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Year 2010 No. 18, April 26, 2010 ARCHIVE HOME JBBOOKS SUBSCRIBE

Second “Leaders’ Debate”:

The Pro-War Consensus

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Second "Leaders' Debate":
The Pro-War Consensus

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Second “Leaders’ Debate”:

The Pro-War Consensus

The second “leaders’ debate” of the Westminster cartel took place in Bristol last Thursday, concentrating on foreign policy and other issues. Once again, it was promoted as a talent contest, with the leaders in competition, and viewers of the televised confrontation given the role of deciding who came out on top.

What was significant in the midst of this circus, in which serious issues were covered over, was the pro-war consensus. All of these leaders said that if they were Prime Minister they would continue the war in Afghanistan and would commit Britain to waging future wars similar to their war of occupation in Afghanistan.

Gordon Brown specifically singled out Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for future attention and claimed that his wars were for security and to defeat terrorism. Nick Clegg claimed that his wars would be making Britain a force for good. David Cameron said that his wars would be fighting for the national interest.

This is no consolation for over a million people that have died in Iraq in an illegal war which was supported by all three of these parties even though the Liberal Party initially opposed the war, in the sense of voting against troops being despatched to Iraq, but then supporting it as a fait accompli. This is no consolation for the thousands of people killed and being killed in Afghanistan. With the consensus on further wars, the leaders present no future for the youth, many of whom will be killed for the ambitions and unjust wars of one of these pro-war party leaders set to take office following May 6. Their deaths will be added to the nearly 500 soldiers already killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and the thousands injured and maimed.

The “leaders’ debate”, and especially on this question, exhibits the worst kind of populism, that is a rousing of passions and appealing to what is most base. A genuine debate would answer the needs of the electorate to be able to make an informed vote, with the issues carefully explained. Usually in these reality tv shows, it is the contestants who are set up to justify the lowering of society’s cultural level. In these leaders’ debates, it is the electorate itself which is being made the dupe. Only the serious involvement of the electorate in selecting candidates, in setting the agenda for the election, in working out a legislative programme, and so on, can rectify this situation.

The “leaders’ debate” epitomises the way the big Westminster parties of the ruling elite set out to split and divide the polity and prevent it from uniting around an aim which favours the people. They encourage the people to give up their own thinking and experience, their own struggles, their own compassion and humanity, and line up behind this or that faction. The tragic irony of this situation is that this system of representative democracy not only guarantees that the people will be debarred from power and influence, but that the pro-war, anti-social and anti-worker consensus of government will continue. It underlines the necessity for building a Workers’ Opposition which will uphold the values and humanity which characterise the historic role of the working class.

To reiterate what WDIE wrote on the first election debate regarding the aim of the ruling elite and monopoly media: “Firstly, the aim is to test out the personal popularity and ‘presidential’ qualities of the party leaders in front of the electorate. This is to direct the debate among the people away from their struggles to provide solutions to the problems that they face on the basis of their own perspective, towards the perceived talent or charisma of the leaders. The attempt is to pressurise people to abandon their interests and their direct experience and, far from selecting and voting for candidates from among their peers, to take sides from among the three.

“Secondly, the debates are an attempt to shore up and consolidate the Westminster cartel as the only option. […] And the fraud is consolidated that it is only the ‘big three’ which matter. The exposure of the big media bolstering the big party cartel is already underway.

“Thirdly, the aim is to set the political agenda for the electorate, to prevent the electorate from taking control of what are the election issues. In particular, severe cuts to social programmes are a foregone conclusion; the debate is fixed around immediate and deep versus drawn out. In this respect, the media have also been complicit in the very noticeable ‘don't talk about the war’ conspiracy of silence that surrounds the election campaign.

“The underlying aim is to obscure the role played by people in the political life of the country. Politics is driven down to the lowest levels, presented dogmatically as a set of policies and personalities around which active thinking and participation by the electorate plays no role whatsoever. The sets of policies, the forgone conclusions, are presented to marginalise the people and present politics as something that should be left in the hands of the professional experts and politicians of the big parties.”

This situation cannot and must not be allowed to continue. WDIE calls on the working class and people to get further organised on the basis that the future for the people can only be secured by relying on their own thinking and their own efforts. Taking a stand in favour of democratic renewal and an anti-war government is the order of the day, and developing discussion amongst one’s peers on how to advance and implement this stand.

Bring the Troops Home Now!
Fight for an Anti-War Government!
Elect Candidates of the Alternative and Work for the People’s Empowerment!
Build the Workers’ Opposition!

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