This is especially hard to do with a voting system which, as the Electoral Reform Society points out it, produces 600,000 players and an audience of 25,000,000. 600,000 people happen to live in marginal seats, so they get a real election, complete with politicians who take them serously, whilst the other 25 million of us, merely watch the floats go by. 385 seats are a done deal before the show begins. The only political animal 95% of us can aspire to be is a sheep:
You don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to see that, however exciting this may all be for the lucky 600,000, the other 25 million shuffle in their seats.
All politicans agree people ought to get out and vote, and profess dismay at the way turnout has collapsed over the past twenty years and among the young. If they mean what they say, an alien inquirer might wonder, why not do the obvious and bring the disenfranchised 25 million onto the stage? It’s not rocket science.
Or perhaps it is
- Changing the voting system means turkeys voting for Christmas. Why would they? The present system suits the political nomenklatura, because it creates a landscape they can manage without much reference to ordinary people. So we have a burgeoning professional political class that squashes its personal discretion and conviction in order to keep on message. It’s the price of power. Anyway, it would be a fearful bore and rather expensive to engage with 44 million. It’s as much as they can do to talk to 600,000.
- Furthermore the present system means politicans sometimes lose, but it’s worth sticking with the game because only by doing so can you win it. And when your turn comes, Bingo! you can live for five years in bright sunlit uplands where you don’t have to listen to or take other politicians seriously, let alone the public.
- This leads to rather unresponsive government. To give just one example someone mentioned to me this week, against the clear opposition of 60% of the population you can start an illegal war that kills half a million innocent civilians. Legitimacy is a vague, slippery concept. It won’t lose you an election.
I am a doctor.
Scary stuff. One of the girls, Poppy, explains:
SIXTEEN Page 3 Girls in all their glory represent the very image of freedom in this country. But if Labour or the Lib Dems win the election, this could be the last time they are allowed to pose together.
The basis of Lockean thought is his theory of the Contract of Government, under which all political power is a trust for the benefit of the people. His thinking underpins our ideas of national identity and societyPoppy’s words call into serious question Locke’s observation (in the Essay concerning human understanding) “that in bare naked perception the mind is, for the most part, only passive.” If Poppy does end up in the dole queue, it won’t be long before a University Philosphy Department snaps her up. Lecturers get the kind of regular salaries that will enable her to buy herself some nice clothes, including, perhaps, some underwear. So what’s the Sun trying to say to us? “You don’t have to be a Dirty Old Man to vote Tory, but it helps?” Now that is off message...