Annie wrote a blog-et this morning, read it out to me and I said it was great and she should post it on Facebook. So she deleted it. I clearly should have said it was crap….
Anyway, as I agreed with it all and would have even said some of it myself if I’d still been into writing blogs much, I’m going to say what I would have said…. She said she didn’t like hers because it sounded preachy, but I’m generally accused of being preachy before I even open my mouth so I’ve nothing to lose.
She and I were both Polling Agents on Election Day. Polling Agents don’t do much but stand and look pretty. We both independently had the same sensation that watching people engaging in the act of democracy was – for all its faults – a moving one. So what I’d like to say about politicians is this:
Politicians are made for getting corrupted. They start off with principles, with ideals of service and of doing good, and they get corrupted, burned out, dried up. Why is this? I think one important cause is because of something that gets called “voter apathy”. I don’t call it that, I call it an infantilised population, I call it people putting everything onto their politicians and the governments they form: “daddy will fix it” is the basic attitude, and when he doesn’t, it’s “daddy’s shite”. Yet politicians are real people who sacrifice a lot – their privacy, often their family life, their health and even their mental well-being to put themselves at the disposal of the people they represent. Their pay looks like a mint – but to me everyone else’s pay looks like a mint so I really can’t be certain that it is that much; and I have had some insights into how many of our own politicians spend their money, and it certainly arouses neither my wrath nor my contempt – and come an election like the one we had last week and for many of them – oof! it’s all gone, just like that.
So to those who came to vote, I salute you, the sixteen and seventeen year olds coming for the first time with rather serious faces, and the grey ones creeping along on sticks, both those who greeted me as I stood beaming at the door with my yellow-and-black badge on and those who studiously avoided my eye (yes, I could have done a poll!). I don’t understand why these latter don’t see fit to follow the desires of the younger generation for whom the government of the future is going to be so much more important than for them – maybe they think they know better than the youngsters and believe they’re doing it “for their own good”. I don’t understand them but I salute them nevertheless. And to the many who didn’t come, the many whom I’ve met on doorsteps while canvassing who sneer and say, “nae interested”; or proudly announce “I’ve never voted”, or “politicians are all the same – they’re all corrupt”, or those like the occupier of a particularly well-appointed house who demanded, “what has the government ever done for me?” I would say this: you make me angry, and perhaps a spell in Belgium, where voting is obligatory, would do you some good and rouse a small sense of civic duty. I’ve been dissatisfied with our style of democracy for most of my adult life, and I certainly don’t think I like the kind of PR which is currently in force in Scotland – it has an air of deceit about it. I am an active member of the SNP, but support many policies of the Greens and look forward to their getting even stronger, and I have deep-reaching anarchist instincts – but I’ll support the form of democracy we have because I don’t at the moment see anyone coming up with anything better, and I do see that the whole structure of what we call civilisation is probably about to collapse round our ears, and the politicians who represent us really do need to be told what we think can be done to make the crash, when it comes, as endurable as possible. If the people don’t interact with their representatives in an adult and rational way, how are the politicians expected to act in an adult and rational way themselves?
Government can only be as good as the people who install it.