If you’re a friend with me on Facebook you’ll notice that I’m constantly posting news articles, giving updates on protests, and sharing pictures from activist groups such as TRAP and Coalition of Resistance etc. This reached the point that when I posted a music video of one of my favourite bands someone instantly commented “Oh my God! Something that’s not politics!”
So why do people lack so much interest in politics? One argument could be that most people don’t realise how much around them is directly affected by politics which, as they see it, is just a bunch of rich guys sitting in a room and arguing about Europe and occasionally taking us to war and it’s easy to see why. All we hear about is MPs expenses and how the government spends too much. It can certainly become tedious. But there is so much more to it than that. Anything in our lives can be affected by even the smallest decision in Parliament. Anything from parking meters on the side of the road to taking us to war.
But we all know that as well. We may sometimes forget to what extent the decisions made in Parliament affect us but we are aware. So why don’t we care? Why is it that every time you’re in the pub with friends and someone brings up politics the whole table groans? Well it’s simple really. It’s not that politics is boring. It’s not even that people don’t care. It’s simply that people have no faith in politics.
“Well it’s not like we can do anything about it.” and “Politicians are all the same.” These are just two of the most common phrases that come up during a talk about politics. Somebody told me today that politicians are just like actors because they are just paid to lie all the time. The only difference is that actors are entertaining.
The next question I’m about to put to you is almost not worth saying because the answer is obvious. Why do people feel this way? Earlier this year 250,000 people marched through London in protest of government reforms. This was one of the largest peaceful protests seen in Britain in decades. The protesters were demanding that the new coalition government revised it’s spending review and tried to source or save money in different areas to the ones that it had proposed. The ‘cuts’ threaten emergency services, charities, businesses, armed forces, public transport as well as jobs and services all over the country. In the eyes of the protesters no one will be spared apart from the very well off. Lots of alternative solutions have been proposed with solid evidence to back their ideas. There are also lots of professionals who believe that the spending reforms will actually make the problem worse.
Yet despite all this nothing was changed. The students had rioted and nothing changed. The unions went on strike and nothing changed. Government officials resigned in protest and nothing changed. Occupy is now in full swing in over 1,000 cities all over the world where a grand total over half a million people are protesting against the ruling elite in a peaceful (and educated) way. Nothing is changing. There are more strikes and protests planned for later this year and guess what everyone expects to happen afterwards? Nothing of course.
But there are ways of changing the government. Political pressure groups do a good job of affecting government policy. And we have the House of Lords looking out for us, right? They’re not elected so aren’t trying to win votes and secure their pensions. They are appointed because of their knowledge and expertise and experience. Plus there are lobbying groups that are open to everyone. But this may not be good as it sounds. Pressure groups get to give advice but MPs don’t have to listen. The same with lobbying groups. Plus only the rich can afford to pay for them. Low Associates is a lobbying group, sorry, I mean ‘strategic policy advisers.’ It’s run by Andrew Lansley’s (Secretary for the department of Health) wife.
So if you have the money you can pay for him to pass on your ideas straight to the big man himself. Mr Dave C. However, if you’re poor you will have to wait in line at your local village hall once a year to meet your MP who really couldn’t care less if Tesco (that just went through Low Associates to get support) has decided to build a new petrol station next to your house and then halve the value of your property. The House of Lords are great but with the Parliament Act of 1949 the House of Commons don’t need the Lords consent before sending a new Act up for Royal Assent.
So if the official routes are no help, and protesting is no good, then what can you do? Nothing. You just get on with your life, try not to think about it, and groan whenever someone reminds you of your inability to change the world for the better because in the end no one listens.
I like to end on a question so here’s an obvious one. How can you make politics more appealing to someone who doesn’t believe they can make a difference?