In Part I of a double-header, The Slog argues that voting in the UK will never make politicians accountable
‘German operators of coal and gas power plants are sounding the alarm: the operation of many power plants is no longer profitable as a result of the green energy transition. Dozens of plants could be closed down, the industry warns. Of approximately 90,000 megawatts of conventional power capacity in Germany, up to 20 percent could be shut down, the newspaper quoted the CEO of a utility. In the worst case scenario, Germany would face blackouts. So far, the Federal Network Agency has received 15 applications to close down power plants, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reports. E.ON, the largest energy company in Germany, has decided to close down eleven power plants in Europe by 2015. Its competitor RWE announced similar shut down plans.’
This is the problem with political opportunists: they always f**k up the real opportunities. But it does raise a much broader issue: what is to be done with politicians who are obsessed with but three things: votes, power and money? I put the three prongs on their fork in that order because I do think it’s the way things work: if they get the votes, they win the power. When they’ve won the power, they attract the money. The problem for we, the citizens, is that we don’t seem to feature anywhere in this equation other than for half of one day every five years or so.
For that one General Election day, we have all the buggers at our mercy; but despite grumbling 24/7 about corrupt politicians who never do anything sensible, waste money and disguise taxes, we never take power. What we do is confirm their legitimacy.
By far the main reason this happens is the continued existence of blindly traditional tribalism: the Right hates Labour, and would rather vote for a praying mantis than cast their vote that way. (Hence Louise Mensch). The Left increasingly refuses to engage with anyone who doesn’t accept every tenet of pc, cod-Keynesian, feminist social engineering and spending strategy put up by their heroes over the last fifteen years. This of course plays right into the Establishment’s hands: they have a ready and steady supply of robotic voters every time, adding up to approximately 45% of the electorate.
Over the last two years, some grumblers on the Right have spotted that UKip’s jolly jester Nigel Farage is even more right-wing than they are: and thus, as the EU has become yet another issue the Establishment refuses to consider (or even heed) they’ve turned to him in some numbers. This is the best chance we’re ever going to get produce a clear-majority Administration where everyone nasty wins: Murdoch, the Barclay twins, Hunt, Fallon, blokes in grey shoes, Gove and Dick Delingpole.
The total of votes committed at this point is around 60%. The second biggest reason for the survival of self-styled ‘élite’ nonentities is the growing level of abstention by between 40 and 50% of the electorate, depending on how particularly unspeakable the last Government might have been. They’re largely made up of the destitute, the desperate, the druggies, and the dense. But a lot of them now are <30 year olds who aren’t so much beyond help as bored sh*tless by the entire farrago, indeed including Nigel Farago himself. This is because they don’t wear cavalry twill trousers or drink ale in naff pubs.
I used to harbour ambitions about changing this blind faith and braindead apathy: but they sailed out to sea during the 2010 Election, and were sunk without trace by the performance of a Coalition in which so many placed so much hope….just as they’d done with Bliar in 1997. I now believe that something else will have to be used as a catalyst before we can make people see that they do have power, if only they’d wield it.
Increasing numbers of people are turning to thoughts of ropes and lampposts, but any politically interested historian – amateur or professional – knows full well that this will satiate ire, but achieve nothing beyond that. As most of you know, I think a political Party is a waste of time, because (a) a good 70% of the population would ‘get it'; and (b) before long it too will have seats and constituents and make promises and take bribes.
Voting is a necessary evil that has taken power away from us. I realise that sounds dangerously Nazi, but until such time as a meaningful, decent political choice-set is open to us, voting is by far the most powerful weapon the Establishment has – because it obeys apathy, arcane tradition and blind loyalty – rather than sound reasons for exercising one’s democratic rights.
What the Political Class needs to face is more fear between the five-yearly box-ticking ritual. Put another way, they need to be reminded at least once a fortnight that the relationship here is You legislators >> Me Citizen, heap powerful witch doctor >> You work me, paleface >> EU membership unacceptable. (Or whatever the issue is).
I’m perfectly aware of the fact that many techno-jerks are starting to push for constant electronic democracy. This would produce, without doubt, the car of State to be parked in neutral with the engine running 24/7. Politicians who are doing their job do need time to think and the space to lead. The problem isn’t one of needing more plebiscites; the problem is one having pols who neither think nor lead, and don’t do the job we pay them to do. Thus five years ago we got, “Solving the energy problem by going balls-out for nuclear would be controversial and expensive and might backfire. So the answer is millions of unsightly and pointless propellers”. Now we have a major problem…as indeed does little Geli.
I’m thinking along completely different lines. Rather, I’m thinking of a Second Chamber that will replace the Lords: but be driven by the best motives for controlling the elected potato-heads.