Wednesday, January 20, 2010



I was lying in bed just now listening to Ed Balls, a Lib Dem and some Tory prick witter on about tax benefits for married people. This, apparently, is the pinnacle of modern political debate: whether a mediaeval custom with no system of oversight should be rewarded financially.

Is it just me or is UK politics a carnival of misdirection, enormous, invisible elephants and outright fantasy? Let me put it this way: What is the role of politicians in our society? I would argue that in a functioning democracy the role of elected politicians it is to represent the interests of their constituency in parliament. Taking a realistically cynical view of politics what actually happens is the politicians work to satisfy only that proportion of the electorate which can they can influence, excluding the unregistered voters, the dogmatics, members of minor parties, those not eligible to vote, those in whom learned helplessness is cultivated to such a degree that they won't vote, etc. etc. I imagine the proportion of the population left after these subtractions varies between barely a few percent in "safe" seats and thirty or forty percent in marginal seats. For the rest of us our interests are simply not politically represented at a national level. My interests certainly aren't as I vote for one of those minor parties ("minor" here being the fourth largest party in the country). That this is consistently ignored by the media- including the one organisation which is specifically meant to bring "balance" and "depth" to coverage in this country- trumpets long and hard through its sinuous, grey trunk at the people surrounding it but stubbornly refusing to perceive its existence.

I'm liking the elephant metaphor. I'm going to use it more today.

What's more worrying is that many campaigning organisations exist to highlight this absurdity and to lobby for changes to the system to remedy it:

make my vote count
unlock democracy
38 degrees
electoral reform society
vote for a change

And yet public interest in these issues is paltry and when the issue does surface in parliament it is inevitably either rejected by the vested interests of the dominant parties, brushed under the carpet or the solutions offered are so weak as to be barely distinguishable from a continuance of business-as-usual.

So, democracy in the UK appears to be irreparably fucked, at least in terms of the potential to make the massive changes to our society that the transition to sustainability require. In the medium-to-long term it is highly likely that world events will awaken the electoral dragon and people and politics will drift towards that goal. However, its likely to be a reactionary response instead of a proactive one and much suffering and hardship will result along the way. That this in any way avoidable seems in real doubt to me. Where do you look for non-democratic ways to influence politics? Should I care? Answers on a ferret to this address, please. Preferably on one called Sid. I always wanted a ferret called Sid.


  1. "Where do you look for *non-democratic* ways to influence politics?" (My emphasis)

    Well, at least you're honest about it.

  2. As your post is relevant I will not delete it despite your banned status on this blog. I was going to clarify this point in another post but seeing as you have asked the short answer is "benevolent dictatorship". Of course punkscience will have to give up his blogging in order to assume command of the nation for its own benefit but then its a sacrifice you will just have to come to accept. In the grander scheme of things there are more important things than composing profane rants on the injustices and hypocrisy of human civilisation in the 21st century.

  3. "benevolent dictatorship"

    Ah, yes, they all begin that way but somehow ... don't quite know how ... the first word gets lost ... perhaps because most people think *they* know best what is best for them. Irritating and in need of severe re-education, I know, but there it is ... people - heh!

    Off topic, I have teased you concerning your Ph.D. but I do recognise that it must have taken a concerted effort on your part, so well done.

  4. Are you seriously suggesting that all dictatorships begin with benevolent intentions? Even if you were being deliberately obtuse for the purposes of some sort of humour that's an absolutely ridiculous comment. Back to the sin bin, Duff. You have nothing to offer except idiocy and hollow platitudes.

  5. According to their progenitors, they do. For example, Lenin, Hitler, Mao, Castro, Pol Pot - I could go on but I trust you get the point, they all started their murderous regimes with the very best of intentions!

  6. I went to delete your post but then stopped because I think its important to have your bizarre logic laid bare for others to marvel at.

  7. Have a look at Power2010,, where some real proposals for democratic reform are being discussed.

    I was one of the 200 people who took part in the deliberative poll earlier this month and it was amazing how a cross-section of the UK public could reach consensus on what needs to be changed over just one weekend.

    It rather exposed the pointlessness of our elected "representatives"...

  8. I was on that site yesterday, voting for all the good ideas they had. Cross sections of the public are a good idea but you need to ensure that you enfranchise the opinions of more than just those volunteers and activists pushing for change. The ordinary Sun-reading bloke call centre employee off the street needs to be involved too and for their input to be useful they need to be educated as to the point of democracy. One of the ideas that I found most appealling on the Power2010 site was the idea of compulsory politics lessons in schools. Lets face it, our political system is esoteric, archaic and profoundly impenetrable to anyone without several weeks of time to dedicate to researching its intricacies and history. The system needs to be completely reformed, made functional and accessible to all. Not just the professional politicians who exploit public ignorance for personal and ideological purposes.

  9. Feel free, Doctor, to make use of your scalpel!

  10. Duff, do you even know what "progenitors" means?

  11. Hitler started with the very best of intentions, did he? Interesting...


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