What if they called an election and nobody showed up to vote?
It's an interesting thought experiment which cuts to the heart of the question of the legitimacy of systems of political power. What power do people have, and why do they hand it over to a small number of usually very rich and pompous people?
This is the point at which I get to muse over the horrifying state of British politics. It has been an ongoing dumpster fire for as long as I can remember. In fact, when was the last time the UK had a government which I thought was even slightly worthwhile? Perhaps for a brief period between 1997 and 2000 when the Blair administration still had a lot of goodwill behind it and hadn't yet majorly screwed up. Apart from that it's pretty much a sequence of swindlers, thieves and war criminals. People to whom the concept of having principles or standing for any sort of decency is utterly alien.
In general elections I sometimes read the manifestos. This time I havn't read them in any detail, but just skimmed through looking for anything which might apply to the internet or cryptography. The Labour party manifesto says almost nothing about technology. It says they plan to designate a "Digital Ambassador", but not much more than that. By Contrast the Conservative manifesto has quite a lot of stuff about technology at the end of it. As you might imagine it's all bad and couched in the most sinister-sounding language imaginable.
The Conservatives basically want:
- A tax on social media (no, really, I'm not joking)
- Something very much like the identity system of India - i.e. identity cards in all but name
If the Conservatives win then some horribly mutated version of the campaigns against identity cards from the 2000s is likely to rise like a phoenix from the ashes of the previous centralized biometric hellscape, which was dumped in 2010 by the coalition government.
Taken together those two points mean more social control. Maybe they think they can do away with bothersome independent bloggers or social network systems by taxing them into oblivion.
The Corbyn Factor
I don't really count myself as a Corbynista. Perhaps I am the antiCorbynista. I find nearly all of the Labour party MPs to be despicable. At the last general election in 2015 one Labour MP said that the party had no intention of representing the interests of unemployed people, despite the existence of mass unemployment or underemployment via zero hours contracts and so on. The systematic attempts on two occasions of the Labour MPs to get rid of Corbyn is a measure of their very unprincipled character.
Corbyn himself though is perhaps the most electable Labour party leader within my lifetime. I think he comes from the older Labour movement tradition which predated the Blair era snakeoil purveyors and as such he is more grassroots oriented. It's pretty clear that's why he was supported by many of the ordinary Labour party members.
If you believe the TV news and the tabloids then Corbyn is definitely going to lose. They may be right because the recent council elections showed a significant increase in Conservative votes and a decrease for Labour. But there's an outside chance that this might be another Brexit moment. Theresa May is complacently believing that she's going to coast to victory, and if there's one thing the voting public doesn't like it's a smug bastard who just keeps repeating the same lame slogan and expecting everyone to find it compelling. Also whereas Corbyn has some, admittedly diminutive, amount of personal charisma Theresa May has about as much charisma as a soggy sheet of cardboard. And it's showing in her campaign.
A Carnival of Fools
I think 2017 could be the first internet general election for the UK. That is, an event where the internet instead of the more traditional "old media" publishers held a bigger sway over the popular psyche. We're now in the age of filter bubbles and so it's genuinely difficult to judge how effective the Conservative's propaganda is. I'm seeing a lot of suspiciously glowing depictions of Corbyn, and nothing about Theresa May except for spoofs and satirical cartoons. So far as I can ascertain the Conservative's online propaganda machine is genuinely abysmal and barely registering on the radar.
As in previous general elections I'll probably vote, but I'm undecided who to vote for. It definitely won't be Conservative or UKIP though, that much is certain. I'd rather not spend the next few years having to campaign against compulsory identity cards all over again. When it comes down to it I might just flip a coin, or try to pick the least authoritarian most pro-commons candidate.