harsher sentencing save money?

Number 13 (Rampant Cronyism and Corruption) is extremely difficult to judge as the party is not in power so once again I will give them the benefit of the doubt and say they would not be involed in corruption. As there is absolutely zero evidence or even speculation on number 14 (Fraudulent Elections) I will once again assume it would never happen.

As promised I will get back to same-sex marriage. As most people who know me will know I am very much a secularist and personally hold no religious belief. I think religion and politics should 100% of the time stay 100% separate and believe the House of Lords should be religion free and elected. UKIP seem to believe that getting involved in the same-sex marriage argument is insulting to religion and is not a government matter. They claim all good Libertarian parties would stay out of such a debate, well I ask any libertarians reading this; How is the government ruling homosexuals should not be allowed to get married a libertarian ideology? Surely that is the government deciding what someone can and cannot do and therefore state interference. SURELY the only logical opinion a truly libertarian party would have is that any person can marry any other person and it is then up to the religious group to decide if they want to be involved in such a thing. But hey, what do I know.

Now by my count and opinion this leaves them with a score of around 9/14. In my opinion, they are probably not a fascist group but still dangerously close. Such a party continuing to go unchallenged and unchecked could turn into a worrying, dangerous movement. Besides, any party that has the backing of EDL/SDL is probably someone people should be scrutinising.