It’s ironic that an establishment so ostensibly committed by consensus to ‘free market’ economics as Westminster should remain such a closed shop, but when you realize that neoliberalism isn’t about free trade as much as the unencumbered rush for profit for a fortunate, established few the picture becomes clearer.
Change the word profit to power and you have the effective setup of the Westminster parliament – it should be a perfect market with no barriers to entry, perfect consumer (voter) information etc. However, this is clearly not the case, with the established parties (Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat) effectively forming a co-operative oligopoly that stymies all new parties, yet all occupying almost exactly the same market position.
The rise and fall of these three parties is almost of no consequence, as new ideas or different modes of thought are not present, so whoever has the best market share (i.e. is in government at the time) the resulting product offered to the consumers is of the same high-price, low quality standard.
It’s taken decades for the SNP to break this monopoly in Scotland, and they’ve done this largely by playing up to the corporate centre-right and thus gaining the support of a portion of the media` while maintaining half a keel in the centre-left and pushing an emotive agenda (independence) which resonates outwith the usual pushing of economic levers that constitutes normal parliamentary business. Basically, they sold a part of their soul to the machine, but retained their unique selling point. Canny work.
UKIP have risen to prominence in a far shorter span of time, but in contrast to the SNP their USP isn’t all that unique (anti-immigration, anti-Europe sentiment has long existed in a significant portion of the Conservative party and a host of other smaller parties, especially the BNP) and they don’t have the whiff of a left-wing keel, rather being more right wing than the Conservatives in their neoliberal economic outlook.
UKIP’s rise in popularity, notoriety and relevance is almost entirely down to the mainstream media’s support for them, as shown by how often their representatives have been on television in the years when their vote share & polling figures were no more remarkable than the Greens, before they ever had an MP etc.
UKIP were practically created by the mainstream media, who are effectively hand in glove with the oligopoly at the top of British politics, as a fake alternative, designed to soak up all the anti-establishment feeling generated by the increasingly right of centre balance of the parliament and their austerity regime while remaining a force who would not jeopardise that neoliberal consensus.
By contrast, the Greens who have been polling significantly since the late 80s and have been returning MEPs and councilors since the 90s are almost wholly absent from national television and newspaper debate, their arguments brushed aside despite currently having an MP in Westminster (won in a general election, not via defection and by-election) and several MSPs in Holyrood.
That is because the Greens, along with other parties such as the Socialist party, the Pirate Party, the National Health Action Party, NO2EU are whitewashed by the media, even when their policies are popular, they poll well or gain representation purely because their policies and arguments would clash with the established neoliberal consensus and do so in a way that would resonate with the people, possibly leading to sweeping electoral change,
A perfect market would allow different viewpoints in to the market and allow voters to have equal information on all parties with the same degree of effort. As it is, you really need to dig to realize that the are actually alternatives to the five top parties.
The media whitewash of non-neoliberal viewpoints is an affront to the concept of democracy in Britain and is a threat to all of our freedoms, human rights and financial futures.
So what’s the answer?
For one thing, complain. You can sign petitions – to compel the broadcasters to stop the media blackout of the Greens, include all small parties in televised debates or complain to the BBC directly.
The second thing you can do is BECOME the media, an opportunity granted us by our digital age. Write a blog, share posts and meme’s from alternative parties or campaign groups, speak to people and explain in reasonable terms why the established parties need to be brought down and voting for their less celebrated alternatives is the only real answer for democracy.
Thirdly, join a political party that resonates with your personal beliefs. Don’t be put off by the idea that ‘they’ll never get elected’ because that is what the distant establishment and their media cronies WANT you to believe.
If everyone who was disillusioned with Westminster joined and voted for parties outside the traditional three (or five if you include UKIP and the SNP) rather than voting for the ‘least worst’ option to try and avoid a supposedly greater evil or simply not voting then the picture would change very quickly.
Here are links to join the Scottish Greens, Green Party of England & Wales, Scottish Socialist Party Socialist Party if England & Wales, Pirate Party, NHS Action Party as well as the SNP & Plaid Cymru who deserve inclusion on account of their left of centre leanings and localist agendas.
Last of all, boycott the mainstream media. Cancel your television license if you can live without it, don’t buy any newspapers owned by Rupert Murdoch or with an editorial line in favour of the neoliberal establishment. Hit them where it hurts.
Like any market, the politics of the UK requires consumer consent to function, so give your support to brands (parties) which deserve it and watch the market change.
Be The Change You Want To See In The World