It was Tony Benn’s 5th and most important question for the powerful, and likely a huge factor in voting apathy – How do we get rid of government?
With a record of 70 broken pledges and counting, including increasing transparency, tackling youth unemployment, greener energy (Vote Blue, Go Less Green), the coalition have shown that governments are currently free to run roughshod over promises and proceed with any plan they wish.
But, if governments are not accountable to the public, we are not living in a democracy.
Some may bemoan the non-voters in Thursday’s 33.8% turnout, but when you note that the government we have (you know, the one that no one voted for) have reneged on all but a sorry handful of their election promises and yet are allowed to continue with impunity, I can’t blame them.
There should be ways to rid ourselves of a government. A system of accountability that keeps the political party in power in fear of exploiting votes that got them in.
If politicians thought they would be pulled from power when reversing on election promises, perhaps we’d see less flamboyant, but more honest pledges. Perhaps the PR machine would be less well adjusted to maintain the pantomime. I’m sure at least, we’d see more votes.
Not that politicians are interested in all that. There seems to be an enjoyment taken from the disaffected, under-served majority. Have you heard the new plans the government are undertaking to engage some of that whopping 66%? No, neither have I. Even for those that do vote, there’s a purgatory of mind-boggling strategic voting that no one knows the rules to. Pushing us to opt for a party you think might win rather than the one you want, frantically making compromises on our basic values before we’ve reached the ballot box. Democracy, circa 2014.
Creating conditions as opposed to unabashed free reign would be a restoration in the power of the collective public, undermining Westminster egos, ulterior motives and hidden agendas. If we want a government that works for us, this is a huge part of getting it.
It would also take some power from corporations, who at present gift change from bottomless bank balances, lobby and stuff influence-buying backhanders into the pockets of our decision makers. You need only type the words ‘white collar crime’ into Google to see the rollicking, sordid bed shared by politicians and millionaires.
Indeed, political impunity seems to extend to the fact that cabinets and MPs don’t even have to come close to representing us. I mean, what can we really expect when our government is vastly staffed with the same 1% of people that have continued siphoning wealth and resources whilst austerity rings out across the rest of us.
Perhaps if there was a conditionality to being in power, some of these people wouldn’t be our candidates.
by Kam Sandhu – @KamBass