Some Observations on the 2015 UK General Election Results and the UK Parliamentary System (and some good news for Labour Party Voters)

The UK election is over, and now begins a 5 year term by the Conservative Party who have formed a bare majority within the UK Parliament’s lower house (The House of Commons). What lessons did we learn from the election, and what things should we bear in mind going forward.

1) Whether the Labour Party or Conservative Party won, the direction of Britain would have differed very little.

Both parties were committed to making cuts on government spending and reining back the deficit. This is because it is unavoidable to do so in a Capitalist system which protects the Rich from having their wealth redistributed to the poor, so in hard times, the poor suffers. We shouldn’t forget, that it was the Labour government that gave taxpayer money to bail out failing banks during the recession. This is because in a Capitalist system, economic growth depends on Interest and Debt – and the institutions that provide it are deemed to be important pillars of Capitalist economics.

People make much fuss about the looming Conservative campaign to implement a list of laws that will ban peaceful political dissidents (called by the undefinable label ‘extremists’). However, lets not forget, the Labour government prior to David Cameron, under Tony Blair first implemented the much hated ‘Prevent’ program. The Conservatives only continued it. Labour’s Tony Blair wanted to implement 90 days detention of terror suspects without trial(!) and successfully implemented ‘control orders’ for (unconvicted) suspects that severely reduced their liberty and freedom, by confining them to their homes during long curfews, and limiting how far they could travel from their home. Labour implemented a raft of increasingly strong ‘Anti-Terror’ laws, these included possession of articles ‘useful to the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism’, which include merely possessing documents, even for benign research purposes. The laws Labour introduced also outlawed the vague sounding ‘glorification of terrorism’, which in theory could outlaw a number of popular action films (like V for Vendetta) and any American celebrating the 5th July- it depends purely on the interpretation of the judge and the Crown prosecution services. Those laws *coincidentally* have been used mostly against Muslims who had – as admitted by the courts – no intention of committing an act of violence.

It should be noted, that in the UK laws brought in by Labour, the law does not specifically define terrorism as exclusively targeting civilians. Terrorism is defined as any act of violence done anywhere in the world, without done as an agent of an officially accepted State, against any other state for political purposes. In essence, it would be a crime for anyone to ‘glorify’ ny rebels, freedom fighters and insurgents fighting occupation, anywhere and at any time, who would be classed technically as ‘Terrorists’ (so any Americans wanting to glorify George Washington, don’t do it in the UK, same goes for French people glorifying the French resistance). 

Tony Blair also tried to widen powers to ban non-violent political dissidents, but was unable to implement them due to resistance from a number of sides (and public opinion) who were concerned about the effect it will have on ‘Free Speech’. After years of media fear-mongering, the Conservatives policy now, is not something new – it’s just the implementation of originally Labour policies, which is now something POSSIBLE.

Furthermore, David Cameron and Theresa May’s anti-extremism rhetoric and plans were UNOPPOSED by Labour politicians, who even agreed with it. Yvette Cooper, Labour’s opposite number to the Home Secretary Theresa May even said that May’s policies ‘were the right ones’. While the Labour-era control orders were overturned by the much less restrictive ‘TPIMS’ – during the Conservative government I might add, the (now former) leader of Labour, Ed Miliband, said ‘it was a mistake to get rid of control orders’. Labour actively opposed the scrapping of ‘Control Orders’, with the opposition to its scrapping, led by Hazel Blears. The Conservative government at the time cited problems with the courts (and not their coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats) as the cause of repealing the measure.

Presumably the only reason the Labour Party didn’t put up the same measures that the Conservative Party did, in their election manifesto, was to get the ‘Muslim vote’. People often talk about how many manifesto promises are kept by each party (usually small and relatively insignificant changes to the system), but they fail to see the real power that the parties hold – the ability to makes laws and pursue policies they NEVER mentioned in their manifestos in the first place.

2) The Reality of the UK Parliamentary System

UK’s Parliamentary system allows people to vote for a candidate to ‘represent’ their borough or county (i.e. district). The UK is divided into 650 of these, corresponding to 650 seats in parliament.

Candidates in each district, are either independents, or part of a party. Those part of a party enjoy the election campaign resources provided by the party, and the party’s reputation, and have a natural advantage over independents. The Party that gets just over half of these seats (326 or over) becomes the ‘majority party’ and forms a government (if less, they need to form a coalition with other parties). The majority party then selects a Prime Minister (usually the party head), who then ‘must’ ask ‘permission’ from the Queen to form a government. The people of the UK do not directly elect the Prime minister (and certainly not the Queen, or the members of the House of Lords!).

The majority governing party, once elected, can never be unelected by the people until the next election. They have no obligation to refer the public’s opinion, or listen to them when making laws or policies. The Winning party can form the ruling council called ‘The Cabinet’ which are basically appointed ‘Wazireen’ (assistants) to the Prime Minister, and given specific roles, such as treasury, education, defence etc. The members of this are not required to be elected officials.

Each elected member of a party, who is a member of the House of Commons, is controlled by specially appointed ministers of their party called ‘whips’ that coerce members to Vote in parliament how the party wants. These Whips have the power to offer or remove ‘patronage’ which can advance or destroy a member’s career in politics. For this reason, for example, Muslim MPs will habitually follow their party’s line, if they seek to remain in their position. The case with Baroness Warsi who defied the Conservative Cabinet, was only possible because she wasn’t an elected MP, but an appointed life-member of the unelected House of Lords. She remains still a member of the ‘Lords’, despite her quitting the Conservative Party.

Laws are not introduced by the public in the UK, but can be introduced by the majority party, any other member of the House of Commons, a ‘Lord’, or the media and influential Lobby groups (or individuals) who use their contacts within one of the two houses. The Media and rich businessmen have strong influences on the government, able to be ‘kingmakers’ due to funding of the political parties themselves, profits affecting taxes or helping (or hindering) their image to the common people. In return, Parties offer help, peerages (appointing people as ‘Lords’) access and favorable policies and laws (or protect rich people’s assets from popular laws) to media and businesses.

The common people are not totally without influence, but have some influence, however, this is not due to democracy, but rather due to the universal law of public opinion, which no Dictator, Democracy or Communist collective can ignore and remain stable and safe for long. People may bombard politicians with letters, protests and petitions (basically ‘trolling’ them) until they are forced to act to make it stop. Others formed ‘workers unions’ that would go on strike and paralyse sections of the economy until their demands are met. Peaceful civil disobedience, is similar to strikes, except the people doing aren’t employees, and the target can be public spaces, not a workplace. When the Conservatives under Margaret Thatcher attempted to implement the much hated ‘poll tax’, the people of UK rioted until the police said they weren’t going to arrest people anymore. The government collapsed, the tax was stopped and Margaret Thatcher resigned as Prime Minister.

Many people haven’t voted, NOT BECAUSE THEY DON’T CARE ABOUT INJUSTICE, but because they observe that of all means available that effect government – Voting is the least, if not, completely ineffective to change government policy or laws. The lack of Voting by many people, is mostly due to apathy that Voting never changes anything. It is a true observation that UK foreign policy or general domestic policy doesn’t change based upon elections – but rather, changes occur based upon changes in power relations, public opinion and the influence of powerful interest groups – or mass protests (the universal way the people demand change under any government system). The other constants about the UK, is that like the U.S., it is based upon an ideology (Secular Liberalism) that cannot be voted out of power, and its government structure will not dramatically change due to elections. It’s like basically asking people which players they would like on a team, without allowing them to choose the game the team plays, the stadium it operates from, the team’s size, or the sponsors.

Of course, there were many Muslims didn’t Vote, but not just due to whether or not Voting produces any effects, but also because they expressed that they wanted to bear witness to Allah (swt) as the supreme legislator and to His (swt) laws as the only true solution for the problems that mankind face. Some Muslims Voted because they believed that not Voting would produce a ‘greater evil’ and let in parties that would persecute Muslims. But the position does hold up as a rational argument, as one could argue that there can be no ‘lesser of two evils’ argument used, or using the ‘forbidding evil and calling to the good argument’ when Voting in under a Secular Liberal (i.e. Capitalist) system itself is merely the validation of that system that fundamentally causes and perpetuates the very injustices we commonly complain about, and it can only exist with due to our validation of it. It’s like trying to shut down a casino by buying it out using large amount of money you hope to Win by bringing your own money and playing at the casino – the house always wins.

Another analogy that could be used, would be if Muslims were under an intolerant pagan society, who didn’t want to kill Muslims and only persecuted some of them, but discriminated against all of them and generally made life difficult. What if they offered to Muslims, that they will stop persecuting them for believing in Allah (swt), on condition they must join in worship their idols and join one of their accepted cults. One cult, that of Hubal, doesn’t allow worship of Allah (swt), the others, the cult of the three daughters, Allat, Manat and Al Uzza, allows worship of Allah, as long as you include them as His ‘daughters’. Would any Muslim seriously argue that it be ‘the lesser of the two evils’ to join the latter cult and deny the former – just to avoid persecution? Sure, the latter allows worship of Allah (swt), but at what cost to the principles of the Muslim?

Contrary to what many people believe, it is not only the large section of the Muslim community who don’t Vote, but also other religious communities, like the Christian sect, Jehovah’s Witnesses – who’ve united upon non-Voting as a common doctrine of all the worldwide Jehovah’s Witness community! Interestingly, the Northern Ireland party, Sinn Fein, who were once described as the ‘political wing of the IRA’ stand for election and are regularly elected into Parliament with between 4 and 5 candidates, but refuse to swear allegiance to the Queen because they do not recognise the sovereignty of the UK over them and desire the re-unification of Northern Ireland with Ireland. Because they refuse to swear allegiance (as all MPs are made to upon election), they are not allowed to Vote on laws or policies in the House of Commons. Their reason for standing for election is primarily due to the platform and access British Parliament provides, which they use to improve their lobbying position and influence, in the hopes of getting a referendum on Northern Ireland remaining part of the UK.

While I don’t judge anyone who voted based upon sincere intentions, the point of these analogies is to explain to those whose criteria of ‘maslaha’ (benefit) is indistinguishable from Western Utilitarianism, that there are many Muslims who follow the Classical Islamic understanding that being Witness to Principles, is the best maslaha, upon which all other considerations are judged as ‘maslaha’ as to whether they benefit the Witnessing to it, or not.

Governments are only able to do as much as the people let them, and although they preserve the power system and wealth distribution, they do not enact laws or policies favorable (or demanded by) the public, until public opinion mounts so high, it puts pressure on them. This works under most systems of government, whether monarchy, democracy or dictatorship [1].

3. The Election Results of the May 2015 Elections

The election results roughly met the predictions of a lot of analysts and pundits, but however revealed something rather strange to most people.

The winning Party, the Conservatives received 331 seats, which is 51% of the House of Commons, but yet they received only 36% of total of those who Voted (or 24% of the total of everyone who could Vote). Labour received 31% of the Vote, yet received 36% (232) of the seats of the House of Commons.

The Liberal Democrats, who did very badly, received 7.9% (2,415,888 votes) of the Vote and received 8 seats (0.01% of the Seats in the House of Commons). UKIP, the not-so-friendly-to-immigrants party received MORE votes than the Liberal Democrats! (3,881,129 votes!) but only received one seat (out of 650 available). The Scottish National Party received 1,454,436 Votes, 4.7% of the Vote, yet claimed 56 seats! (0.09% of seats).

Why these confusing numbers and percentages? It’s quite simple, UK is a Parliamentary system, not a Proportional Representational one, like in most European countries (where percentage of Votes = percentage of Seats). Basically, each district (I use this word for non-UK readers) of the UK has an unequal population to each other, but each is worth only one seat. It is possible that a party may actually beat another part in the Election, despite the other party getting more people to Vote for them!

Some complain that this is unfair, but you have to consider why this is preferred to the European method. The UK (and U.S. electoral college system) is designed to limit as much as possible ‘mob rule’ the problem of true Democracies. The Enlightenment thinkers who help develop these systems DIDN’T TRUST DEMOCRACY (and they said so). Europe came to Electoral systems a little differently, and developed proportional representation instead, but implemented other kinds of checks and balances against the dangers of Mob Rule. However, these checks haven’t been as effective as the Anglo-American systems. You’ll notice that Europe contains more popularist fascists and open racists in their parliaments and congresses than UK and USA, and this is precisely why the UK and USA won’t be changing their system anytime soon – they’re better protected from majorities of non-Liberals coming to power [2].

4. The way forward

The 2015 Election results doesn’t need a discussion of ‘way forward from it’, but rather a discussion on ‘What should we have been doing and continue doing whether elections existed or not’. And to this, I would urge all sincere and conscientious Muslims and non-Muslims to continue trying to effect public opinion, spread information (via public debates, leaflets and media), be witnesses to the truth, exemplify good manners – and now, due the demonisation of Islam and Muslims reaching fever pitch, we must be prepared to lobby, petition, protest march, demonstrate go on strike and do any strong but peaceful activity we can to protect out Allah-given rights, which many in the government (Labour and Conservative) want to take away from us – including their promised ‘Extremism Disruption Order’ that will be used to silence Muslims with court orders that will require them to seek permission from the police before they speak in public events, debate, publish a book or even post something on the internet. If they breach these conditions, they could be sent to jail for 5 years (suddenly, the other countries around the world don’t seem so unfree do they?).

Endnotes

[1] However, what doesn’t work as popular movements, is if the people demand laws that are contrary to the ideology of the state – which, if it reaches a majority usually leads to either revolution or  coup, or successful suppression of political dissent by the government. Sometimes governments even suppress political dissent that differs from the ideology of the state even if the dissenters are not campaigning, due to the perceived potential threat they may hold in future.

[2] Fascism may be not like Liberalism, but the two are ideological cousins. Liberalism posits than Man has rights as an individual which are supreme, and government comes from Men joining together with others to give consent to be ruled under a common Will – the National Will. Fascism merely continues the line of reasoning to its logical conclusion: Where do rights come from? Not nature, and according to Secularism, God is irrelevant in politics – so Rights only come from the State. Therefore the State is more important than Individuals, since without it, they wouldn’t have their Rights. Secondly, the National Will created by Individuals, is more powerful than the Individual, and being the collective aggregate of all the Individual Wills, becomes Supreme and greater than its parts, and therefore the National Will is naturally, according to Fascists, greater than any Individual Will. Fascists stress conformity to the National Will, and National Values, yet they all – as Secularists – follow the same materialistic and human centred ‘first premise’ as Secular Liberals, Individual Liberty. When a Liberal state faces poverty and social disunity due to freedoms to dissent, Fascism usually arises and the people will popularly allow themselves to be led by a charismatic leader. Minority groups that differ from the majority are then usually persecuted or worse. Many current day European Liberal countries have had histories of yo-yoing between Liberalism and Fascism, including France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Japan, Serbia and Mexico.



Categories: ARTICLES, Democracy, POLITICAL ANALYSIS, WRITINGS

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