Co-editors: Seán Mac Mathúna • John Heathcote
Consulting editor: Themistocles Hoetis
Field Correspondent: Allen Hougland


British Election preview
John Heathcote

UK Election coverage - From Guardian Online

Election 2001

Although the media are hailing up another Labour Party landslide in Britain today, we would remind our readers that we have been here before.

In both the 1992 election in Britain, and the 1970 election which brought in the disastrous Heath Government, the British electorate had been led to believe that the election was in Labour's grasp.

Many Flame readers will say, quite rightly that voting means little, if nothing; and that Western Democracy is a fix between two parties representing the same, largely invisible power structure. That even by voting, you give politicians the right to use it as a mandate for anything they wish to impose.

Indeed, we at Flame would agree without hesitation that neither of the main parties touch even tangentially on some of our most important concerns about our society and the future of the planet.

Neither of them have the courage to approach reform of the constitution; which would involve a real discussion on the role of the monarchy in a third millenium nation of multi-cultural, pluralistic and largely educated citizenry.

Nor, for instance, has there been any serious discussion of a complete overhaul of the Misuse of Drugs Act, an American-inspired Prohibition, which since its introduction in the 60's , has resulted in the impoverishment and death of countless poor or vulnerable people, the enrichment of gangsters, and corruption of the legal system.

Nor has either of the main parties really approached the problems affecting the environment; from energy production to food production.

The public transport system in Britain remains a shambles, although with the imminent bankruptcy of the privatised rail corporation, it is just possible that the Government will be forced to step in and effectively bring Railtrack under democratically accountable control again.

All of these issues are central to the common wealth of the people of these islands, yet we effectively have no way to change them through the ballot box.

However, there are good reasons for casting one's vote.

Anyone who thinks that this is, or should be the limit of their power in a so-called democratic country, is politically naïve.

All the popular vote does is give the Establishment a mandate for what they can get away with over the next four or five years.

If people do not give the Labour Party a mandate to govern in this country, by casting enough votes for them on Thursday 8th June , then the Conservative Party will re-emerge from the shadows and become the Government by default.

As we have seen from the USA, Bush was desperate to maintain the image of a democratically elected politician despite the fact that he stole the election, as numerous studies now reveal.

He then used this as a 'mandate' to impose the most right-wing agenda in American history &endash; which thankfully seems to have been de-railed by one conscious Senator from the liberal wing (if you can call it that) of the Republican Party.

Have no doubt that if the Conservatives did win in Britain, their arrogance would know no bounds. They have appealed to a narrow xenophobic Little England mentality, that is unhealthy even as a cynical ploy to win votes.

For this reason, as well as their unhealthy trust of the USA over Europe, and their adoption since the days of Thatcher of the worst aspects of American capitalism, they deserve to be destroyed at the polls and effectively reduced to an English National Party.

They have no representation at Westminster for Wales or Scotland, and the Liberal Democrats would provide a more effective opposition to the Labour Party.

Despite the Labour Party's appalling record in office on Civil Liberties legislation; on the ever growing divide between rich and poor; and their adherence to a generally social democrat &endash;corporate agenda; they remain the choice out of the two parties if you are not rich enough to benefit from the Welfare State being completely sold off in the next ten years. It has to be said that the reasons for voting Labour are still the same.

To make sure that the boot on your neck is just a little lighter.

To ensure the remaining pittance of your old mum's pension doesn't get siphoned off into an offshore fund (probably in Belize).

To pursue the aim that so many of us dreamt about through the twilight hell of the 80's, Thatcher's Britain; of finishing off once and for all the Conservative Party as one that could ever inflict the social division and deprivation that we saw then.

But, after saying this, we should remember that putting your cross on the ballot every few years is only that.

Liberty is a tree tended with eternal vigilance, as the poet once said.

Day one of a new Government is the day that we start to put the pressure on again, to make sure that four years later we still have a few more rights than just the right to vote.