Politicians, listen up. Your time has come.
Last night, whilst at a performance by the Barefoot Doctor, and completely unrelated to it, though I was in a fairly open-minded mood, I had a bit of a revelation. And as my revelations go, this one’s a bit of a big one.
The problem is clear
Politicians, and by proxy, central Government, decides what they want to do and when they want to do it. Each political party has an agenda, and each one ends up doing and undoing things that have been done by those in power back through the ages. The problem with this is that we, as the electorate, have “democratically” elected a dictatorship for a government term. I’m not here to talk about any of the various voting structures. I’ve come to realise it’s not a party problem. It’s bigger than that, and it goes deeper into the fabric of what politics means in this country to the population at large.
Why no one has done anything about it is clear too – it’s such a big move, and it disassociates so much of central government in its current guise that it would mean a complete paradigm shift in the way politics is done in this country, and even possibly Europe and the World. I’m discounting that as a valid reason. Government, be it local or central, has a duty to us as citizens of this country to do right by us at all times, and to govern the country (I will come back to the specific terminology of the word ‘govern’ later) fairly. If it, or the people within it, are doing things to satisfy their own egos, agendas and for want of a better word, fantasies, then they are not fit for duty to serve us.
This leads me nicely to the electorate. If you look at voting stats every time there is a poll, or a local, by- or general election, what effectively amounts to a tiny proportion of the voting public cast a vote of any kind. Why? Any number of reasons, excuses, whatever you want to call them. Fundamentally these people are disaffected. They feel that whatever happens in Government will happen anyway, whether they vote or not, and they feel that most of what they’re told is a load of old cobblers. In truth, it usually is. Of course, there are more honest politicians and less honest ones, but as a whole, our Government is so tied up in lies it’s almost impossible to see out of the knotted maze.
In a knotted world, political solutions come with high prices
So this got me thinking. People don’t vote because they don’t think it matters and in truth it probably doesn’t. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have a say, and it doesn’t mean that the elected government has authority to act on our behalf without first consulting us, which they do on a regular basis. Let us boil this down to the basics needs:
- I want to discuss things that affect me and those close to me
- I want someone to explain to me why things I might not consider to affect me do, and what impact certain choices might have
- I want people to be honest when they don’t know the outcome and to say so
- I want decisions that affect me to reflect my actual needs, not those perceived by others
I can’t say I speak for everyone – I really don’t know if I do or not – but I do know that these particular truths I hold close to my chest. I’m sure I’m not the only one. Let’s see.
I do have a solution to how this can possibly happen, and it uses technology where technology is at its best – facilitating things we are doing or would like to do in a manner that makes it simple and straight forward to solve potentially big problems. We are a rather social population. We seem to love talking to our friends, colleagues and acquaintances. And for some reason we seem to like doing this on the Internet on sites like Facebook. There is our starting point. Allow people to socially discuss things that matter to them in a way that actually makes it up to the powers that be and get actioned on based on the discussion that happens. This will likely involve heated debate and people disagreeing, but if the premise is to impact on a particular issue at hand, I’m certain it will do better with widespread debate and be less fallible than if it were just debated in the Commons.
The bigger picture takes this a step further. Government should do just that – govern, not dictate. That means it should act as the checks and balances, and allow governance to happen on a much more local level. For instance, a change made in central government is going to affect people in large houses in leafy Surrey differently to those who have just lost their jobs in a mining town in the north. This debate would allow people to discuss local issues effectively, to understand the impact it might, or will, have on their surroundings and on what they know, and engage the population with what ultimately is their politics, again reverting to the truest sense of the word – a means by which decisions are made collectively.
As a truly democratic nation, the important things to the electorate, not the elected, are the things that should be dealt with. Should we have bailed out the banks rather than let them crumble and fail as we would other businesses? Personally I think no, but that’s my opinion, and I’d love to have a debate on it at a national and local level to come up with a solution that probably hasn’t been thought of yet. Technology is today allowing us to converse with our friends and even those we don’t know extremely easily. We can harness that connectivity and it can allow us to yank back power, kicking and screaming, from those who call politics a black art.
Who’s with me? This is going to be painful. It’s going to take a while. But if we put the building blocks in place, we can change not only the face of politics, but the mesh that holds it together too.