I was considering going on the March for the Alternative tomorrow. I’m not planning to go for one simple reason: I can’t march for the alternative because I don’t have an alternative*.
I don’t have an alternative because I support the Government. When I voted last May I was voting for a smaller state, for devolution to local government, and for a cautious approach to the economy. I voted for a Government which would restore civil liberties, scrap the ID card scheme and create an elected House of Lords. Frankly, I was delighted to form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats.
I don’t have an alternative because I support the principle of spending cuts. I know that some people will be worse off with the cuts, and indeed, I’d include my future self among those who will lose out. An article in today’s Guardian tells one such story.
However, it’s worth saying that while I support the principle of cuts, I don’t necessarily support where those cuts are being made. I can support the vision without necessarily agreeing to every detail of the plan.
Furthermore, I respect those who do have an alternative. A healthy democracy thrives on peaceful, well-argued and carefully considered dissent. I start from a libertarian point of view, although my pragmatism sends me towards the TRG. Others start from a socialist, communitarian, collectivist position. That’s fine, although obviously I don’t agree with all of those people.
For those marching tomorrow, I say this: if you have a real alternative, if you genuinely think a mistake is being made, then march. But do something more on top of marching, such as putting together a real alternative and getting the opposition parties in local or central government to support it and push it forward. Saying “no” is unlikely change anything unless you also present a genuine alternative.
(* Of course, I could decide to march for the alternative vote instead. Now there’s an idea…)