Friday, 15 May 2009

Do NOT listen to Radio 5 Live

when the public is all in a tizzy about something as easily accessible to thoughtless venting as these MPs' expenses 'crisis'. (Yes, bad, but there are Bigger, SCARIER Problems out there people. Focus. Focus.) I heard a phone-in on for 10 minutes this morning. A selection of thoughts expressed:

'I can't trust any of them. I'm going to spoil my ballot.'

'I was going to vote but now I just don't fancy it.'

'I'm not a BNP supporter, but at least if they got some votes it would make the other parties take notice.'

'I want to vote for "None of the Above"! [Followed by some long complaint about the injustice of not being able to register "None of the Above" on a ballot paper. Oh, the inhumanity.]'
'I was going to vote Tory, you know, because I thought I would give it a go. But now, I'm not voting for any of them.'

What all this really reveals is:

a) radio phone-ins are inundated with ill-informed, knee-jerk reactions by no-nothing, never-thinks who are convinced that they are omniscient. (But we knew that already, of course. Once again: They might not know anything, but I bet they reckon something.)

a) sub-section 2) I'm an idiot for listening to it for any longer than it takes to extend a finger to the 'Off' switch. OR I like to wallow in the stupidity of others. But we knew that already, of course.

b) this all shows again a serious, fundamental problem with the very notion of 'democracy' -- people do not think before they vote. 'I don't fancy it.' 'I thought I'd give it a go.' Seriously? A couple of the more articulate callers actually suggested that this election -- implying, therefore, a paradigm shift in their practices at previous elections -- that they might have to give a long, hard think of who to vote for. Really?!? You think it's worth it? Normally you what? Go on who's name sounds the 'happiest'? Consult a spirit-medium, to see who your dead ancestors reckon will best steer the economy to higher GDP?

This is still not the post I thought I should have written earlier this week, when I realised I should have been ranting less and instead saying something more profound about the relationship between our corrupt, duplicitous elected officials our corrupt, impotent media, but it's a push in the right direction. So, Ok, sparing you all the 'your vote is a privilege' shit, and assuming someone other than my three regular readers find themselves on this page, it's like this:

Democracy only works if there is an informed electorate, making choices in the interests of themselves and the wider community. IF Labour or the Conservatives demonstrate that they are too indifferent to corruption and the voices of you, the electorate, there are other parties, other independents, who, you might learn with a little reading, do not intend to take advantge of their office for personal again. AND, if you are not receiving the information you need on your country, county or city to make an informed choice on who might best represent your interest , there are other media outlets, other sources of information out there. Get off your ass and have a look.

AND, if you are really unhappy with your electoral power, or lack thereof, there are alternative systems out there, some of which are even explicitly endorsed in the manifestos of main stream political parties (Lib Dems, Green). Again, get off your ignorant ass and learn something about how your government works, and why it doesn't.

Useless sermon to the converted, I know. But I feel better having got that out there. As ever.

[I spared the LIb Dems a little there, and may have come dangerously close to endorsing them, so let me just be clear that no, I'm not, really, though they would be a lot better than the Tories if you're looking for an anti-Labour vote. But mostly it's because I'm used to supporting a third party -- the NDP back home -- and though I would like to see the electorate swing more dramatically left, I have to repeat now what I usually say at every Canadian election when people whine 'they're all the same', 'it doesn't matter who gets in': People, there is a third party who, with only a relatively small shift in the popular vote, could conceiveable take a first shot at government. Maybe give them a chance first. Then complain 'they're just like the rest.' It's really not that hard.]

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