Ugh! Horrid awakening this morning to find out that our worst fears have been realised and UKIP have won substantial slices of yummy electoral cake. I’m sure 90% of it is a protest vote which won’t translate into winning at a general election but it’s not good all the same.
On the other hand, considering that Left Unity have only been going officially since November, they did pretty well where they stood. They got nearly 9% in Wigan and 3-4% of the vote in other places. That’s not bad for a party barely six months old.
But what really drives me crazy is apathy: the people who declare, often proudly, that they ‘can’t be bothered to vote’ or that they ‘aren’t going to vote because they’re all the same.’ The point is, whether or not politicians are all the same, or all out for themselves (and I don’t believe they all are) they are going to make decisions which will affect your life. Like Sartre said, whether or not you concern yourself with politics, ‘la politique, elle, s’occupe de vous’ – politics concerns itself with you. *
He’s right. Politicians will make decisions in your name whether or not you vote for them. And the one hold we have over them is the fact that if we don’t like them, they’re history. Thatcher made the mistake of thinking she could do whatever she liked: she pushed through the poll tax, and she paid the price.
It’s all we have – and it’s not negligible. Consider countries where people can’t elect their leaders – or, more importantly, get rid of them. Think about what kind of society we’d have then.** And then consider what others went through so that we could vote. This is particularly significant for me as a woman, and I often think about what the suffragettes suffered, just so that I could put that cross on a piece of paper.
And as for saying ‘my vote doesn’t count’ – what if everyone said that? What if everyone said, for example, ‘my money doesn’t count’ when they’re thinking of giving to charity or, say, buying fair trade goods? History has been changed by such actions. Journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, as they say – and frankly, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.
Bit of a rant today, I’m afraid – but if there’s one thing I would like to stamp out, it’s apathy and cynicism.
Hang on. If there are two things I would like to stamp out, they are apathy and cynicism. And greed.
The three things….
We could do this all day.
*I’m sure he said that – I quoted it in a number of essays, but I can’t find a reference to it.
**Although what concerns me more now is the selling off of public concerns and the amount of power global corporations have.