Idle Thoughts on Political Strategy in the UK

April 2, 2013

Note that I’m no kind of activist; these are very idle thoughts.

– The UK is a country with relatively well functioning democratic institutions (by which I mean: it has regular elections in which political leaders are voted in and out of office by the broader populace, with low enough levels of fraud for such outcomes to be meaningful representations of voters’ preferences.)

– In this scenario, I’m of the view that electoral politics is by far the best way to acquire power. The most commonly advocated-for alternative – armed seizure of power – is very likely to do damage to the democratic institutions currently in place.

– Also, if you’ve got broad enough support for armed revolution for its leaders to at all plausibly represent ‘the people’, then you should be able to muster the votes to gain power democratically anyway.

– So how could a political movement oriented towards emancipatory politics gain power electorally?

– The Labour party is in no sense a Social Democratic party any more – the ‘New Labour’ years turned it into a neoliberalising party; under Miliband it seems committed to ‘austerity’ and moving towards fascism.

– It’s possible that the Labour party could be taken over and made a vehicle for emancipatory politics. I think this is possible but unlikely.

– An alternative scenario is the creation of a whole new alternative party and party apparatus, to rival Labour. This doesn’t seem to be anywhere close to happening, but is considerably more likely than a successful takeover of Labour for emancipatory politics, I think.

– In either of these scenarios you’re also of course going to need a broader movement to exert pressure on party leaders and push public discourse in a broadly emancipatory direction.

– It’s also possible that neither will happen, and we’re just screwed in the long as well as the short term.

Conclusion: short term diagnosis – bleak; long term – uncertain.

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