April 19, 2011
An interesting post from Chris Dillow on Cameron’s ‘gut feelings’ around the AV referendum. Interesting indeed, because towards the end of the post he appears to be moving towards a similar ‘gut feeling’ about the lack of justice inherent in the power structures Cameron is seeking to defend.
He is right to do so; one of the features of this referendum has been the very clear dividing line between those who are seeking to defend our current structures of power and those who are seeking to overturn them, however slightly. At the gut level, liberalism is about power – not legalistic theories or shopping lists of rights. It’s about feeling – and I do mean feeling – that the concentration of power in the hands of any one individual or group is an abomination. If necessary, that power must be wrested from them and distributed as widely as possible.
AV accomplishes that in a minor way by permitting preferential voting, handing voters the power to express their democratic preferences outwith the framework of the main parties without simultaneously losing their influence. It is bad for the sort of American-style tribal politics which keeps the electorate locked up in two boxes, never allowing a diversity of opinion to flourish. To oppose it is revealing – it implies that you prefer to restrain public opinion, lest it become too diverse and your interests become threatened. It is this, therefore, which lies at the root of the opposition of right–wing libertarians; to them, freedom is only something that is acceptable inasmuch as it does not threaten the interests of capital. That is not liberalism, and is indeed a long way from it.
So therefore, my fellow campaigners, I would urge you to get angry. The polls aren’t looking good for us, and the only thing that might save the campaign right now is reaching out at the gut level to our latent supporters – who are everyone whose interests do not lie in the current structures of power.