By George, British Politics is Opening UP

“They can’t lie straight in bed, they say one thing and mean another and they just answer a question with a question”. So said a voter in Bradford West in answer to a question as to whether the three main parties Labour, Conservative, and Lib Dems have lost touch with the grass roots.

A poll by the Independent on Sunday shows that 72% of people believe the Government is “out of touch with ordinary voters” and 60% do not trust the Prime Minister and the Chancellor on the economy. Yet the Labour Party lost this safe seat in a landslide to George Galloway.

People do not trust this government but they are not willing to put their trust in Labour either. And who could blame them for that? George Galloway put the reasons for the lack of trust in the main parties colourfully and succinctly:

If a backside could have three cheeks then they [the main parties] are the three cheeks of the same backside. They support the same things, the same wars, the same neoliberal policies to make the poor poorer for the crimes of the rich people. And they are not believable. Nobody believes what they say.

The report “Reading The Riots” commissioned by the Guardian and the London School of Economics quotes a 23 year old man from Liverpool who took part in the UK (August 2011) riots saying: “It doesn’t really matter if it’s Labour or Conservative because the people behind the scenes are always the same…”

George Galloway articulated the frustration of ordinary voters, regardless of ethnicity or faith, with the politics of the main parties in a way that resonated with their daily struggles and experiences. So please let us not insult their intelligence by suggesting that faith and ethnicity has something to do with his victory. Lest we forget he was standing against a local Muslim ethnic minority Labour candidate.

It is not only politicians that are out of touch. The BBC, funded by us, the taxpayers, is meant to reflect the opinions of people across Britain. Alas, it is no longer doing that. When, if ever, do we hear political opinions that challenge the economic orthodoxy of austerity and wars?

Discussions are restricted to establishment figures and the main political parties arguing within the parameters of the middle ground, tweaking this policy or that but no major rethink of an economic policy that is manifestly unfair and unjust. Moreover, it does not even work within the narrow objectives it has set for itself.

In any case, this narrow band of the middle ground is where the main parties perceive it to be. They are wrong. The BBC has a duty to air other opinions, Caroline Lucas leader of the Green Party for example, and yes, George Galloway and others to puncture the straight jacket in which discussions are conducted. It is a must for true democracy, so that an informed decision can be made by us, the electorate. Additionally, I have no doubt that it will lift the quality of the debate.

The Bradford West by-election has demonstrated the pent up distrust of all major parties and their policies of wars and cuts. People are yearning for leaders who can sincerely articulate their worries and their struggles; George Galloway did that and the electorate rewarded him with an emphatic win.

Adnan Al-Daini (PhD, Birmingham University, UK) is a retired University Engineering lecturer. He is a British citizen born in Iraq. He writes regularly on issues of social justice and the Middle East. Read other articles by Adnan.