Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Jeffrey Simpson's Contempt for Democracy

Jeffrey Simpson's remarkably pompous and disingenuous column in the Mop and Pail today has already been overtaken by events, but it's still worth a quick severe beating about the face and neck anyway.

Simpson is DEEPLY OFFENDED by the spectacle of the Lib Dems, who won only 9% of the seats in Britain's parliament having the major role they've had in selecting the UKs new government.

To be clear, he's not offended by the fact that the party that got 23% of the vote got only 9% of the seats - he's absolutely fine with that, and only gets around to a throwaway reference to that fact in paragraph 8. No, he's incensed that after narrowly winning the most seats in parliament there could possibly be any obstruction to the Conservatives triumphant victory march into office. That they will have to horse-trade and negotiate and at least present the opportunity for a more representative voting system in the UK in order to take office is to Simpson a disgrace.

Never mind that the Conservatives won the most seats with barely 36% of the vote and everybody else voted center left to socialist - sound familiar? - giving that overwhelming majority of voters a center left to socialist coalition government would be deeply undemocratic... somehow, and would increase the odds that a more representative democracy would become a permanent fixture of UK politics.

As this would mean that a largely center left population would probably never vote in another unrepresentative Conservative majority it is a very bad thing in Simpson's eyes. Actually making the British political system, and the Canadian one for that matter as he drags us into his hissy fit about halfway through, more representative and responsive to the views of the majority is in Simpson's view, sleazy, undemocratic, distasteful deal-making.

A more perfect example of elitist disdain for the common herd would be hard to find.


Joanne said...

I mostly agree with you - i was appalled by Simpson's column as well. However, when you say "everybody else voted center left to socialist", that's not right at all. Both Labour and LibDems are right of centre. Go to political compass - they have a great chart showing the position of the major parties in the 2010 election and a 2nd showing how they've moved around over the years and you can track Labour's move from the left to very right-wing and authoritarian. It's rather scary.

Cliff said...

I absolutely agree and the same goes double for our own Liberals.

My sentence construction was quite deliberate though: the majority of Brits voted center left to socialist. Like our own Liberals, the Labour Party campaigns to the left and governs to the right (Their economic record is actually fairly left wing with major improvements to the Welfare state and public health care given how low they had been brought by the Tories.) Even in economics they aren't perfect, too enamored with P2Ps and like the rest of the world they let their bankers get away with murder, and yes massively social authoritarian - ASBOS on every teen from a bad neighborhood and CCTV cameras on every corner should not be in the policy books of a left wing government.

But both Labour and the Lib Dems promoted themselves as center leftists, progressives, believers in peace and justice - regardless of how much they planned to abandon those poses after the election, that's who the majority of voters voted for.

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