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B&M or Home Bargains?

02 Jun 2024 5 minute read
Voting ballot box.

Ben Wildsmith

Thank God for democracy! In return for not lopping off the heads of the Windsor family we get to send whomever we like to parliament on our behalf.

It is, in theory, the only agency a person can exercise that isn’t determined by wealth. Just as in our free market economy, where you are at liberty to express your very dignity by deciding whether to buy pan scourers from Home Bargains or B&M, you can choose between red and blue at the ballot box.

It’s slightly different this time, after the management at B&M nicked most of the stock and set fire to the store but you’re still in control, sovereign citizen.

Tremble before the majesty of your decision.


The homogenisation of life in the 21st Century gives me the ick. Wherever I go in the world, people are selling the same tat, all sourced from central warehouses and circling the globe in shipping containers before being passed off as local handicrafts to saps like me.

My spirit rages against it even as my card details are being captured by a bloke in traditional dress and sent to Visa or Mastercard.

The revulsion of everything being a simulacrum of life as it used to be is clinging to me during this election.

I’m fine with politicians lying to me. It’s what they do. We price in a healthy percentage of bullshit promises at election time just as we know that souk-purchased Rolexes are unlikely to have been crafted within earshot of a cuckoo clock.

The base line, after all the flannel, was that taxes were supposed to go down under the Tories and public services were supposed to get better under Labour.

In practice, the difference was far less than promised but those were the ambitions. The rich want lower taxes, the poor want better services and those in between decide the election depending on how far the pendulum has swung.

Your only obligation is to vote for your own interests.

Ming vase

Not this time, apparently. We have heard much about Labour’s ‘Ming vase’ strategy in this election. The party has been disciplined not to promise anything that might spook the electorate out of trusting it with power. 20% ahead in the polls and rising, the strategy seems to have been a success.

The only public figure who still believes that Keir Starmer can be derailed on his way to Downing Street is Peter Hitchens, in his role as the mad old aunt of British commentary.

But, despite the Ming vase being swaddled in three yards of bubble wrap and under 24-hour guard by Special Branch, Labour is adamant that it could shatter at any moment.

Only by chasing down every last Conservative voter, deep into the leafy lanes of Surrey, can victory be assured. Sir Keir’s ‘changed’ party must become the natural party of government, as appealing to business as it is to workers.

The problem here is that the interests of hardcore Conservative voters are diametrically at odds with those of traditional Labour voters.

Put baldly, them ‘uns have all the stuff and us ‘uns want some of it. They have no incentive to see our services improve, and we have no interest in seeing their share dividends flourish further.

That presents Labour with a choice. They could choose to square that circle by putting the case for a more equal UK to those who have benefited from Conservative rule.


Poverty breeds crime and indolence, whilst a prosperous general population will, over time, spend their money on goods and services that provide a return to investors.

It’s a simple argument but one that requires an appeal to long-term thinking. Boris Johnson made this case with his levelling-up agenda, only to abandon it when the going got tough.

That case is not being made by Labour. Instead, it is appealing to Conservative voters with explicit promises not to disrupt their privilege.

Instead of selling the benefits of equality, it is quelling fears of it coming about. Meanwhile, those of us in deprived areas are receiving moral instructions that we are committing heresy if we so much as grumble about the party’s offering.

Not only are we to vote for policies crafted to appeal to people who share none of our concerns, we are to do it with a smile on our faces or be lumped in with the Tories.

The sole benefit of the first-past-the-post system is its reflection of local character. To mitigate the absence of direct influence on government, we are permitted to send our brightest and best to advocate for us.

If that check is removed from the process, it becomes a tyranny, regardless of which party is in power.

Wholly divorced

As Labour candidates are imposed on Welsh constituencies, and a closed-list system looms for Senedd elections, we are becoming wholly divorced from our governance.

What possible incentive will a UK Labour government have to act in our interests if the only jeopardy it faces comes from voters in the traditionally Conservative constituencies of England?

What resistance will it encounter from Labour members of the Senedd whose candidature is gifted by the UK party?

As the parties lay out their wares at this election, we need to be inspecting them carefully.

Democracy in the UK has always been a compromised and flimsy concession of influence.

To enjoy even that, we had to threaten disorder on a regular basis.

What we’re being offered now looks like a Chinese knock-off to me.

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11 days ago

Highly depressing and every word true. I can only see one way for us to break this pattern and that is to breakup the UK.

Vote Plaid Cymru.

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