How has it come about that Johnny Rotten is advocating for participation and Russell Brand for revolution? Anyone looking at Russell knows that there is a hippy within. In our day the hippies were for love and peace and a wonderful world and the punks, Mr Rotten et all were all for revolution. The world is surely upside down.
We have working class people being fooled by the single issue politics of UKIP, while the Labour Party sits on the fence. We have the LibDems falling out with the Tories, who knew they wouldn’t get along? In the middle are people just like me. People who believe in fairness, in equality and in justice. People who are not afraid to embrace other cultures, who welcome immigrants to our country and who have always trusted in the system. No more trust. From Scottish devolution to Mayors for the North (as if it is another world beyond Watford) things are going from bad to worse.
I have always believed in the political system even though I know there is much wrong with the way we go about it. The first passed the post system used in the UK fails to deliver the government most people want, time after time, but at least it is a democratic system and should allow everyone to have their say. As a woman I understand how important it is to use my vote, I know my history and know that women before me fought long and hard for me to enter the ballot box. However the same is true for working class man. They too were disenfranchised and at one time the vote was only extended to those with power and money. I think we forget this at our peril.
History tells us that in 1867 the Conservative government introduced the Parliamentary Reform Act which increased the electorate to almost 2.5 million. The Conservative leader, Benjamin Disraeli, persuaded his supporters that the English working man would make limited demands on politicians – keep him housed, fed and clothed and he would vote Conservative for ever. This gamble (“The Leap in the Dark”) gave most skilled working class men in the towns the vote. It would be fifty plus years on before women were also included in the process.
A hundred and fifty years on we have all forgotten this. When we see news footage from countries far away, people walking for days and queueing in the sun to register their votes, do we recognise ourselves at all? Many working people are struggling to house, feed and clothe themselves, the rise of food banks becoming an essential tool in the fight against poverty.
I can understand why many people do not think it is worth voting. ‘They are all the same’ ‘It means nothing to me’ ‘I don’t have time, can’t be bothered’ many comments told to me when discussing politics and elections. It is very difficult to argue that you can make a difference when the results seem to tell you otherwise.
Young people in particular have been treated disgustingly in my opinion. The rules for minimum wage means those under 21 are paid much less than those older for doing exactly the same job. If they study and go on to university they are left in huge debt and mostly the media portrays them as lazy layabouts and thugs in hoodies. I don’t think the Prime Minister is keen on hugging them anymore. So we treat them differently and then expect them to engage with the system that has not shown an interest in them at all.
We have white working class people being whipped into a frenzy of fear, all to keep them scared and to encourage separation. Divide and rule is an age old tactic and is being employed by our politicians on a daily basis. While we are busy being scared of each other we are not noticing the changes to our society being made that will affect all of us
Those people who have chosen to come and live in work in our country, or those who’s parents answered the call to come in the 1950’s are also being marginalised. Meanwhile we are all busy worrying about each other and not looking at the real problem. Centralisation, oppression and general ignorance. A media that invests in the lies to sell newspapers, and in turn influences many who are too tired or apathetic to read between the lines.
Four hundred years ago tonight there were plans afoot to rid the country of our parliament. It failed. A thousand rockets will be fired tomorrow to celebrate this fact. But, if we really think about it, is our parliament today fit for purpose?
We need to wake up before it is too late.