Saturday 29 May 2021

Battling in Batley


There is a byelection in Batley and Spen because its MP Tracy Brabin has become Steward and Bailiff of the Chiltern Hundreds, which is an area in Buckinghamshire. What this means in ordinary English is that she became Mayor of West Yorkshire and had to resign her seat. Quite why Britain still indulges in this sort of medievalism is rather beyond me, but perhaps its quaintness attracts tourists.

Byelections usually don’t interest me at all. I don’t believe I have ever been to Batley and I had to look up that Spen is a river. But this byelection does interest me for a number of reasons.

I am a Conservative, but I try not to be tribal about it. I usually vote Conservative, but I don’t always. At a General Election I will hope for a Conservative Government, but I have supported the Lib Dems in the past and also Labour. I supported Brexit while recognising that there were some good arguments for Remain. But above all I support British democracy. I don’t want there to be permanent Conservative Government. I want Labour or an alternative opposition party to eventually form a government. I want this because democracy requires change of government otherwise it becomes corrupt.

The biggest problem for democracy in Scotland is partly our obsession with the constitution, which means that the Scottish Government is never judged on its record, but rather on its desire for independence. But more important than this is that there is at present zero chance of another party or parties becoming the Government. This has led to mediocrity and corruption, which can only be eliminated of by kicking the SNP out. But because we cannot kick them out, we are stuck with mediocrity and corruption.

Labour needs to change and another defeat like the one in Hartlepool might hasten that change. It is for this reason that I would suggest the voters in Batley and Spen might vote for George Galloway and his Workers Party of Britain.

It is odd for a Conservative to be recommending a party like this, but on the two key issues of the past few years I agree with the WPB. It supports both British unity and Brexit.

I disagree with George Galloway about many things. I support free markets, low taxes and small government. In foreign affairs I support the United States and Israel. I dislike singling out Israel for criticism that would not be applied to other countries acting in a similar way.  

But reasonable people can disagree about these issues. I put forward my views as clearly, forcibly and as reasonably as I can. But others can legitimately disagree, not least because I may be wrong.

There is a problem with free markets and capitalism in general. Corporations have become monopolies, which have an unhealthy control over our lives. Amazon, Facebook, Google and Twitter have crushed competition. Central Banks around the world have been printing money to the extent that money has become something of a confidence trick with nothing concrete to back it. The world of work is going to change radically over the coming decades and many jobs will become obsolete.

Just as previous revolutions made the jobs of Smith and Cooper archaic so too the Internet revolution is making shop workers unneeded and shops unnecessary. If workers can work from home, how long before those jobs are replaced by cheaper workers from other countries? We need new jobs and new thinking to deal with unemployment.

If we are not careful, we will end up with mass unemployment with most of the money belonging to international corporations. How then do we determine wages? Free market doctrines of supply and demand may struggle if few of us are employed and we are unable therefore to supply anything. Free markets only work when each of us has a reasonable chance of trading our skills and work for wages. But if the market is in the hands of corporations who produce everything then it would be rigged against the majority who could no longer take part.

At this point we may need ideas from the Left in order to find a way to divide fairly the wealth of a society which we would be as excluded from as during the era of barons and serfs.

If Labour wins the Batley and Spen byelection it will continue as it is. Keir Starmer is not going to be Prime Minister, so Labour must find someone who could be. It will only do so if it keeps getting defeated.

It will hardly matter if the Conservatives win another seat. Boris already has a huge majority.

The best chance of getting some real change and some new ideas is if George Galloway is elected. If Mr Galloway were an MP, he would be an ally of Pro UK Scots even if some of us disagreed with him about some of his policies. It is unlikely that one MP would be able to create socialism in Britain, but he might just bring some useful new thinking about the problems of capitalism. Even free marketeers like me would like to hear these ideas.

Mr Galloway will not take any votes from the Conservatives. His appeal is to Labour voters. His continual and long-term support of Asian people may prove attractive to people of Pakistani and Indian origin in Batley. An articulate Galloway is more likely to bring their concerns to the attention of the Government than anyone else they might elect.

George Galloway was right about both wars in Iraq, while I was wrong as was Tony Blair and much of the British establishment. He is not afraid to speak his mind, which is the aspect of his character that appeals to me most, even when I disagree. Too many MPs are dull drones who haven’t got an original thought in their minds. Galloway is not that and never has been.

From a Conservative perspective the more votes the Workers Party of Britain gains, the more likely either it will win or the Conservatives will. The last thing Labour wants is someone who can attract Left-wing votes with an appeal to core Labour values rather than muddle and mush.

I have supported Alliance for Unity (All for Unity) for the past year. It didn’t do as well as we hoped, but allies should still support each other. So, I wish Mr Galloway well in Batley and Spen and will follow the result closely. It would be a great result for all Pro UK Scots if Mr Galloway were elected. It would help our argument far more than if either the Labour or Conservative candidate wins.