The recent shenanigans over MPs expenses have left me shouting, ‘What do you expect? ‘at the telly and/or radio on a number of occasions. This is not because I’m a cynic that believes that power corrupts and that they are all in it for the money. Heaven forbid. No, I shout because people are so quick to criticise whilst sitting on their fat arses, whilst at the same time they are not prepared to engage with the democratic process. How many of those that moan actually turn out and vote at every election? When you discover that it’s usually in around 60%/70% for a general election and around half that for local or Euro elections it shows what a farce our democracy is. ‘He who is without sin cast the first stone’. Participation doesn’t end with trolling down to the polling station, that’s just a tiny part of it. Elections are about choosing a representative, but how can they represent the people in their constituency when they don’t know how those people feel? How can they be held to account if they are not questioned, challenged or lobbied by the people they represent?
If we are to live in a true democracy then it requires the vast majority of the people to participate in a more vigorous way than they do now. That means that people should join a political party, go to surgeries, go to council meetings, ‘shout’ about what they believe in and generally let their representatives know how they feel. Until we all start doing some of this we have absolutely no right to criticise and no right to expect MPs, councillors etc to do any better than they are now. That not to say that many don’t do a good job already, because many do. You will often find that idealism, and not personal gain, is what drives people into politics. I think it’s fair to say, no matter of what persuasion that you are, that our prime minister Gordon Brown is one such politician. Doing something, however small, is better than nothing. If you don’t feel ready to go to join a party or go to meetings then start small. If you are reading this then the chances are that you have internet access (unless someone else has printed this out for you). Check the news sites to see what your representatives are up to. Join in with online debates on forums and blogs. Visit ‘TheyWorkForYou.com‘. This is a really useful website that helps to keep tabs on the UK’s parliaments and assemblies, and it also allows you to contact your representatives about issues that are dear to your heart. A sister site’WriteToThem.com‘ enables you to make contact with local councillors and MEPs.
Please do something, however small. Our democracy needs you! Use it or lose it.
Just in case you are wondering, I plan to join a political party, and to see where that takes me.