Sunday, May 02, 2010

We've Been Asked To Speak Politics To You Today

I'm sure From The North's overseas readers will allow us a moment of somewhat parochial reflections at this point. Y'see, this week we've got a general election after five of what can honestly be described as the most turbulent, divisive and unhappy years in British politics in a good two decades, and maybe beyond. Now, as regular readers of this blog will know, there's no one who has been as critical of politicians and their actions and cynical about their motives as I have over the period - All Politicians Are Scum and all that. The irony is that until relatively recently I was pretty politically active and, certainly, liked to think of myself as a reasonably uncyncial sort of chap when it came to the political process. I've always been a Labour party supporter since I was eighteen. I've voted for the current government three times and, to be honest, I'll probably vote for them again on Thursday. Because I'm not sure I like either of the alternatives any better. But I'll be doing it with a very heavy heart, frankly because, for once, it will definitely be a case of the devil you know over the devil you don't know.I've never had a problem with the Liberals, per se, and they're probably closer to my views on a number of social issues than either of the other two parties. And, they've got the single most impressive politician currently active on the hustings in Vince Cable. Clegg seems all right too in a sort of 'Tim, Nice But Dim' way. But ... I dunno, there's always something about the Liberals that screams to you 'don't do it, they'll tax you to the eyeballs and making not eating humus and buying soups in tins rather than cartons a criminal offence.' Surprisingly, I'm not as anti-Tory as I once was either. I have something of a soft spot for the paternalistic One Nation Tories - the Supermacs and Ted Heaths of this world. Wouldn't vote for them, necessarily, but they weren't as bad as ... well, Thatcher, essentially. That's the point at which 'being tolerant' comes to an abrupt halt. Thing is, though, Cameron puts himself across as this kind of Free-Market-Blairite-With-A-Conscience geezer which, hell, it may well be true. But, seemingly, people just do not trust him. If this was any other election after the five years we've had under a seemingly incompetent and possibly morally bankrupt government who have led us into a potentially illegal war and then overseen the ruining of an entire economy, the main opposition party would be fifty per cent ahead in the polls. The fact that here we are a few days out and people are still talking about the potential for a hung parliament - or, maybe a very small Conservative majority - suggests, to me at any rate, that many people would quite like a change but not THIS change. The surge in support for the Liberals after the first TV debate was the most obvious evidence of this.

However, and this is a big however, I would urge every reader of this blog who is old enough and registered to get themselves down to their local polling station on Thursday and cast their vote for someone. Not the BNP, obviously, but someone. Because this is too important a subject to leave to everyone else, frankly. Plus, if you abdicate responsibility during a process then I'm afraid you have absolutely no moral right to complain about the outcome or the aftermath. 'I don't like any of 'em, so I'm not going to vote for any of 'em' is a valid stance, but only as far as the election in-and-of itself is concerned. Once it's over your protest, or apathy, or sense of natural disdain, has been registered. From that moment onwards anything that the government or the opposition do or say is nothing to do with you since you didn't take part in the process that elected and/or rejected them and their policies. That's the price of democracy. Like the man said, 'decisions are made by those who show up.' It might be a shitty system but, unless you prefer we have a crack at some form of dictatorship for a while then it's the best one we've got at this juncture.

I loathe the vast majority of politicians - with a passion - but I'm not blind to the realities of the situation. This - who, effectively, tells me what to do for the next five years - is far too important a subject to 'leave to other people.' So what I'll do come Thursday is to think about the two or three issues that are most important to me (one of which, you'll not be surprised to learn is the potential future of the BBC and broadcasting in general), sit down with the manifestos and find the party which most closest represents what I want to see. And, then I'll vote accordingly. I would encourage everyone reading this blog to do the same, no matter which party that is and what the issues are. If your primary interest is education, then find out which party most closely matches your priorities. Same with health. Same with crime. Et cetera. I take very seriously the sacrifices that many men and woman have made over the years to give me the right to vote in the first place - because, there are many places in the world where that right is not a given. Look at it this way, at least we only get a bunch of tripe party political broadcasts once every four or five years this way. It could be so much worse.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Very good piece, Keith. I quite agree with the "those who show up" argument. It's exactly what I want to be able to say to people, but now I don't have to. I shall quote you instead.