Two Views of the General Election

From “William, Prime Minister”, by Richmal Crompton (1930):

“Do shut up int’ruptin’, said Henry, “I’m tryin’ to tell you ‘bout this gen’ral election. There’s four sorts of people tryin’ to get to be rulers. They all want to make things better, but they want to make ‘em better in different ways. There’s Conservatives an’ they want to make things better by keepin’ ‘em jus’ like what they are now. An’ there’s Lib’rals an’ they want to make things better by alterin’ them jus’ a bit, but not so’s anyone’d notice, an’ there’s Socialists, an’ they want to make things better by taking everyone’s money off ‘em and there’s Communists an’ they want to make things better by killin’ everyone but themselves.”

From “The Social Contract”, by Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1762):

The English people thinks it is free; it is greatly mistaken, it is free only during the election of Members of Parliament; as soon as they are elected, it is enslaved, it is nothing. The use it makes of its freedom during the brief moments it has it fully warrants its losing it.

Those seem to me to be the two most important reflections. Am I missing anything else?

9 thoughts on “Two Views of the General Election”

  1. Chris, what are your thoughts on the Workers Revolutionary Party? http://www.wrp.org.uk They’re standing here in Streatham, else I wouldn’t have heard of them, but Labour aren’t really socialist now, so they’re crucial to the above characterisation…

  2. Really? How disappointing. They say they’re the UK branch of the 4th International, and are basically promoting a socialist revolution to get rid of capitalism. Would you not sympathise with that?
    They have a very smiley candidate.

  3. The WRP is Gerry Healy’s old outfit. The final sentence of the ODNB entry on Gerry Healy gives a flavour of the man:

    “In real life he was a talented organizer and orator, and an authoritarian, increasingly brutal dogmatist. He disillusioned thousands with Trotskyism, transforming it in the process into a variant of millenarian cultism.”

  4. Oh even if the WRP are defunct, never fear – many loons remain.

    Take, for example, the lady I recently met from The International Bolshevik Tendency (world wide membership: 100). She wanted to me to buy a copy of her official magazine “1917”, and to endorse policies such as aiding North Korea to attain nuclear arms to defend itself from Capitalist Imperialism, and arming the populace of Britain with guns because otherwise we can’t fight back against the capitalist state.

  5. The Clangers 1974 Election special can be viewed in full at any of the BFI Mediatheques – including the one in Cambridge Central Library. In fact, a whole load of classic political broadcasts have just been added.

  6. The first passage could use updating — to start with, I’d suggest, replacing “Communists” with BNP …

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