The government legitimacy deficit widens

legitimacy deficit
Chancellor George Osborne, left, and David Cameron in the House of Commons

Political power has been stolen from the British people. Political discourse hasn’t come clean about this yet, but government in the UK is suffering from a gradually-widening legitimacy deficit.

Through a combination of an outdated voting system and a neoliberal-friendly political campaign, the Conservatives won Thursday’s general election with just 36.9% of the vote. When expressed as a proportion of the British adult population, that figure falls to 24.4%.

In other words, today’s Conservative government has the active support of less than a quarter of the British people. Their election ‘victory’ is a travesty of democracy.

What makes this theft of power even more acute is how the Conservatives are using it to force through policies which have little or no popular support, and which are being directed against many of its own citizens.


The psychopath state

The Conservatives are:

This is the very definition of psychopath economics: the Conservatives are using their tenuous mandate to drive through a harsh neoliberal agenda that enriches and empowers the elite at the direct expense of everyone else.

But by doing so, they threaten to destroy the very foundations of the institutions of government, as well as the basis of their own power. This is economics by the psychopath, for the psychopath. It is exploitative, immiserating, impoverishing and completely self-destructive.

Indeed, the Tories’ whole economic agenda is about manipulating the British people into a position of dependancy on this rapacious elite. It seeks to achieve this by denying our common humanity, and our obligations to each other.


Expansion of corporate power

The result is a drive to remove or capture all sources of non-corporate power – such as public services, the welfare state, legal rights and protections, and especially democracy itself – so we are powerless to resist. In this way, the state has become an oppressor; a form of social and economic control. Forget welfare dependancy, we are being pushed into a state of corporate dependancy.

Psychopathic power concedes nothing without a threat. And so now our democratic system has been captured, political argument alone will have no effect. Instead, the only way for ordinary people to take back power is through a combination of civil disobedience, direct action, debt rebellion and attacks on corporate intellectual property.

The American revolution began with the slogan ‘no taxation, no representation’. In the UK, as with many Western democracies, the elite monopolises representation while minimising its payment of tax.


Tax rebellion

Meanwhile, judging by Thursday’s general election vote, the majority of ordinary Britons are saddled with high taxes for minimal representation. Tax rebellion would be a good first statement of intent in the exchanges to come.

Today’s unequal balance of power cannot be redressed without challenging the neoliberal state. Failure to do so will simply deliver our dependancy. If you can accept that, dear reader, then you’re a better person than I am.



Peter a journalist with 30 years experience of freelance writing, UK national newspaper and magazine production roles, and business development. In 2007, he developed and launched a mainstream-style green consumer magazine in the UK, called GreenerLiving, as a means of promoting sustainable change ‘within the system’. GreenerLiving closed during the post-crash recession, but Peter went on to become managing editor of the international ethical business title, Ethical Performance. However, Peter felt that the CSR sector has not succeeded in changing corporate priorities anywhere near fast enough, and so I decided to leave the treadmill of corporate employment and debt accumulation to focus on my own projects. Now poorer but a billion million times happier, he writes on political, economic and social issues – usually seriously, but sometimes as satire. He's currently writing Psychopath Economics, a book about the logic of social and economic power, belief systems, and the rise and fall of societies. Peter is convinced that ordinary people must educate themselves and exercise their economic leverage if we are to avoid social and environmental destruction.

peterbatt has 165 posts and counting.See all posts by peterbatt

2 thoughts on “The government legitimacy deficit widens

  • 11/05/2015 at 2:36 pm

    Peter as someone who in the last 6 months at the age of 57 joined my first political party and stood for parliament for the green party, I fully agree with the narrative you describe.

    I am pretty sure that 99% of 30,000 people who voted Tory in my constituency didn’t understand what they were voting for, the FUD of the SNP & Labour situation plus the misrepresentation of Labours role in the economic collapse ( and poor leadership ) meant ‘steady as she goes’ was the preferred option. All of this was amplified by a press dominated by billionaires continually reinforcing the message.

  • 11/05/2015 at 3:09 pm

    Yes, Richard, the most disappointing thing about this – apart from the result – was how limited the political debate was during the election campaign. This was, of course, partly down to Labour’s unambitious agenda, but then any party leadership seeking power must first fit into the press and media’s agenda. If they don’t, they risk losing any control over their own narratives and, with it, any chance of engaging the electorate. So Labour – and the Greens – were at an immediate, and enormous, disadvantage. A democracy relies on the plurality of its press and media. I’m all for media plurality; I don’t care whether parts of the press are as right-wing as the Daily Mail, provided there are credible and genuine alternatives that reflect the many and various shades of political opinion. But, like in the US, we don’t have a balanced media in the UK. Any party that isn’t accepted by the elite – including figures like Rupert Murdoch and the shady Barclay Brothers – are rubbished and excluded. They set the agenda. They decide what the issues are. And so the only way to redress the balance is to attack the right-wing press and media in exactly the same way as we should the elite and its political representatives – the Conservatives. They have to be brought ‘into play’, rather than accepted as part of a free press – because we don’t have a free press. As a Green candidate, you had an especially difficult task. None of the stuff around sustainability, for instance, got anywhere near the news agenda. Climate change, and our role in driving it, has largely vanished from mainstream political discourse. In my view, it’s time to direct our legitimate anger at disrupting the system, with argument and action. I wish it wasn’t true that our democracy has failed us, but that conclusion is inescapable now.

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