As the Greens have gained more media attention, Bennett has thought seriously about post-election possibilities, and what role her party might play in supporting a Tory- or Labour-led government. “I can’t imagine circumstances in which we would prop up a Tory government,” she says. “Our first inclination would be a ‘confidence and supply’ agreement, rather than a coalition, because it means you provide stable government – you don’t get the ministerial cars but you keep your conscience and you don’t have to vote for tuition fees, for example.”
@philbc3 To be fair, does seem to express lukewarm preference for Labour. But not good keeping conscience is more important than ownership.
@philbc3 Seems the Greens may be made of the same political instincts as other party groupings. Our body politic refusing to regenerate!
Representative democracy is, in fact, a bit of a bugger. At the moment there are moves to bring about the legal figure of recall to parliamentary constituencies. I suppose what this means is that if a sufficient number of voters are unhappy with what an MP is doing, he or she can be forced to stand again mid-term. Its opponents will argue this will lead to a ridiculous knee-jerk body politic where currently there isn’t one; its proponents will argue knee-jerk instincts couldn’t get worse than they already are.
The bugger that such a democracy becomes, with or without recall as a shiny bolt-on, is that we agree with the idea of moderately autonomous MPs when they stop barbaric – even as possibly popular – impulses to reintroduce the death penalty but we refuse to countenance such structures when their autonomy leads to the horrors the Coalition has committed over the past four years in the name of a negotiated politics.
Or, rather, it’s not so much their autonomy of us we refuse to accept as their often blind and unquestioning attachment to their political groupings.
This leads to the stuff we’ve spoken about at length; it also means no one – or very few, at any rate – cares to question underlying fundamentals.
For example, why is the only alternative to a rapacious corporate capitalism supposed to be a heavy-handed, unresponsive, dead weight of a state? And why is the former so easily sold to and bought by us as representing a fleet-of-foot operating efficiency when any objective assessment would judge its efficiencies to be – at the very most – limited mainly to the needs and desires of executive classes and shareholders various?
I’m not arguing that corporate capitalism doesn’t have its virtues. At its best, it collates and shares the living and breathing knowledge of maybe hundreds and thousands of employees. But that’s at its best. And we do, surely, have to accept that in its battle with the equally corporate state, it has grown up in a shadow many of its companies have clearly emulated. That the Tories should go onto the attack from 2010 onwards – having identified the prime weakness of their business sponsors as their inability to stand on their own two commercial feet without the succour of Mother State; instead, putting the spotlight on the poor, disabled and equally state-dependent disempowered – is just one indication of where the truth really lies: that is to say, by telling a small truth about one defenceless portion of society, we tell a damning lie about one hugely powerful – yet potentially vulnerable (ie in need of permanent political protection) – top of the pyramid.
Even so, there is another way: there always has to be. As democratic socialists – or perhaps wistful social democrats – it could be our task to regenerate this narrative completely: in the face of a relatively efficient – although often ineffective – corporate capitalism, we shouldn’t posit the only alternative as being the aforementioned, inevitably less efficient Mother State.*
For the problem now appears to be that business – corporate capitalism I mean – has been so successful at burrowing its way into our societal mindsets that we are utterly unable to conceptualise a different set of working structures, tools, assumptions or wider ways of seeing. Just as we struggle to conceive of a business which isn’t corporate, so we struggle to conceive of a state which could be anything else.
In fact, in much the same way as we now assume business has to be corporate capitalism, so we assume the state could only be a less efficient version of the same.
Yet the technology, ideas, mentalities and moods are surely out there for another kind of representative democracy, society and commercial environment. Isn’t it time we stopped assuming there only existed a singular duopoly in our society – time we started believing there must be far more than just one best way?
* That corporate capitalism’s “kicking when down” of the state – which it nevertheless receives so much benefit from – mirrors the Tories’ “kicking when down” of, for example, the European Union for purely political reasons – of a, nevertheless, commercially incoherent nature – shouldn’t go unnoticed as a tactic which is spreading too far and fast for any progressive’s liking.