British elections – June 2017: Crisis of British political system

The results of the mid-term elections held in Britain in June reveal that the country is caught in the throes of acute political crisis. In 2015, the bourgeoisie succeeded in manufacturing victory for the Conservative Party and made David Cameron the Prime Minister. Faced with sharp contradictions within its ranks, the British bourgeoisie organized a referendum on BREXIT (Britain’s exit from the EU) in 2016. The referendum results revealed deep division within the bourgeoisie. David Cameron resigned as Prime Minister making way for Theresa May.

The government of Theresa May called for mid-term elections in June, hoping to increase its majority in parliament and declare it as a “peoples mandate” to intensify the attacks on the working class and people. However, the Conservative Party fell short of the votes needed for a majority and she is now Prime Minister of a minority government surviving on support from the Democratic Union Party from Northern Ireland.

The elections had been called, earlier than scheduled, in the context of sharp contradictions between the working class and people on the one hand and the British bourgeoisie on the other. For the past several decades now, the British bourgeoisie has been intensifying its attacks on the working class, student youth and retired people in the name of “austerity”. Job losses, tuition fee raises, cut backs in public health services and pension benefits have made the working class and people very angry and alienated from the government. They have been demanding an end to these attacks on their rights.

At the same time, there is also intense contradictions within the British bourgeoisie. There is no clear cut unity within the bourgeoisie on questions of commerce and trade with Europe, the issue of immigrant workers, and similar issues. This has resulted in anarchy at every level. The bourgeoisie organized the mid-term elections to sort out the contradictions within its ranks, and intensify the attacks on the working class and people at home.

It is a fact that in a capitalist system as in Britain, it is the bourgeoisie that determines who will run the government on its behalf. Parliamentary Democracy and universal suffrage cloak this reality. The fact that the Conservatives could not garner a clear majority in the June 2017 elections reveals the sharpening contradictions within the British bourgeoisie. The crisis in which the political system called a representative democracy is mired is such that it cannot sort anything out.

By calling the elections, the bourgeoisie also hoped to divert the attention of the working people from the problems faced by them on an everyday basis.

The important issue for the working class and people is that this capitalist democracy is not going to provide any solution to their problems. However much the British bourgeoisie trumpets that the elections are an expression of the “people’s will”, it is becoming clearer that this “representative” democracy has no credibility. In the recent elections, the competing political parties did not even campaign among the people themselves. They hired agencies that represented private interests to run their campaigns. This is the fact in India as well as in Britain. These private agencies are hired on the basis of who is best able to disinform the electors. As a result, the people are deprived of the scope to develop a political outlook in defense of their interests; rather, they are made to believe that the choice before them is one or another of bourgeois political party.

It is also made out that people are choosing this or that party depending on personalities. This is also used to befuddle issues, because it is the system which disempowers the people and it makes no difference to them whether it is this or that leader who is “charismatic” or a more persuasive speech maker.

The people's demand for an anti-austerity agenda and for end to British involvement in wars abroad are clashing with the claims of the ruling class that it is the interests of private monopolies that must be secured. This conflict has been intensifying since the austerity agenda was unleashed during the Thatcher years and successive governments have defended it. The political system and process has to be fundamentally renewed in favour of the people. It must be a system that empowers people so that they can ensure the fulfillment of their striving for security of their lives and livelihood.


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Elections    Britain    mid-term    Jul 16-31 2017    World/Geopolitics    Political Process     Popular Movements     2017   

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