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Thursday, 6 May 2010

On Democracy

Democracy is when "everyone in the whole country (except women of course. And children.. And criminals. And slaves. And stupid people. And people of foreign extraction. But everyone apart from them.) can say who the new tyrant is" Quoted freely from Terry Pratchett, Pyramids.

Today are general elections in the UK and whilst I'm not entitled to vote in that election, nor any other national election for that matter, I have taken an interest in the political scene of that country, if only because my time in the UK constituted the most politically active time of my life. I am a founding member of a political party there, which I believe is still active and even has a member of parliament in the Northern Irish Assembly these days. I wouldn't do this again though, as I am totally disillusioned with any existing political system, and I wouldn't even vote was I given a vote.

You can see that the fact that despite half a life time of dutyfully doing my bit and paying my taxes (trying to avoid the latter these days) I am still not entitled to have my say, would have something to do with this, and sure that's true. But even if I could vote, there's no one out there who even remotely represents my point of view.

For the first time ever, the leaders of the 3 main parties in the UK engaged in live TV debates. I watched one of them. They were at pains to point out the differences between them, but in reality you couldn't fit a cigarette paper between them. All would carry on the war in Afghanistan, all promised to lead Britain out of the recession and back to economic growth, all said they'd be tough on imigration while at the same time trying not to alienate imigrants, all promised to reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses to unrealistic targets, while still trying to grow the economy and the list goes on.

I did some rough figures on the previous national election in the UK. If you take the entire population of the United Kingdom, minus the people who weren't entitled to vote, minus the people who did not vote, minus the people who did not vote for the government, you come to a figure of about 12% who actually voted for Tony Blair (not to mention Nobody voting for Gordon Brown...). Now after 12% voted for Labour, they can then proceed and pretty much do as they please for 5 years with or without the consent of any of the electorate.

Shortly before the invasion of Iraq we attended a demonstration with give or take ONE MILLION people attending to urge the government not to get involved. Given the fact that not everyone who may have wanted to join this demonstration could make it to London that day, and many more would have been broadly in support of the demonstration, but wouldn't come for other reasons, i.e. let's say only one in seven people who were against the Iraq war, took to the streets, that is the same number as voted for the government. This is democracy I ask you, my friends?

The Liberals are for electoral reform. They want a system of proportional representation, which would favour their position no doubt. However, if there is still no actual party our there representing YOUR views, what difference does it make. Parties have a party whip, someone who tells them how to vote in parliament. They shoukl vote for what their constituents want, surely.

Anarchie does work. A small village in Italy, like the one we live in is a perfect example. We don't see the police in our village much, nor other figures of authority. Everyone does their bit to avoid paying taxes to some remote power and differences amongst neighbours are settled within the community. It helps that there is no great rich poor divide within the community, so everyone's in the samew boat and people help each other where they can without resorting to any authorities. There's no elected body within the community, but respected members of it, who organise social and cultural events and help each other out. Of course the system isn't perfect, people aren't perfect and it only works because dodge the actual authorities that do exist, but it works. People here of course wouldn't call it anarchie either, but that is what in effect it is.

So why vote to decide who your tyrant is going to be for the next year, for them to tell you more about unsustainable economic growth in the future until this planet bursts. I'm with Terry Pratchett on that. I wonder if he's going to vote?

Sorry for the off-topic rant. Just a quick up-date: Our party last weekend was great and photos are to follow. However, since then it hasn't stopped raining. (What is happening to the weather? Last year we had the hottest May on record and now it's raining for days and it's forecast to continue.)


Jan said...

How about a democracy where expat would-be voters can actually receive their ballot papers in time to vote?

Heiko said...

Jan, I reckon legal expats should be allowed to vote in their country of residence. This is where the decisions that are most likely to affect you are made.

Jan said...

I agree with you Heiko, but we have property in the UK and pay tax so it should be made easier to vote there.

chaiselongue said...

I agree with you about democracy, Heiko, and the public demonstration of opposition to the Iraq war - I couldn't get to London, but I was on a demo against it in west Wales instead, and I'm sure lots of people were similarly involved. For most of my adult life I thought I was a socialist (nothing to do with the Labour Party, of course!), but lately I've been calling myself an anarchist, which shocks people who associate the word with violence, but I believe that we need smaller units, as you say. Even so I can't give up voting. I have an ex-pat vote in this election (although I wish I could vote where I live) and I have asked a proxy voter to vote for me, for Plaid Cymru (our MP was one of those who tried to impeach Blair), the nearest to a local representation we had when we lived in Wales and a pro-European Union party, which is important for us ex-pats as anti-Europeans could make life difficult for us.

There, that's my rant! And it's cold and wet here too....

Mr. H. said...

I enjoyed hearing your perspective on politics. The way you all live your life in the village is as it should be.

I look forward to hearing more about your party and if it makes you feel any better it has been cold and rainy here as well.

Have a really nice day Heiko.

Heiko said...

Interesting comments. I knew I wasn't the only anarchist out there. People need to feel involved in decisions about their communities again, it would solve an awful lot of problems!

Angela said...

I heard that Terry P. is developing Alzheimer`s - maybe not a bad way out, for oneself. You are right about Politicians, bleah bleah and bleah! And I like small villages best, too, even in big cities. There is always a neighbourhood of a street, or a quarter where people know each other. Does any politician know ME? NO!!!