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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The two-party system is dead

Charles Kennedy is the leader of the Liberal Democrats, the third force in British politics. In the upcoming general election, the party is poised to overtake the Tories as the alternative government. It's been a remarkable rise and in today's Guardian Kennedy explains the rationale behind their philosophy and the moral and political bankruptcy of Tony Blair's Labor party and Michael Howard's Tories.

In Australia, our media elite is determined to maintain the status quo, ensuring a pale version of democracy occurs every three years. During last year's Federal Election campaign, the Murdoch press conducted a fairly successfully deception against the Greens. Those with vested corporate interests and close ties to John Howard's Liberals or the Labor party simply could not allow a third-force to challenge. When our undemocratic political parties accept massive financial contributions from the business community, compromise and corruption is inevitable. The Aussie Greens recently launched this wonderful website, Democracy4Sale, detailing the ways in which our political elites are bought off annually.

But back to Kennedy: "At this election, I will make the case for a Britain that is governed as a progressive, outward looking, environmentally friendly society. I favour multiculturalism and our traditions of tolerance and inclusiveness. I will continue to talk positively about sensible immigration and asylum policies, and I shall keep a wary liberal eye on issues of civil liberty where the executive seeks to undermine hard won rights." The Liberal Democrats were also fiercely against the Iraq war.

Long-time anti-war and human rights activist, Tariq Ali, recently wrote that "for one day only" he would be a Liberal Democrat, because it was the only major party that had consistently fought the Iraq war and Blair's attacks on civil liberties.

In most Western democracies, we're constantly told that it's a choice between a bloke with ties to big business and another bloke, with ties to even bigger business. The Liberal Democrats prove that there is a third-way.


Blogger Guy said...

Despite being an ALP member, I do tend to think that the two-party preferred system is in a lot of ways past its used by date, particularly if you are talking about proportional representation.

It will be indeed interesting to observe how the Liberal Democrats progress in the upcoming elections. Suffice to say I could not bring myself to vote for Blair if I was living there and eligible to vote.

As for the Australian Greens, I think they need to somehow escape their popular image as an "enviromental" or "protest" party in order to achieve serious inroads into the territory that the ALP and the Liberals now enjoy. I'm not sure how they will do this, or indeed if it is even possible. It will be very hard for them to escape the very strong media image that the mainstream press (and to a certain extent - party members themselves) has foisted on the "Greens" party label.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005 4:21:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Antony,encouraged to hear that the Liberal Dems might be number 2, after election. The Torys still have time to use imported dirty tricks, at last moment, with oz expertise. Heard they are test running a bit of gypsy bashing ,for instance.

Maybe, Ruppy has slightly less influence over there and a fairer vote might eventuate. Fingers crossed. No hope for Australia.

Many don't get, how devastating The Sun-Herald campaign was for The Greens ,just before the election. In Australia, many deny the influence of this regional propaganda sheet.

It was a subtle stroke that will make children overboard look like small beer, in terms of influence on our future. Less subtle has been the medias lack of coverage of this critical scam. Media Watch hasn't touched it.

The Australian Press Council couldn't get the message out.
What hope have we?

Tuesday, April 05, 2005 5:36:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

What hope have we? Good question. Finding alternative forms of info dissemination, and not just speaking to our 'own.' The mainstream should be used and abused, as most people still gain from info from it.
Just read today in fact that Murdoch's Sun in the UK announced today it still hadn't decided who to support on election day. Probably Blair, I suspect. Still a massively powerful instrument for Rupert.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005 5:53:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reckon you agree that Ruppy/Kerry P, have won the game, as of new financial year. Interesting convergence there. Goodbye senate.

In Monopoly, I always imagined that the banks were the best buy.
Turns out, that they did not understand, that if you control the say ,you can buy off the bank and.........

Thanks, Antony

Tuesday, April 05, 2005 9:26:00 pm  
Blogger Flute said...

I'm not convinced of the Lib-Dems getting traction. They have filled the vacuum in the left after Blair's New Labour marched towards the middle and the Tories are in a woeful state (yippee!). However, the UK does not use preference voting and so unlike the beat up in Wentworth before the last election here, splitting the vote really does happen over there. Disaffected labour voters may switch to either the tories or the Dems, but I can't see that happening in such a way that will not see the tories take seats from labour. If the libs do take the opposition slot ahead of the conservatives, it may be the death knell of traditional labour politics, unless Gordon Brown takes over sharpish.

Old school labor politics died in the arse in Australia years ago so it would be a shame to see it disappear in the mother country too.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005 9:39:00 pm  
Blogger Ambrose said...

I am not quite sure that the conservative media necessarily wants the Lib-Lab status quo. They are there to make sure that free market -pro USA capitalism survives, and while the Greens were a cute irrelevancy they did not bother them, but when they they threaten to uspet the apple cart (especially in the Senate) then they did that stitch-up job. What I can say to the Greens is: Welcome to the real world.

The Greens often complain (with some justification) that the ALP is too wishy-washy when it comes to alternative progressive politics. However if Labor had the same more progressive policies (especially when it comes to diminish the influence of capital and management) as the Greens you would have had the same treatement dished out to the Greens from the Murdoch media in spades. So they can't really whinge about mis-representation as the ALP has had that sort of treatement many times before.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005 2:57:00 pm  
Anonymous Piginzen said...


Having just returned from three years in the UK, and being an interested but not obsessive follower of UK politics, I am looking forward to the election with interest. The Lib-Dems have proven themselves to be the second party after Lab in several local council elections, however many English commentators have pointed out the inherent conservatism in national politics, with voters tending to stick with the Lab / Tory coin toss (well at least those who could be bothered to vote on a Thursday workday). Many voters appear to be willing to tick the Lib-Dem box in local elections, but may be tentative to do the same when selecting the nation's parliament. An increased voter turnout for the Lib-Dems may well see some changes to Blair's policies if he finds himself battling for the votes not of dyed in the wool Tories, but with straying traditional Lab supporters. Roll on May.

By the way, good to see you blogging. I fell across webdiary three years ago yearning for some news "from home" and have been an avid reader since. I hope this site becomes just as successful.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005 3:36:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

All very interesting comments (and thanks for the welcome, Piginzen.)
Voters are inherently conservative and when fear is used and abused, by the major political parties here, the UK and America, the results speak for themselves. The Lib-Dems are not without problems, but to give the two majors a massive scare would be wonderful. Witness the scare campaign here against the Greens, by the media, ALP and Libs, and yet around 7% still voted for Bob Brown's party.
In the UK, I hope Charles Kennedy shows the policies of hope, as he articulated at his campaign launch yesterday. We can only hope.
Now we just have to 'reform' the conservative media. May blogging be the beginning...

Wednesday, April 06, 2005 4:45:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're dreaming.

Current polls show no sign of the LDs coming in second:

Guardian/ICM: Lab 37 Con 34 LD 21 (Lab lead 3%)
Times/Populus: Lab 37 Con 35 LD 19 (Lab lead 2%)
FT/Mori: Lab 38 Con 33 LD 23 (Lab lead 5%)

Wednesday, April 06, 2005 7:54:00 pm  

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