In his recent spending review, George Osborne unveiled a further tranche of cuts to public spending. Two announcements specifically grabbed the headlines; the first was that the jobless are now expected to wait seven days before they are able to begin claiming benefits. The second was the requirement for some to attend English language classes before they are able to receive benefits, thought to affect at least 100,000 people.
Of course, the announcement of further cuts to public spending does not come as a surprise from a government which is intent on standing by its neoliberal agenda of mass privatisation and the cutting back of public spending. Though, what is truly shocking about the spending review is that these new cuts totalling £11.5 billion are guaranteed for the period 2015-16, in reality rendering the 2015 general election a pointless one. No matter who is elected into government, people will continue to face harsh economic realities. These cuts confirm the death of democracy in Britain.
Looking back, democracy now seems to be a distant memory. We have been ruled by a Tory-led government for just over three years despite their failure to secure a majority at the 2010 general election, and ever since they have hacked at all remaining remnants of people power.
The privatisation of our National Health System has already been achieved by the Conservatives. As is shown in a Mirror article from May 2013, over 100 NHS services across Britain are now run by Virgin. In total, over £7 billion in contracts have been handed over to private companies to run NHS services, with patients having absolutely no control over who is taking care of them.
In our schools, too, the wishes of parents and teachers have been ignored by Education Secretary Michael Gove, who has relentlessly pursued a complete overhaul of our education system. The case of Downhills primary school, which I attended as a child, springs to mind here. Despite a majority of parents and teachers opposing the forced academisation of their community school, they were ignored. Downhills was given the new and exciting name of Harris Primary Academy Philip Lane as Lord Harris of Peckham was chosen to run the school (which, it must be mentioned, is part of a chain of Harris schools).
Osborne's spending review is simply a continuation of the Conservatives' attack on democracy. The cries of the rising number of people now living in poverty go unheard as our millionaire government claim "we're all in this together".
Yet Labour is by no means a genuine alternative to the Conservative party. On 22 June, Ed Miliband announced that, if Labour were to triumph in the 2015 general election, they would not reverse the £11.5 billion in cuts recently announced by Osborne in the spending review.
The death of democracy in Britain is real. Miliband has confirmed that there is truly no alternative to austerity in the House of Commons. In fact, the entire shadow cabinet unashamedly accept that there is no alternative to austerity.
But there are many who do know that there is an alternative to austerity, it's just that none of these people are members of parliament. Now that the ruling class are suggesting that austerity is a necessity, it must be put to them that this is not a truth. There is a radical alternative to austerity, and this is where a revival of democracy will come from. Parliamentary politics has now become so centre-ground that it does not do what it is meant to do: represent. Democracy is by definition the rule of the people, yet this so-called British democracy is the rule of the elite.
So, yes, democracy is dead. George Osborne has shown this as he still refuses to listen to the thousands who are feeling the real effects of his hardline economic policy. Miliband has shown, too, that there is no alternative in parliament. A revival of democracy, however, can be achieved, but this can only come from the British people themselves.
Through direct action, protesting and organisation in the workplace, for example, people can demonstrate what kind of alternatives are available. The pain the government's cuts are causing cannot be ignored, and since neither the Conservatives, Labour, nor the Lib Dems are willing to represent these people, the people must represent themselves.