Do they? I think not. This is not a question any political leader is likely to ask themselves, unless they are exceptionally sensitive and thoughtful. Yet disturbing numbers of voters are asking themselves, ‘Is it Worth Voting?’ and according to recent estimates around a million people may not even be registered to vote.
I sympathise: really I do. I sometimes wonder myself whether it’s worth it. Yet come polling day I heave my arse out of bed and get it down to the the polling station and put my pathetic cross against the figure I believe is least likely to do harm. I think politicians should be made to take something similar to the Hippocratic Oath, to say that they will ‘first, do no harm’. Not that doctors necessarily stick to this – but that’s another subject.
It’s fashionable – and completely understandable, in the wake of recent corruption scandals, austerity measures, cosying up to banks, privatisation measures etc etc – to think that all politicians are after feathering their own nests. There are terrible tendencies in our parliamentary system: tendencies which favour men over women, white over black or Asian, public-school educated over state educated, and so on. The House needs huge reform to bring it up to date; and some family-friendly practices wouldn’t go amiss either, as has been shown in the new BBC series, Inside the Commons:
Still, it’s an advance on the days when we were only to be found in the typing-pool or behind the tea-trolley like Gladys, a character featured on the programme. She’s a cheery soul who sings in the corridors of power and opens up at 7 am. But I demand to know how much Gladys is paid. And does she get a taxi laid on to fetch her for work so she can open up? I suspect not.
Anyway, to return to my original point: the thing is, politics doesn’t just go away when you don’t vote. They are making decisions every day which may and will affect you, your work and neighbourhood, your rights and freedoms. As Jean-Paul Sartre put it: ‘Even if you don’t concern yourself with politics, politics concerns itself with you.’
The more people become disaffected, the more they’re going to get away with it. We must get involved: demand a better system and work to change the present one. Because no government, ever, asked themselves: ‘Is it worth governing?’
That’s all for now, so until next time:
I’m liking this Charlie Brooker sign-off!