If you think it makes no difference why vote? The General Election and a little tale from Bristol
Not long ago comedian Russell Brand was voted fourth on a list of the world’s great thinkers – or something similar. Possibly, God help us, it was a list of “thought-leaders”.
One of his great thoughts is that people should not vote. I should applaud this as though I’ve worked for both Labour and the Tories I have never, ever voted. But I do feel a bit guilty. If you don’t vote you can’t hope to change things, can you?
But why have I never voted? Why are fewer and fewer doing so?
In my case it’s because where I lived there was never a candidate I liked the sound of. In 2009 the Daily Telegraph ran a piece on honest politicians. It was quite short. Almost all politicians seem utter shits – little more than adroit liars intent getting power and keeping it.
The current government swore to sort out the economy and among other things dear to my heart get rid of the hordes of useless and costly committees – quangos – staffed by the cronies of whoever is in power.
Today our national debt has shot up but few realise it because politicians deliberately obscure the truth. When they speak of reducing the deficit most of us think that means reducing the national debt. It doesn’t. It just means slowing the speed at which the debt grows.
And what do ALL the parties now promise? To spend more, making the debt greater. Some – the Greens and the SNP – would spend insanely more. Labour, stupidly more. The Tories vow they will make savings that cover the cost – but they lied last time, so why not now?
And the quangos? Many were just renamed, often with their parasitical crews given pay rises.
That’s how politics works. Politicians pile up misery for future generations when they won’t be here. As the neat American phrase goes, they kick the can a bit further down the road.
At a local level, though, things are even simpler – maybe because an even lower percentage of people vote than in national elections. They fuck you about and when you c0mplain they treat you with contempt.
Take Bristol, where I live. We have a mayor called Ferguson. His chief qualification seems to be that he always wears red trousers. This minor act of individuality, however silly, singles him out as less dreary than the others. His other chief characteristic is simple. He completely ignores what voters want.
New parking proposals have been forward by the council recently. A great many people – probably the majority – object to them, partly because they are really just a new form of tax, partly because they are ill-conceived in some ways, and partly because there are few benefits we can see. I understand over 90% of the council itself voted against them.
In my road many were really interested and concerned. We got involved. We held meetings, canvassed opinion, raised detailed objections, and gave reasons why we objected.
The response from the man in charge – Service Director Peter Mann – was simple. He was insulting.
He sent a one page letter saying he had “considered” the matter, and decided the scheme will go ahead with “some minor modifications” which he did not trouble to specify. This is because it will “achieve elements of the wider transport policy aspirations of the City Council’s overall transport policy”.
Nobody has the faintest idea what that means; and even if we did it is a nonsense. Our aspirations should be considered not those of the Council – which in any case has voted against the scheme.
Not a word, not a smidgeon, not a suggestion, not hint, not a clue did this bureaucratic jackanapes give as to the reasons for his decision.
No doubt this scheme will go ahead. And no doubt even fewer people will vote at the next local elections. Russell Brand’s may think this a good idea. But is it?