Thursday, 11 January 2007
Let’s vote for us instead of them.
The Bishop of St David’s and I fundamentally disagree on a metaphysical level. Since he’s unable to prove the existence of God, our diametrically opposed views are destined never to be reconciled, what with me being a fundamental atheist and he being a bishop of the Church in Wales.
Yet I found myself whole-heartedly agreeing with the crux of his Christmas message as reported by the Western Mail. (You wouldn’t catch me in a place of worship other than to marvel at man’s age-old struggle to make sense of his existence).
The Bishop’s premise was that the blame for our selfish, survival-of-the-fittest society lies firmly with our political leaders and I’ll pick that up and run with it.
“There’s no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families”. So said Margaret Thatcher, erroneously as it happens, to justify her advocacy of unrestrained, market-driven capitalism. That, it seems to me, is where our value systems began to rot.
An eighteenth century French jurist expressed the notion that “people get the government they deserve” and it’s amazing that a sophisticated society such as ours could have elected someone lacking even a basic grasp of sociology to high office.
What Thatcher began, Blair has largely continued. In a triumph of political manipulation over moral and ethical substance, New Labour has managed to hide its insidious advancement of personal and corporate greed behind a smoke screen of social responsibility.
What of the alternatives? The Tories are philosophically not trendsetters and it seems likely that David Cameron, far from being a new broom, is actually a shameless opportunist who’ll be looking for an opportunity to increase the gap between rich and poor still further as soon as he finds an angle to dupe people into electing him.
The Liberal Democrats seem to have disappeared on a political level and, in Wales at least, the Plaid is, well, the Plaid!
Politicians have built for us a society where only wealth can insulate us against an increasingly hostile environment; where profit is everything; where home is an investment; where the poor have no security and no mobility; where revenue-raising fines are used to ‘punish’ us for everything from putting the wrong rubbish in the wrong wheelie bin to paying our taxes late; where there is no service unless we pay for it through the nose; where there no one left to hear us scream apart from some other poor, exploited worker in a call centre in Bangalore.
Apathy towards politics is indicative of the failure of democracy and it comes as no surprise, surely, that according to the Electoral Commission, around 130,000 people across Wales are not currently registered to vote. People no longer have faith in politicians, so whom would they elect if they registered? None of the parties are campaigning on the basis of promising to make life happier and more fulfilling although, presumably, that’s all the disaffected and the disenfranchised really want?
I mentioned that Margaret Thatcher was wrong about society; by definition, two or more people in a co-operative relationship constitute a society, and a society defines the customs of a community and the way it is organised.
In my opinion, the only way to re-engage the majority in the political process is to de-centralise political power and begin to organise on a community level. For me, that means an independent Wales, federated within Europe.
Our politicians need to understand that they are elected to public office simply to improve the lives of the people they represent. If politicians take the lead in ensuring our society values compassion more than profit, then they’ll soon find it easier to get people out to vote.
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