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. Below is an election address of an aspiring politician who really wants to be honest.
I come before you as a candidate of the Believe-me 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.”
Another such truthful election address would go something like this:
This is a party political broadcast by the leader of the Trust-me Party. I stand upright before you in all honesty to seek your vote so that I may have a nice little earner in office.
I am in many ways just like you – I have the same two eyes, ears and other dimensions. It is true that I possess many times the average wealth, but I am poorer than my unprincipled shape-shifting rival in the Make-Believe Party, David Chameleon. The world will be a better place for having me in charge instead of him, although it really doesn’t make much difference because the system runs us rather than the other way round.
We in the Trust-me Party are delighted to offer you a set of policies that have been carefully calculated to cost a just little less than an arm and a leg. On jobs, health, housing, education, transport, pensions, electric toothbrushes, cat-flaps we promise anything you wish. We know you have a choice and we are determined not to be beaten on promises but to be fair there is not a lot to choose between us apart from the colour of our ties. Their leader, like myself, is an ambitious, power-hungry, plausible, unscrupulous fellow. In this election there is also the Ad-Libbers who say comforting things and the Less-Respect Party that stands for no fundamental change. We also have the very fishy stand-alone Believe-Me Party from Scotland and, of course, the local lads made good the We-First Party
However, I do have to warn you about one political party that could threaten our whole way of life - The Socialist Party which advocates the abolition of our jobs-for-life. I’m sure there’s no need to tell you how disastrous this would be not just for you but also for me, my family, and all my share-holder friends in UK Ltd.”