Tag Archives: Rupert Murdoch

Vote Brand

“If voting changed anything, they’d abolish it.”

“No matter who you vote for, the government gets in.”

These are age-old gags: clichés, even. And they pretty well summarise Russell Brand’s point, I think: there’s no point in voting if your vote doesn’t matter. Either this shower or that shower gets in, give or take a third-party drizzle. Initial excitement and hope gives way to reality. They all court Murdoch and the right-wing press (Leveson hasn’t changed the landscape significantly). They all kowtow to demands of big business ( “…or we’ll move our company elsewhere” — corporate blackmail, or what nobody ever seems to call “economic terrorism” for some reason, is endemic).

Brand’s decision not to vote is his choice. I don’t necessarily agree with it, but neither do I agree with mandatory voting. Many people make the same choice — turnout at elections is low, even for general elections — and the difference with Brand is that he has a voice. He articulates, compellingly, at length, on TV and in newspapers, the reasons he doesn’t vote, and thousands of people watching and reading nod in agreement. Various media types and entrenched politicians hold up distracting shiny things — no, he doesn’t offer any true solutions, yes, he’s a sexist, no, there is unlikely to be a full-on, tanks-out revolution — but the fact is: in the substance of his comments about politics, disregarding his choice of whether to vote or not, Brand is right.

Which makes him a dangerous subversive who must be stopped.

He’s an easy target: his history, his reputation, his appearance, his money, even his articulacy. The qualities that give him the platform to speak are used to attack him for speaking. Of course, the correct way to obtain a platform is to be a member of the establishment, or a hereditary politician. The platform daddy built is the platform of choice for all right-thinking persons.

Brand says: “The only reason to vote is if the vote represents power or change”. I’m sure it’s a view shared by many, and it’s a legitimate view. If he feels the only choices available in his constituency all lead to the same result, he has the right not to vote. I’m not entirely convinced by the critic’s standard response: “If he doesn’t vote then he has no right to complain”. The disenfranchised are still citizens, aren’t they? The views of sixteen and seventeen-year-olds — who can marry, go to war, drive, etc — still matter, don’t they? Members of the House of Lords can’t vote for MPs but they seem able to do some quite significant complaining. Just as I pay taxes that go to services I won’t use, for the good of society as a whole — child benefit, for example — I believe those affected by government, whether they vote or not, are entitled to voice their opinion.

The right-wing papers certainly make their opinions known, and they’re generally owned by foreigners like Murdoch, or patriotic Brits like Viscount Rothermere who reside in France for tax purposes and pay no tax in this country. They would seem to me to be more legitimate targets than Russell Brand.

But anyway: I can think of three easy ways to make voting represent power or change, in a way that might make Russell Brand and those others who currently withhold their vote change their minds. (Because that’s what we should be doing rather than criticising them for not voting for people they don’t want to vote for.)

1. Legitimacy threshold

If no candidate in an election receives the votes of more than 50% (or some other threshold of legitimacy) of the entire electorate — not the voters who turned out — then the election is invalid and rerun with new candidates.

Potentially expensive and never-ending, and the constituency is unrepresented in parliament while this happens. But it’ll concentrate the minds of the candidates on the issues in that constituency, over and above national issues.

2. None of the above

Add ‘None of the above’ to the ballot paper. If that pseudo-candidate wins, the election is invalid and rerun with new candidates (and ‘None of the above’ again).

A less extreme version of (1). This gives current non-voters a great incentive to vote if none of the candidates appeals.

3. Proportional representation

Yeah, well, the public were offered this option but turned it down thanks to a concerted campaign by the vested interests, the establishment — and a shambolic one by its supporters.

And what happened with option (3) is why we’ll never see options (1) or (2) enacted. Because if voting changed anything, they’d abolish it.

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The Gove-Santorum axis of immorality

Michael Gove is the antichrist, isn’t he? Surely? Or is it Rick Santorum? It’s got to be one of them. Maybe it’s both? Maybe they’re two halves of the antichrist, two snap-together segments. The Lego antichrist. And in the nightmare scenario, the antichrist-enabler Cameron is toppled by Gove’s satanic helpers (prop. R. Murdoch) — who then install their dark lord as PM and scoot across to the US to engage in a holy fiddle to rig the election for Santorum.

Then at their first meeting, the first Gove-Santorum swivel-in, the two shake damp hands and a spark and a purple flash herald the apocalypse. Jagged cracks bubble with lava, flying monkeys with little matching purple hats flock and swoop and snatch up children and animals, and the Daily Express worries about the effect on house prices, blames the BBC, and pins its hopes on a large photograph of Princess Diana.

I mean, how is it conceivable in the modern world, with all its facts and actual knowledge and stuff, that these two dangerous idiots aren’t simply guffawed off the stage?

It is said that a mere touch from the former Senator from Pennsylvania audibly and visibly leeches the intelligence from your bones; and that cameras watching him pass through a crowd are steered away to avoid spotting the desiccated husks crumbling into neat piles of dust in his wake.

And Gove, poor Gove, his grey face never far from confused over-tired tears, is busily thrusting Britain’s education system forward into the 1950s, ensuring institutionalised faith-based homophobia, and sucking up to his once and future boss Murdoch like the Tories of Thatcher.

I despair.

You know, I thought you were supposed to get more conservative as you age: shifting from denim to the elasticated waistbands of M&S and all the comforts of traditional bigotry such as the Daily Mail. Instead I find I’m becoming more militant: I am intolerant of intolerance, of ignorance, of idiocy, of demagoguery. I might be a Grumpy Not-So-Old Man. Or, more likely, one of those militant homosexual atheists everyone is allegedly so afraid of. I fear I am in grave danger of buying a pair of co-op hemp dungarees and selling Socialist Worker on street corners, and muttering fascist under my breath at anyone with a newer iPhone than me.

The irony, I suppose, is that what jiggles my frosting about Gove and Santorum and, in fact, most politicians, is their sheer immorality.

Gove, supposedly working for us as Education Secretary, but meeting every five minutes with Murdoch — who, coincidentally, wants to make lots of money out of education. And good lord: the first “free school” to sign a funding agreement with Gove was co-founded by Toby Young, who is now a political columnist with Murdoch’s Sun on Sunday and whose first column tipped Gove as a future prime minister.

Santorum, misty-eyed wobbly-lipped defender of the Constitution of the United States of God Bless America, who says “I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state are absolute” and that such a separation was “not the founders’ vision”. OK, let’s hear from Thomas Jefferson, actual founding father and actual principal author of the actual Declaration of Independence. On New Year’s Day 1802, when he was actual US President, he wrote: “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and State.”

Immorality.

Like giving your corporate chums free labour and calling it voluntary work experience while threatening to withhold benefits from the slaves if they don’t comply. That’s immorality.

Like insisting that your right to marry is determined not by your character or your devotion or your behaviour, but by your chromosomes. That’s immorality.

There surely comes a time at which the immorality of those in and around power — which includes politicians, the journalists that cravenly support them, and the corrupt police — finally turns upon itself. This immoral triangle of power, rusting and crumbling. That day might be closer than we think.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to buy some dungarees and possibly a small cave in the Lake District.

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