Craig Murray: Democracy’s Demise

Labour isn't an alternative to the Tory Party. Labour is an alternative Tory Party.

What we had from roughly 1920 to 1990, when voting really could make a difference, is not what we have now. We live instead in a post-democratic society.

By Craig Murray


British Labour leader Keir Starmer’s determination to use his refusal to alleviate child poverty as the issue with which to demonstrate his macho Thatcherite credentials, has provided one of those moments when blurred perceptions crystallise.

A Labour government in the U.K. under Starmer will bring no significant changes in economic or foreign policy and will make no difference whatsoever to the lives of working class people.

If dividends were taxed at the same rate as wages, that alone would bring in very many times the cost of lifting the two-child benefit cap. But that would hurt the owners of capital and be redistributive, so it is firmly off Starmer’s agenda.

Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor of the exchequer, Wes Streeting, shadow health minister, and Starmer have no intention of attempting to bridge society’s stunning and ever-growing wealth gap.

Rather they seek to emphasise “wealth creation” and return to trickledown theory. Alongside “wealth creation” they talk of “reform”, by which they mean more deregulation and more private, for profit provision of public services.

The Labour Party has not only abandoned all thought of securing a capital interest for the worker in the enterprise where they work. The Labour Party has also abandoned the ideas both of state intervention in the unequal dynamic between worker and employer, and of facilitating and supporting self-organisation of Labour.

Tory anti-union legislation is to remain, and who can forget Starmer banning Labour MPs from official union picket lines?

The Labour Party in power is also not going to repeal the hostile environment for immigrants’ legislation, or the Tory attacks on civil liberties and the right to protest.

What precisely therefore is the purpose of the Labour Party? An extension to which question is, what then is the purpose of the next U.K. general election?

To register disgust at the rule of the Tories by voting in an alternative set of Tories?

There has been an undercurrent of concern about the sprint to the right under Starmer, but somehow the two-child benefit cap has crystallised it in the public mind. The fact that there is no real choice on offer to the electorate has even broken into the mainstream media narrative (the embedded video, not the tweet, though I agree with that too).

It is not just a Westminster thing. Famously, the Scottish National Party (SNP) have won eight successive electoral mandates on Scottish Independence while their elected representatives have done absolutely zero about it. They have not even really pretended they intend to do anything about it.

Western democracy appears to have failed in the sense that elections can achieve nothing that makes any difference to the lives of ordinary people. They only make a difference to lives of members of the political class, who jump on or off the gravy train according to the result.

This is not an accident. Those who have threatened the neoliberal order have been destroyed by lies like Jeremy Corbyn — lies which the billionaire-and state-controlled media were delighted to amplify — or cheated out of election like Bernie Sanders.

In the United States, the current lawfare attempts to remove Donald Trump as a presidential candidate are an extraordinary denial of democracy. Trump is accused of paying off sexual partners and of retaining classified documents.

Bill Clinton paid off sexual partners in a much more egregious fashion and Hillary’s data-handling arrangements were much worse, with zero legal consequences for either, but that does not seem in the least to concern the “liberal” Establishment.

The role of the U.S. security services in the suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story during the last Presidential election should have been a giant wake-up call. But liberals were more interested in stopping Trump than in preventing the security state from manipulating the result of elections.

There is an “end justifies the means” approach by supposedly liberal thinkers that supports any action against Trump, as it supports the banking ostracism of Nigel Farage, because their views are not entirely those of the neoliberal Establishment.

Neither Trump nor Farage are close to my own views, though I differ from them in different ways from, but no more than I differ from, Starmer and Joe Biden. But what is happening to both of them should be put together with what happened to Corbyn and with the gutting of Labour by Starmer, and even (God help us) with what happened to Liz Truss, as part of the same process of ensuring the political agenda does not offer any real choice.

Person attlee2
Clement Atlee, Labour prime minister from 1945 to 1951. (Wikipedia)

It has become banal to note that concentration of media ownership between state and billionaires, and social media gatekeeping by billionaires’ corporations in cahoots with state security services, has contributed to the limitation of accepted “respectable” viewpoints.

I am less and less confident I see any solution.

In looking to start this chain of thought, I was thinking of saying that I no longer believe in the Western model of democracy, but can find no acceptable alternative. On writing I find that I do in fact believe in the western model of democracy, but that model no longer exists.

What we had from roughly 1920 to 1990, when voting really could make a difference, is not what we have now.

Voting for Clement Attlee made a difference. The Establishment won’t make that mistake again.

The concentration of media ownership is only one facet of the concentration of wealth and political power which appears irreversible by democratic means, in that we will never be given the opportunity to vote for anyone in official politics who opposes it, or to hear the arguments against it on any media platform with an equal access to the market for ideas.

We live in a post-democratic society. That is difficult to accept, but it is true.

Craig Murray is an author, broadcaster and human rights activist. He was British ambassador to Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004 and rector of the University of Dundee from 2007 to 2010. His coverage is entirely dependent on reader support. Subscriptions to keep his blog going are gratefully received.

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The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Labour Heartlands.

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