In a Telegraph article, talking about her worst day in politics, Natalie Bennett was still positive about one thing:
“I think we’re going to see massive change in British politics.”
This goes together with the “peaceful revolution” (which sounds a lot like what Russell Brand is after) that Bennett also tells us is just around the corner. This gets echoed in the political media on occasion, for different reasons than the leader of the Greens touts it. Basically, it sounds a lot more exciting than “everyone’s going to have a hissy for a few weeks, and then we’ll get 2010 all over again”. But the Greens really believe it. UKIPers really believe it. Everything is about to change in British politics, apparently. Except, of course, that it isn’t.
The exception is Scotland, where we probably will see a changing of the guard between Labour and the SNP. But this is something that has been slowly happening over the last decade. It is wholly different to the Greens or UKIP rising in the polls. The SNP have the data via the Holyrood elections. They have the foot soldiers via the referendum campaign. They have proof of being able to lead via having been in government for a long time in Edinburgh. And they have their vote concentrated in what is population wise, a small part of the country overall.
People who have power don’t give it up quietly. That’s why Russell and Natalie ought to be aware of the fact that we have had a lot of unquiet revolutions throughout human history. The “establishment”, however broadly you wish to define that, is reasonably relaxed at the moment. And there’s good reason for them to be: the electoral system is firmly on their side.
The First Past the Post Voting System is built for elections like this. When the old duopoly has little to say between them and looks threatened by insurgents on all sides. There have been a lot of comparisons between the 2015 general election to come and the 1992 version, but there could be a lot of shades of 1983 on May 7th as well. This was the election when the Liberal-SDP Alliance got 25% of the vote – and 23 seats in total. An election where Labour ran the worst campaign ever, with the worst leader they’ve ever had, getting 27% of the vote – and still ending up with 209 seats. Labour were protected by the system. As both Labour and the Tories will be this time out. As a result, they will be more determined than ever to protect that system. They will also have the power to do so.
I know a lot of people would like to think big time change is on its way in a few weeks time. Actually, just having another hung parliament, which looks almost certain to happen, will be pretty big stuff in and of itself. But that’s it. Anyone expecting the Greens or UKIP to be calling the tune in the post-election frenzy hasn’t looked at their history close enough.