In the year that Chelsea again decisively won the league, Cameron has much less decisively won another five years in charge and now the country will really start feeling the blues (ha). 75.58% of voters opted for parties other than Conservative (bbcnews.co.uk) and if you are curious as to why I am so specific with that figure, it is because many of our votes simply did not count thanks to the current electoral system. The system, known as “First Past The Post”, means that the average UK voter has the power of 30.5% of a vote (voterpower.org.uk) and is dependent on the area you live in.
This alone is enough to piss a lot of people off, as many will feel, as in 2010, they are not getting the government they voted for. The irony is that even in some mad alternative system where one person’s vote counts for one person’s vote, the Tories still would have won as they simply received the most. The difference is their government would have been restrained somewhat in their power to implement policies to suit themselves and we would be looking at a very different time ahead.
But they are back in power and many non-Tory voters, like they did for the election itself, are rapidly dividing in their methods for dealing with the result. Some are directly targeting Conservative voters on social media, branding them anti-NHS or disability based on the manifesto they voted for, calling them “murderers” in the most extreme of cases. Others have taken it upon themselves to “protest” directly at the gates of Downing Street. This escalated, however, into rioting and the all too predictable inward-targeted anger of the working classes and the young. It was rioters versus police and suddenly nobody was looking at No.10 or the exploitative companies who had just made hundreds of millions from the election result (theguardian.co.uk, 8th May 2015).
I was not present at this demonstration but there is a video on the internet being branded as “Anti-Government Riots”. In it, there is a lot of aggression on the side of the rioters, very little on the side of the police despite the inflammatory tone of the cameraman, but regardless of what you make of this “protest” and this video, it is evidence of the working class turning on itself, the police versus the public, and certainly not effectively making any noise in the House of Commons. Any message these people say they wanted to convey was simply lost in the chaos that ensued and change is not reached through the incitement or endorsement of these kinds of demonstrations.
The evidence for this last statement is in what David Cameron was doing whilst all this was going on: choosing his Cabinet ministers. These ministers will be the ones in charge alongside Cameron for the next five years, so they are important to know. Do your own research here because I am not in the game of naming and shaming but I will highlight that one of Cameron’s minsters is in favour of the reintroduction of the death penalty and a couple of the others voted against same-sex marriage and equal gay rights; nice choices, Dave. We can only watch closely to see how much influence these long out-dated beliefs will have on the decisions they make going forward but one cannot help but ask if there might have been more suitable candidates for these positions.
So what can we do about it?
- REGISTER TO VOTE
Obviously, the first and perhaps most important thing you, the reader, should do is to register to vote. Despite what Russell Brand confusingly spouts in his videos, in democracy, voting will change things. It has done for a hundred years or so. Why wait until the 2020 campaign to register? Do it now and tell everybody you know to do so too. Does the system need a drastic transformation? Most certainly but until that happens, it is up to you to make your voices heard in Downing Street.
- DISCUSSION AND DEBATE
The next thing is to stop attacking your Tory neighbour from behind the safety of the keyboard and instead have a discussion with them about why they voted for Cameron to return as Prime Minister. In most cases, you will learn that Conservative voters are not “murderers” and in fact usually only want the best for the country too but the differences lie in the methods they would choose on how to achieve it. Some were quite simply not inspired enough by the alternatives to vote against what they knew from the passed five years. If you believe different, convince them (with words!).
- LOCAL MP
Next, find out who your local politician is and what they are doing or have done for you and your area. Ultimately, these are the individuals you are voting for and they work for you.
- ELECTORAL REFORM
Lastly, keep an eye on the Electoral Reform Society and sign the petition (electoral-reform.org.uk).
We have five years of austerity ahead but you must use that time effectively. Every time a tax is introduced or increased, remind people what they voted for but do not attack them for doing so; every time a public service is hit with spending cuts, remind people that No.10 is responsible, not the immigrants or the public service workers themselves; remind people that it does not have to be this way in 2020 and together it won’t.