In the UK, it's buy one, get one free


Welcome to the British General Election Superstore. Buy one, get one free. Political parties that is. If you vote for one in the upcoming general election, you get the other thrown in for free. Given that you would find it hard to insert a cigarette paper between the policies of the two main parties, voting for one is like voting for both because they are almost one and the same.

The slogans plastered on the shop window include ‘cuts’ and ‘we give more choice’. I’ve seen what’s on offer, however, and it’s not a pretty sight.
There are cuts, cuts and more cuts — to health, education, welfare and a raft of public services. One manufacturer claims it will cut to the bone, while another advocates gentler, more ‘appealing’ cuts. I asked the store manager why there were to be so many cuts. The store’s bank went bankrupt because it flitted the store’s money away on corrupt deals and that now the store felt obliged to help out with more of its own money.  Strange logic indeed. He had me down as a troublemaker.

Afghanistan
Then there is the Afghanistan shelf. The sales logo says ‘Support out troops!’ Good old tub thumping stuff. I asked the store manager about what that was about. He asked in dismay if I supported the troops, implying that he suspected that I didn’t. He also had me down as some kind of agitator. He didn’t want to discuss the nature of the troops’ involvement in Afghanistan, but was only concerned with my patriotism.

The shelves were full of products from just two main manufacturers. I was told there are no alternatives. Then I saw, hidden away at the back of the shop, shelves containing public ownership and things like bank nationalisation. Apparently, no one wanted these products and that’s why they don’t see the light of day.
But if people were made aware of such things, there may well be a surge of activity in the store and those products could really sell. The store manager claimed I was a heretic and that I’d best go to the Venezuela superstore or the Cuba retail mall down the street.
I was informed that people like what is on offer and all the catchy slogans. The slogans do not really mean anything, but they sound good. They could mean something and sound like they do, but essentially they mean very little. Empty slogans produce harmony and consensus. No one really knows why they are in harmony, but they are.

I was told that it would be wiser if I didn’t come back to his store ever again because his customers are happy shoppers. He said they may be apathetic, they may be misinformed, but at least they are ‘model citizens’ and not troublemakers, agitators or subversives.

There are various other signs in the store — ‘No credit given’ — certainly not by the two main parties for the electorate possessing a brain cell. “Our products contain no fruit, nuts or nutritional goodness whatsoever.” Well, that went without saying really. And, “We are cheap”. But we knew that all along, didn’t we?

Sale now on! Prices even lower than the morality of it all. Open the ring-pull on top of the electioneering can and feel the spray. It’s all so unrefreshingly cheap.
Drink it in and you may just find that it has a kind of empty-tasting fizz, built from a recipe of paranoia and fear. Keep telling yourself that it tastes good and eventually it may in a sort of sickly-sweet way. It’s definitely an acquired taste. Some see the sham and spit it out immediately, claiming the whole affair it to be poisonous establishment propaganda, but others swallow it whole and are hooked by the slogans and meaningless media sound bites. That’s the British general election campaign 2010 style.

The concept of democracy behind this is that the mass of the population are a problem, and any genuine debate or the electorate’s ability to see what is actually happening must be prevented. People must be distracted — they should be watching premier league football, mind numbing soap operas or some sitcom. Every once in a while, like at voting time, they are called on to regugitate or back some meaningless slogans.

And so, just who will win the election in Britain. Does it really matter? The whole thing is building up a huge head of meaningless steam. It’s the losers that will bother me — the vast majority of the British population. Democracy. Who are we kidding?

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