One of the fundamental failings of ‘UK democracy’ is that the establishment, to all intents and purposes, controls all the levers of power. So, while it is true that a large percentage of the UK population has the right to vote, the real question of how much actual political power exists within that vote, is very rarely discussed. But when Russell Brand decided to throw his hat, albeit still very grubby from his fall from establishment favour, into the arena of progressive politics, it tantalised the establishment media into engaging with him. You know how they are when it comes to celebrities mired in sex scandals, they will use almost any excuse to pick through the bones.
Now, before getting too far into the actual debate of whether the UK is a democracy or not, it is worth remembering, that although the serious political media engaged with Brand, it did so very much within a wider anti-democratic framework. That being, the framework that gives a platform to people who are famous for what is often something entirely irrelevant to what they are holding court on, rather than an unknown person that has a greater knowledge or more relevant experiences. Why ask someone that has campaigned and studied a subject their entire life who will have true insight, when you can have an ill-informed vacuous celebrity attention seeker who might talk about sex instead.
But I digress. In terms of whether or not the UK is a democracy, there are hundreds of studies on how riven by class UK society is. And, probably an equal amount on just how anti-democratic the pantomime that we call UK democracy is. But perhaps what is different today, is that we now have a very clear example of how the establishment responds when their power is threatened by an organised movement of the masses demanding equality. For the first time, in my memory, there is a very real chance of a large actual socialist movement being successful in the parliamentary process. And because of that, one only needs to step back for a moment to see the levers of power shifting and stepping up through the anti-democratic gears. Quite predicatably, fear and hatred fast becomes the only message being disseminated by the institutions of control.
But unlike before, many people are now making the connections. The problem isn’t the right-wing press, they have always been sociopaths. No, what is truly interesting is just how the establishment sanctioned, so-called ‘left-leaning liberal’ intelligentsia and media institutions react to the possibility of an electoral mandate for socialism. It is those sorts of news outlets and columnists, the ones that cry crocodile tears at the injustices in the world, and who present themselves as the unbiased voice of the masses, that at these sorts of times show their true motivations. While their peer groups, educations, family wealth, incomes and tax bills are more akin to the exploiter class, it is not entirely surprising that underneath that façade of humanitarianism, when their affluence is truly threatened, they are just too invested in the inequality to maintain the lie very long.
Not a lot has changed since November 2013 when, prompted by the media debate over Russell Brand’s comments, I wrote a 3,000 word essay on the political and electoral process in UK democracy. It was called The Right to Vote in a Rigged Game and was published by New Left Project. To read it here or to download a .txt version please click through to the page.