The results of local council elections in England and Wales proved a great disappointment for the ruling Labour party, in fact they were their worst results for over 40 years, pushing the party into third place behind the Conservatives and Liberals. Labour's policies have been unpopular for a long time, and as they have been in power for over a decade the blame cannot be laid at anybody else's doorstep. Effectively, Britain now has a minority government, a government that does not represent the will of the people, which is supported by very few people amongst the electorate, but which is nonetheless able to drive through unpopular policies due to an overwhelming majority in parliament.
Political commentators have mainly focused on whether Labour's election losses mean that the Conservatives stand a chance of winning the next general election. Nobody seems to bother that these elections are proof positive that parliamentary democracy is not working as a means of expressing the will of the people. The people of Britain have had a minority government for a long time, not only did the government take power on the basis of substantially less than half the votes cast, but considering that only just over a third of the eligible population actually went to the ballot box, only one fifth to one quarter of the country ever supported the government they got. The reason so few people exercise their vote is not that they couldn't care less who governs them, but that they understand only too well that there is no real alternative on offer. Whoever gets elected will carry through the same unpopular policies dictated by the banks and large corporations. If people were permitted to place a vote of no confidence in a serving politician or to decide on policy issues, the turnout would increase immensely. This is why governments stay clear of referendums, knowing all too well that their policies are out of tune with the electorate.
What is needed is a wholesale review of the role of government. Government used to be the servant of the people, but its function now has become to manage the people on behalf of vested interests. The "Nanny state", as it was labelled when Labour first came to power, interferes in every minute detail of its citizens' lives to the degree that many have begun comparing modern Britain to the former East European states. New Labour never abandoned "socialism", they simply got rid of its caring and social pretensions.
It would not be far-fetched to claim that increasing security legislation, whilst purporting to combat an alleged ever-present terror threat, is actually designed to put in place means to control an increasingly dissatisfied population who are finding it more and more difficult to cope under the high-tax, low-yield economic climate threatening to destroy their livelihoods. As the 19th century history Lord Acton put it: "The issue which has swept down the centuries and which will have to be fought sooner or later is the people versus the banks". Today's governments are brought to and kept in power in order to prevent, or at least, delay this battle from being fought. The will of the people has been reduced to "one man one vote" but without a say in the affairs of state - or even his own affairs most of the time. The latest election results clearly show "democracy at work".