Having no political affiliation provides me with the space to criticise everyone, and there is much to criticise in our politicians. It must be very difficult to try to behave in a principled manner, while being dependent on the popular vote. Doubtless that is the reason why principles are so often lacking in democracy (except the principle that someone else is always to blame). The assumption that underpins democracy is that the voters will, overall, behave in a principled and intelligent manner. We can see, perhaps, why life for a politician is complicated.
At the eve of a general election, it is interesting to ponder that the whole idea of democracy is that voters hear all the arguments and vote in their own best interest. The Invisible Hand which Adam Smith identified as underpinning capitalism should then act to give the best solution for the voters as a whole.
What utter rubbish that is. The trouble with believing that democracy will give rise to a good outcome is that voters are rarely armed with the truth, and even if they were, they are not equipped with sufficient information to determine what is in their own best interest. Some might point to the election of President Trump or even the Leave vote as evidence of this – others will disagree – exactly my point. In “Paradise Lost”, John Milton blamed the fall of man on poor information, proving that it has a lot to answer for.
Unfortunately, we are facing an election that is a little like the Referendum: not a lot of facts, and nothing much to commend any of the options. Yet there is also the Trump v Clinton similarity: two dreadful options; which do you choose? Indeed, take your choice of two evils: democracy or what alternative?
What we know is that Brexit will happen, unless it doesn’t. We know that whatever happens, we will pay more tax under the next government and we will not reduce expenditure because no party has the stomach for that. Therefore we know the debt we are lumbering onto our children will continue to increase – though its speed and rate of acceleration may be up for grabs. We know Making Tax Digital – a euphemism for government taking over your life – will happen either way.
We know the NHS will not improve, because throwing money at the problem won’t help and no party in the frame has the competence to make it work. It will simply fail in different ways. We know that we will continue with high terror risks and disruptions from computer problems, because no-one has any solutions to those problems. We know also that the burden of regulation will continue and increase.
In other words, on the main issues, we know what is going to happen and it won’t make a lot of difference which party sits where. The decision we all have to make tomorrow is purely ideological. The hardened followers of their parties will remain loyal. Some will vote for the sheer comedy of seeing Diane Abbott in the Home Office. Others will see Boris as more amusing. There will be those who try to vote tactically – and they should remember that this will only lead to them not getting what they hope for.
In the end, no-one ever wins an election. Elections are lost, not won. Labour started on a very bad footing. While they have done very little to improve their standing with the bulk of the public, the Conservatives have been doing everything they possibly can to hand seats to Labour or Lib Dems. There really is nothing so “first-world” than an election which is all about how to slice up the cake, and not about how to make the cake bigger.
As business people, we spend our lives trying to grow businesses, grow the economy, create wealth and then hang on to it. It seems that our politicians now merely wish to consume our capital and income so that, in the end, there will not be very much left.
Possibly the most exciting general election since the last one.
Perhaps the time has come for some new political agendas to pop up?