Editorial – An Honest Election Broadcast

If his speech to the Tory Conference last month is anything to go by, Michael Howard has realised that politicians generally are perceived as people who make promises they can’t deliver on just to get elected.

This is indeed the prevalent perception but it needs to be pointed out that, even if every politician were honest and genuinely interested in improving the lives of ordinary people rather than in furthering their careers, this would not make any difference. The problems we face don’t arise from governments being composed of dishonest or self-serving politicians. What a government can do depends, not on the honesty or determination or competence of its members, but on the way the capitalist system works and on what, as a profit-making system, it requires any government – even one composed of selfless saints – to do. Capitalism just cannot be made to work in our interest.

Howard has evidently been advised by his spin-doctors that, by tapping into this perception of politicians as lying self-seekers and presenting his party’s candidates as honest and trust-worthy, he could be on to a vote-winner. We doubt if this ploy will work but we offer below an election address that can be used, without our permission or need to acknowledge its source, by any aspiring politician, of whatever party, who really wants to be honest.

“Dear Electors,
I come before you as a candidate of a party which stands for keeping the present basis of society as the ownership of productive resources by a tiny minority of the population and where goods and services are produced, not to directly satisfy people’s needs, but for sale with a view to profit.

If my party wins a majority of seats we will form a government that will manage the political side of this capitalist system, hopefully more efficiently than one formed by the other parties. Honesty compels me, however, to point out that, despite what my party has claimed in all previous elections, what governments can do within the framework of capitalism is severely limited.

No government, not even one formed by my party, can control the way the profit-driven capitalist economy works. Experience of governments formed by my party and by other parties has demonstrated that capitalism is governed by the economic law of “no profit, no production” and is periodically subject to ups and downs of economic activity which no government can prevent and which all governments have to ride out at best they can.

As capitalism can operate only as a profit-making system in the interests of the tiny profit-taking minority who own and control the means of production, any government formed by my party will be obliged to give priority to the interests of this minority. I am therefore not in a position to make any promises to improve conditions in any field for ordinary men and women like yourselves. I can promise, on the other hand that, whenever making profits comes into conflict with meeting your needs, priority will be given to profit-making. I pledge myself, if elected, to support any such austerity measures in the full knowledge of the misery and distress this will bring to many of you and without trying to pass them off as essential if you are to have jam tomorrow.

My opponents in this election also support the present capitalist system and if their party formed the government it would act in the same way. So, if you want to keep the capitalist system and are prepared to put up with its consequences, it does not matter which one of us you vote for or, for that matter, whether you vote at all.

I would however request that you do vote for me since, unless I am elected an MP, I won’t be able to pursue my chosen career of professional politician.”

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