Earthquake: The UK Leaders Debates (2015)

Go to: The Ends of the British State in Planet Magazine: The Welsh Internationalist

Go to: “They Destroy, We Create: The Anti-Austerity UK Alliance” in Planet Magazine: The Welsh Internationalist

Go to: Athens Without Slavery: The Battle For Europe – Syriza and the New European Left



The UK Leaders Debates

James Luchte


Ed Miliband and the Hug


The UK Leaders Debates Have Served to Rebalance Political Discourse in the UK and Could Determine the Composition of the Next Government.

As we arrive at the second UK Leaders Debate (Thursday, April 16), there is a recognisable shift in political discourse of the UK. It seems that all the establishment parties are now pandering to the “needs of the people” agenda and are steering away from the “blame the poor” agenda of the far right UKIP.

This seismic shift in UK political discourse was brought about not only by the disintegration of the binary two-party system in the UK, but also by the emergence of viable and credible minority options, such as the Scottish National Party, the Green Party and Plaid Cymru – The Party of Wales. Their inclusion in the first debate and their obvious success on that night have altered the landscape of the UK irreversibly.

I will not burden you with a detailed history, but will try to describe this new landscape.

In a recent article, Yanis Varoufakis FM of Greece wrote of the intensification of vitriol and a politics of fabrication and spin – he was inviting his colleagues to simmer their passions and engage in a good faith dialogue toward a practical solution of the Greek situation. Greece wishes only to be embraced as a fellow nation in the community of nations that is the European Union.

The question of the way forward in Greece and Europe, the world, is to, with Varoufakis look at the world as it is – to embrace reality and actually work collectively to build a better, freer Europe and world.

In tandem with an acknowledgement of reality is a contestation of narratives – the current period is a shift away from the European and global narrative of austerity to the narrative of meeting the people’s present and future needs.

In the United Kingdom, just as in Greece, the United Kingdom – a discordant “union” to say the least – there has been the domination of the political landscape by two major political parties. Politics has been, for decades, binary, as the merry-go-round of Labour and Tory, or, in the case in Greece, Pasok and New Democracy.

We all know what happened in January. Actually, two significant events took place, amongst all the myriad events of the everyday throughout the world: Syriza won in Greece and the parties of the Anti-Austerity UK alliance won admittance to the UK wide Leaders Debates, thereby instigating the shift in narrative from that of austerity to that of the alternative, a non-binary possibility that seeks to change the rules.

Yanis Varoufakis is an economist who specialises, among many interests, in Game Theory, which is a way of seeing the world as a situation which is negotiable, a situation in which sub-games may be introduced to negotiate a creative and positive solution to a disagreement. It can only be a healthy turn in European politics to have the fresh air of different philosophies, methods, and perspectives.

The same is occurring in the not-so-United Kingdom. There remains a deep aura of suspicion and mistrust after the revelation of a near split in Scottish public opinion in the Referendum. Leanne Wood, speaking at the SNP Conference in November, 2014, said the Scottish referendum was the beginning of a democratic revolution.

This call for a Democratic Revolution was followed in December by the announcement by the SNP, Plaid Cymru and The Green Party of an Anti-Austerity front in the 2015 UK General Elections. The first fruits of this anti-austerity front was the inclusion in the Leaders Debates of Natalie Bennett, Nicola Sturgeon and Leanne Wood, the respective leaders of the Green Party, Scottish National Party (SNP) and Plaid Cymru – The Party of Wales.

The first Leaders Debate was a resounding success, not only for the Anti-Austerity front, but also for ITV and Twitter. The Seven-Way Leaders Debate was one of the most important events of the year so far – and a transformational event at that.

There has been an earthquake, an opening up – waking up – of the political discourse of the United Kingdom to alternative narratives and possibilities. Such a new enlightenment is a healthy and irreversible contribution to the development of democracy in the United Kingdom. Instead of the Four Shades of Westminster Grey, as the Anti-Austerity UK alliance has it, the inclusion of the SNP, Plaid Cymru, and the Green Party is a hard-won phase in a broader and on-going peaceful and democratic revolution.

The Second Leaders Debate could give us a glimpse sans Farage at the next governing Coalition, a Centre-Left coalition which will scrap Trident and end the politics of austerity, privatisation, tax dodging, and corruption.

As Nicola Sturgeon asked Ed Miliband before, “Will you work with me to lock the Tories out?’ (First Leaders Debate)

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