It’s OK ladies and gentlemen, do not adjust your set, David Cameron is addressing the nation in a Party Political Broadcast. He’s laying out the “facts” with a “vox pop” in a tastefully styled advert for keeping his party in power.
“In power” – reason one why I wouldn’t bother to vote next time the Parliamentary elections strike. As Jafar says to Aladdin in the Disney movie, “You’ve heard of the Golden Rule, haven’t you? Whoever has the Gold makes the rules!” I’m suspicious of their motives. It looks very much like they want the power to change things for the better. But maybe less for the change and more for the power itself. Apparently we pay less in tax, have a deficit reduced by 25% and so on and so on. That’s nice, but what’s described and what I see day to day don’t seem to tally. I’m sure the rich are still rich and possibly getting richer. Should I be glad that everybody else is faring better now, even if I’m not? Am I a statistical outlier? It’s not impossible. It’s also not enough to convince me to walk into the polling station.
Reason two is: purely and simply I don’t find the current
brood rash fraternity of politicians convincing. Every time I meet one in real life they’re guarded or appear focused elsewhere and possessed of false humour. It’s as though being a politician is an effort to be all things to all people even at the cost of genuine connection with the people themselves. “Vox pop” (see opening para.) is supposed to be the voice of the people. If the people in David Cameron’s advert were regular people, I’d be surprised. Their comments seemed scripted and more tellingly not one of them was standing in the freezing rain with a small child or dog either pulling at their hand or doing something embarrassing in the background. Another nail in the coffin of my credulity.
The third and final reason I don’t want to vote really is that the same candidate has held my constituency seat since 1979. Since before I was born, although I wasn’t actually born here, he’s been representing this neck of the woods. Even in 1997 he (Tory) held more than 45% of the vote against a Labour landslide nationally. In the near future our constituency may be dissolved and wards moved into neighbouring constituencies, but that or the retirement of the incumbent are the only realistic prospects I can see for any kind of change. As we are often told in late night election specials, for many constituencies nothing much changes and the balance of power rests only with those constituencies which have a propensity for changing political hue from one election to the next. Why should I vote if nothing will change where I am? My vote won’t change things here, so the balance of Parliament will be no different for it.
But I will.
I am a subject of Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of Her other Realms and Territories, Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.
Since it has pleased my Queen and her predecessors to enact laws arranging the election of representatives to Parliament to do the business of running her country, I’m certain to do just that. It’s a duty of citizenship to engage and involve myself in this way. I may think the system corrupt and slow to change; lacking in credibility and accountability; self perpetuating and expensive; subject to financial nudging and even the Golden Rule. Until I’m told to elect my MP a different way, I’ll carry on doing as I should. No other system seems much better, and there are plenty worse. Maybe one day we will all decide it’s time to vote and we’ll vote with one mind… and who knows what could happen?