- Created on 08 December 2015
What does yet another war mean for 'democracy'?
Last week, days before the MPs voted whether or not UK was to do some 'good' bombing of Syria, many Southwark residents sent emails to Neil Coyle, Harriet Harman and Helen Hayes, asking them to vote against the 'intervention'. Helen Hayes voted against it. Neil Coyle did not reply to residents until a day or so before the vote, saying he would be voting for it. Harriet Harman never replied to anyone.
Considering this is 'Labour' and Southwark, this did not come as too much of a surprise. There were too many times in the past when local residents pleaded with the 'Labour' MPs to oppose this government's vicious policies of extermination of the poor, the disabled and the vulnerable and when the pleads fell on deaf ears.
The practice of 'thou shalt ignore the resident at all costs' or 'the resident is always wrong' seems to be one of the rules of the (local) Labour club. Like MPs like councillors. Councillors will claim that you having to move out of Southwark to a place where you can't find work, don't know anyone, so you spend much more money on travel and less on food, health, leisure etc is 'fairer for all' (and fairer for you, even though you are now considerably poorer than you were while you were living in Southwark). Your attempt to argue against this will be ignored and/or dismissed as political/anti-capitalist/whatever. In fact, any valid alternatives presented by people who are not members of the Labour club will only be considered if they do not challenge the latest friends/partners' ability to make a lot of profit for themselves.
Meanwhile, back in the world of MPs, you would think that the inevitability and finality of blood, of torn limbs and dead men, women and children, would make a difference. That local residents asking their MPs to say no to killing 'in our name' would be heard. And you'd be as wrong as expecting your local councillors to do anything of the sort.
A tiny bit of difference this time round was that the 'Labour' party was not going to be whipped into voting one way or another. The case 'for' was far from convincing, the case against much more so. And then the MPs voted, and a handful of Conservatives voted against the intervention, and 66 Labour MPs agreed with the Conservative government that we should bomb Syria. Some would argue that the Labour MPs who voted for the bombing were 'Red Tories' anyhow. Others pondered if any of those who voted 'yes' would be prepared to practice what they preach, ie operate that plane, fire that sniper etc. Or how cosy some of the MPs were with the companies profiteering from wars etc.
What happened next however took us by surprise. Certain Labour MPs went to the Telegraph (the natural home of the Blairites?) claiming that, because Jeremy Corbyn let the party members decide for themselves as to how they'll vote on this question, Jeremy Corbyn has now made them, the MPs who voted with their own minds and/or consciousnesses open to terrorist attacks/abuse/intimidation etc. We have not been able to get round the 'logic' of this unless it was about the great discomfort those MPs felt when exposed as MPs who do not care what their constituents think, as MPs whose priorities were clearly considerably different to those of their constituents, as MPs whose own careers came before anything else - here's what one woman wrote to Lucy Powell, her MP, “You have now turned my country into a war zone and I did not sign up for this. You turned our streets, tube stations, bus stations, venues and football stadiums into a war zone. And the retaliation will be huge. In the past a war zone was a defined area, where armies would fight. But you just turned me and our entire population into an army without a choice. Without weapons. You made us participate in this and we did not want to”.
Some of the MPs who voted for bombing did get online threats, others invented them. Yet the people are told we cannot talk about deselecting anyone, because talking about deselecting an MP who is meant to represent you and who repeatedly fails to do so is 'intimidation', it's 'aggressive' and we can't have any of that. Your trying to discuss this or any other deeply concerning issue, say, by sending your MP an email, is clearly also 'intimidation', no wonder none of your emails get answered and no wonder our MPs have to block us on social media...
Because democracy is all about voting for the people who are already in power every four or five years?