It’s that time of year again. Where we rummage around for a polling card (I couldn’t find mine), toddle off to some musty smelling church, school or community hall, and show our disdain for those running our country by not voting for all bar one of them. Or perhaps none at all.
Quelle surprise, I have a cynical streak when it comes to politicians and politics. I’m not exactly alone in that. It seems that around 60 million others in Britain have the same levels of mistrust and unease of them as I do.
It’s a subject that always depresses me. It started decades ago. A friend of the family was, and still is, a sitting MP. When he was first voted in, way back in 1987, he promised to fight a government departmental decision to close local hospital services, and went on public marches.
He was then given a junior ministry post in the Department of Health. When the time came to oppose closures in parliament, predictably, he towed the party line. Whilst he remains a friend of the family, I’ve never voted for him since, though have for his party when other candidates stood.
My vote has changed throughout the years. My compass, though, is a depressingly simple one. It’s not cast on the basis of the party whose views most closely match mine. I instead vote for the ones who I believe will damage the country, or my home town, the least.
It makes me sad even thinking of it. I fully understand people deliberately abstaining if they feel the same as I do, that politicians harm the country, and a vote is for damage limitation rather than what is actually wanted.
It doesn’t help that the main parties have morphed into a media-friendly soundbite of froth, trying to mask what they’re up to with politically advised ice creams by the seaside, or chicken in a carefully choreographed ‘spontaneous’ evening out. Behind that, if nobody knows what you’re doing, then nobody knows what you’re doing wrong.
It’s especially true of local councils and their councillors. Do you know your local councillor? I certainly don’t. Next to nobody votes for them. Local issues are hardly on the agenda.
All council elections are is a nationwide opinion poll for parliament. The councillors voted in on the back of it are more or less unaccountable. Don’t make waves and enjoy the ride is the name of their game.
It’s definitely not something conducive to good mental health, UK politics. In recent times, there was uproar for sending troops into Iraq despite a million people feeling so strong against it they came out onto the streets to protest. The decision to over-ride public opinion and send some British troops, and a lot of Iraqi civilians, to their death, upsets me to this day.
The role the media play can’t be overestimated either. Gordon Brown, to my mind, was and is a decent man, but totally unsuited to the task of Prime Minister. The criticism he received, not just as a PM but also as a person, was disgusting.
It’s ironic that Brown is held in high regard by many outside the UK. They believe his actions in 2008, when the global economic meltdown was at its peak, saved jobs and livelihoods across the world when other nations followed the steps he took in Britain.
He had to go, in my view, as he seemed to be out of touch on so many issues, and lost the confidence of the public within a few short months of taking over. It’s quietly forgotten, however, that inflation, unemployment, and the national debt was lower in 2007 than 10 years before, when his party came to power. The global credit crunch of 2008 caused the recession, not the other way round.
Of course it was forgotten. The media had an agenda and were doing whatever it took to reach their goal. Including burying an inconvenient truth. The hostility knew no bounds in the papers, on the radio, and some tv news channels and shows. The criticism became more savage, more personal as time wore on. Nasty stuff.
Since 2010 we’ve been handed a government that nobody voted for, headed by a Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister who have never won an election – ironically a very loud criticism of David Cameron’s predecessor. Since then, the nasty stuff has come from the politicians themselves.
It’s been a case of the blame game. It seems to be the essential part of a politician’s armory, passing the buck, spinning to make out something gone wrong is someone else’s fault.
When blame hasn’t been given to the previous administration, the ire has been directed, disgustingly, at the victims of political folly and fall-out. Single mothers, unemployed, immigrants, anyone who don’t have a voice in mainstream media have been seen as fair game to hide governmental inadequacies.
It depresses me to even think about the mess parliament, local councils, and the European parliament seems to be in. Which isn’t surprising. In the past 3 or 4 years, with so much bickering and blaming between politicians, all in the media glare, it is bound to have a depressing effect on the very electorate who keep them in their jobs.
What is the solution? If I knew, I’d be on tv this very moment, or maybe on the hustings. Perhaps even in Number 10 Downing Street.
On seconds thoughts, no. Since I’ve given up lying about my life, and tried to take personal responsibilities for my own problems and situation I’m in, I’m clearly not suited for a career in politics.
And that is the most depressing thought of the lot.