Apathy really is the enemy. And as the UK election looms, I find myself becoming more and more outraged at the number of people who ‘don’t vote’ because they ‘just can’t be bothered’. For me, this really is unacceptable. Tonight, a BBC journalist was interviewing voters in the Pennines. Cue young mother with child. ‘Oh’ she said, ‘I don’t vote…’ Well, I’m sorry missus, but why did you get permission to breed! If that sounds strong, it’s meant to be. If you choose to be a parent, you owe your children a future. For me, that means you exercise your right to be a citizen – you vote! Because if you don’t, you will get the politicians you deserve. And frankly, if you haven’t voted then you have no right to complain when they claim your first born as cannon fodder for another illegal war or declare your left-handed children second class citizens and send them to live in a ghetto. If you think that is far fetched, just read an account of the Holocaust.
In the UK we really are spoilt by democracy (OK, you could debate ‘democracy’ as a term, but for now lets assume it’s the norm here). Basically you can vote across the spectrum from Green to BNP and all creeds in between, which can’t be too shabby. Still, I think it has lulled us into a false sense of security. It’s not the same in other countries. Saudi Arabia don’t have elections. In Burma, they held elections in 1990 – the first elections since 1960 – a gap of 30 years in which the military junta had ruled and still do. The point is, we are privileged to be able to make a mark on a piece of ballot paper and make history by shaping governments.
I come from a country where the majority of people were denied a vote until very recently, so are wildly excited when there is an election. And why not? Politics influences everything from health policy to pensions. It is deeply important! I contrast this with the cynical view that many Brits take about politics – OK, so the expenses scandal has discredited government as a whole – but that makes it even more important to vote for fresh thinking and new blood. If you want change, it’s vital to exercise your democratic right to make that change.
There is a part of me that thinks we should make voting compulsory in the UK, the way it is in Australia. I know, that sounds un-democratic, but there is a rider. If you think all political parties who are standing are just rubbish, I do support the notion that individuals can ‘opt out’ or deem their ballot ‘spoiled’ – but I think they should be compelled to do so. In the UK, it’s not just who forms the next government that is pivotal. Without a decisive victory for either Labour or the Conservatives, we really are in danger of losing our AAA credit rating – a hung parliament (which cannot be ruled out) would be an economic as well as social disaster for Britain. With a massive deficit from bailing out the banks, this is something we really cannot afford. It’s not too late – if you haven’t yet registered to vote, you can do it online. JFDI!!
So, now we know what desperation feels like. Our foul government (foul, because they have turned our country into a sewer) clinging to office like a mistress embracing a dying lover.
I’m not sure who I detest more. Our Prime Minister (un-elected, lets just remind ourselves) or his party of lunatics. Peter Mandelson, who with each passing trade machination resembles Iago more closely. John Prescott, who is beginning to look like a rather large Cumberland sausage or Alistair Darling whose ‘safe pair of hands’ has cost taxpayers a £75.2bn deficit, one my generation will struggle to pay back within the next decade or three…
Frankly, the country has gone to the dogs. The total government debt is equivalent to 49% of gross domestic product. Britain has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe and a Child Poverty level which exceeds that of some third world countries. On a daily basis Gordon and his cronies, these self-styled ‘guardians of the nation’s moral compass’ reveal their utter contempt for the voters who brought them to power in the first instance. If it’s not the expenses scandal – which discredits politics as a whole – it’s the own goal of going on television and crying in front of the nation to get votes. Man up, Gordo…everyone knows we don’t do PDA!
So far, Labour have refused to fix a date for the election. Legally these moribund men are compelled to do so within the next few months, but they are dragging it out to the last possible minute. ‘Can’t peak too early’, they say… ‘Hurry up and finish’…I say. Presumeably they want the experience to last, so they can chuck another few ill-conceived policies our way and really cock it up for the party that will inevitably succeed them. Unfortunately for the Government, electoral viagra hasn’t been invented yet.
As for me, I’m going to use the only preventative measure I can in this instance- my vote!
I am so enraged by the public inquiry into the legitimacy of the Iraq invasion. Yes, you heard me right when I said invasion. When you cross the borders of another sovereign state bearing arms it’s usually consistent with an act of hostility. Especially since the rationale for the persistent and senseless killing of our soldiers turns out to be WMD with special properties – dangerous arms that also have the capability of evaporating into thin air – perhaps we’ll call them Weapons of Mass Disappearance, shall we?
At UK taxpayers expense (we don’t yet know how much as our govt is keeping this under wraps until the final report is published) Sir John Chilcot is conducting a ‘public’ inquiry. To establish whether a war that has cost UK taxpayers an estimated £7 billion, left the families and friends of 176 British soldiers grieving, and killed an estimated 95,158 Iraqi civilians – was legally justified. Iraq continues to be the non-state terrorism capital of the world, suffering more deaths from such attacks than any other country. And the UK continues to be a more dangerous place thanks to the actions of Blair and Bush.
All this is bad enough, but what has really made me very angry, is that on Friday, Tony Blair took the stand – not to apologise, or even show one shred of remorse for the people who have died as a result of this conflict. No, instead he was there to tell – in that faux sincere voice which makes me want to slap him – to tell, the inquiry panel how he was absolutely justified in going to war – thereby ignoring a UN resolution and acting against the advice of the finest legal minds in the UK.
Blair and Bin Laden share common ground. Both have ambitions to leave a world legacy. Blair wants the ‘Faith Foundation’ to be how he will be remembered, no doubt Bin Laden’s aspirations stretch in a similar religious direction. They are dangerous men. What makes them so is not that they have blood on their hands. Or even that they feel no remorse for their actions. They are dangerous because of the shared conviction they have God on their side.