Labour denounced George Osborne’s budget cuts as “extreme”.
But, asked by the Today programme what he would reverse from Osborne’s Budget yesterday, British Labour Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, replied that there was nothing.
I’ve never been entirely comfortable with the “Red Tories” tag now commonly applied to British Labour. Resorting to saying “they’re all the same” is generally to be avoided as being simplistic to the point of intellectual indolence.
What cannot be denied, however, is that the British parties offer no meaningful choice to voters. In terms of outcomes, it makes no difference whatever whether we end up with a Tory government or a Labour government committed to precisely the same austerity fetishism. Whatever may differentiate the partners in the “Great British Duopoly”, the distinction is superficial, almost entirely cosmetic and, for all practical purposes, meaningless.
And this will not change, other than to get worse. As both parties continue to chase the votes of the same relatively small group of electors within a system which effectively excludes the majority, policy convergence is inevitable. The message from both will be the same. Only the language will be changed to protect the illusion of democracy.
So! What can be done to avert this?
Faced with the threat to their cosy arrangements posed by the SNP, all the British parties have been remarkably explicit about their willingness to subordinate democratic legitimacy to the imperative of preserving the status and privilege which is their reward for loyal service to the ruling elites of the British state. By their response to this threat, the British parties tell us in the plainest manner imaginable exactly what we must do if we wish to save our democracy. We must do precisely that thing which they are most afraid we will do. We must do what they tell us we mustn’t. We must defy them.
We must vote SNP on 7 May.
We must do so as a matter of great urgency. The British establishment has identified a threat to the structures of power which define the British state. It will act to neutralise that threat. It will not be constrained in its actions by Labour denounced the proposals as “extreme”.
If you think the vicious anti-SNP and anti-Scottish onslaught that we are seeing at the moment is a sign of the British state flexing its power, think again! It is actually a sign of its powerlessness. It is a frenzied reaction to a situation which the British state cannot control. You can be sure that it will not allow itself to be found in this situation again.
The British establishment has been caught unawares. It was not prepared for the tide of democratic dissent that has risen in Scotland. It was never anticipated that a party from outside the Westminster elite could secure significant influence within a system designed to ensure the dominance of the establishment parties. The SNP, as agents of the people of Scotland, has found a chink in the armour. If we do not exploit that weakness now, we may never get another chance. Failure to seize this opportunity will leave the ruling elites of the British state even more firmly entrenched.
If the concept of Red Tories/Blue Tories is to be useful let it be as a reminder that, for the people of Scotland at least, this election is not about a choice between “traditional” parties. It is about a choice between our democracy and an undifferentiated Westminster elite which sees democracy as a threat.