Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Something is rotten in the state of Cymru

For the benefit of the Welsh Diaspora who may not know it, elections to the Welsh Assembly take place tomorrow. All the indicators suggest that the vast majority of the Welsh electorate will deliver an unequivocal vote of no confidence in the Assembly by not voting.

Whoever claims victory tomorrow night will be a liar. This will not be a victory; it will be a disaster for democracy. The politicians will choose to represent it as mere voter apathy; under Labour, their argument goes, the economy is booming, obviously. People who have never had it so good feel little compulsion to vote because they’re content.

I maintain that the reality is rather different. Some people may indeed have more money in their Gucci handbags but even they know that something is very wrong with our society and its value systems.

Buying something new and shiny may bring momentary happiness. It may also make the stress of modern life seem worthwhile - for a while - but just like smoking a cigarette brings relief from the nicotine addiction for a only matter of minutes, the pleasure soon wears off. Reality is a credit card bill, an unmanageable mortgage, poor education and inadequate healthcare, overflowing prisons, antisocial behaviour, global warming and a state of perpetual war with Islam.

The majority of the electorate know, to varying degrees of certainty that things have to change. Yet they are powerless to effect any real change themselves and the electoral system imposed upon them by politicians intent only on perpetuating their own interests, offers no opportunity for change. That’s why most people in Wales won’t vote tomorrow. It’s been made a pointless exercise.

There is no substance to the elections, just negative propaganda and gerrymandering. The political parties need not concern themselves with democratic legitimacy since the system within which they operate has been constructed to maintain the status quo.

They have discovered that all they need to do is buy off one section of the electorate while ensuring that we all live in fear, and the English-centric media is a willing collaborator in this deception since nothing sells media better than fear.

So, we have no means to change what we know needs changing. Does that mean we’re stuffed? I don’t think so. I’m going to start by voting for an independent tomorrow.

For the future, I have started, with others who want change, to formulate an alternative political proposal. I maintain that the sole purpose of the Assembly should be to secure and improve the lives of the people it represents.

Westminster is a level of government we don’t need. All available evidence suggests it would be impossible to effect real change in Wales with the conflicting interests of England weighing down upon us. For one thing, the Labour party can’t cling to power in Westminster without Wales because England is a deeply Conservative country, despite Labour’s ‘economic miracle’.

Wales is a small place. There are less than 3 million of us. Small countries with small populations are more manageable and so tend to have a higher standard of living and a better quality of life. Look at the Scandinavian countries, for example. There is no reason why we can’t strive for those fundamental values in Wales. Let’s have a plan ready for the next election.

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Aran said...

Would like to post this on the MySpace discussion, but don't have an account yet (yes, will do at some point, time time time!) - maybe you could copy&paste it over?

An interesting, positive and lively discussion - good to see.

The wide variety of ideas raised shows what a complex issue this can be, which is a very large part of why the current system gets away with it. Even for people who know or sense that the system isn't working, there are too many different directions in which to pull.

I'd like to make one suggestion. I believe we need to be thinking principally in terms of communities. How does your village work? How does your part of town work?

The fundamental problem with much of modern government is that it thinks in terms of running a country. This leads inevitably to some areas becoming disadvantaged, as the financial incentives of centralisation over-ride the kind of concerns that have been voiced above.

We need to be able to make our communities work - if we crack that, everything else follows.


Sorry - I said just one suggestion, but here's another:

If you start thinking in community terms, it pushes you to challenge some of the 'false truths'. Why are some communities 'poor'? Why can some not afford doctors and teachers?

Because we have a payment system based on scarcity. Money has to be scarce to have value.

But is that payment system the only way to define wealth? Why can't we do what communities in Wales have done many, many times previously - work together as a community to provide housing for doctors, nurses, teachers? It worked for religion... and, in fact, why can't those old chapels be used to provide top quality housing for the professionals we need in our communities?


Looking at it from a community angle also gets you asking some important questions about the nature of democracy - are political parties inherently undemocratic? But that's for another day...:-)

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