By now nearly everybody in the world has seen Russell Brand being interviewed by Jazza Paxman and, essentially, saying everything that many of us think and feel about the current state of politics and social organisation. We all applaud and, like a sugar rush or shot of strong spirits, the emotions rush to our heads and we punch the air while sat in front of our computer, smart phone or tablet; and there lies the rub. We remain seated.
Then, like the old stereotype about a Chinese meal (I have no idea how that started as everytime I’ve been to a Chinese restaurant I’m fine for at least 8 hours), you find yourself feeling empty again. Once you start examining the reasons for this you soon start to see the flaws in the Brand new way of doing things. Not that there is anything wrong about some good old ranting about the system, I made a career of it in The Members. My problem is with the “Don’t Vote” thing.
Have you noticed just how poisoned the national discourse has become, particularly about immigrants and benefits? You know why? Because UKIP turned up at the polls, that’s why. Simple. Every time you hear some person saying voting doesn’t change anything the response should be “NOT voting changes everything in a way you don’t want”. When all these myopic, two dimensional UKIP politicians turn up on our TV screens pointing the finger at some fictitious EU immigrant threat they are there because somebody else didn’t bother voting.
They represent a scare for a Conservative Party that is so regressive and cut off from its own heartland, and in response they feel obliged to co-opt the rhetoric, which they couch in mealy mouthed platitudes, in turn our media leaps upon the story feeding the immi-frenzy that passes for politics and in turn the apparently more liberal parties feel obliged to ape and mimic these positions because a dumbed down electorate will repeat and elaborate upon the anecdotal evidence put up by a party of bigots that is UKIP. And this happened because many on the left believe that voting doesn’t change anything and didn’t turn up. UKIP doesn’t believe that, and as a result they are the ones setting the parameters for what passes for political discourse.
There are plenty of people out there, the young, the poor, the dispossessed and the desperate, who don’t vote. They are not stopped from voting, there’s no voter ID type scam in place that would cause them problems like they have in the land of the free, they just don’t bother. There’s a mixture of politicians are all liars and cheats and “I’m not really into politics” and this allows the elites to ensure their continued existence, allows for the dismantling of the welfare state and the destruction of the NHS.
If you don’t vote then your opinion really doesn’t count at all. It doesn’t matter how many online petitions you sign or how many Facebook posts you like if your voice isn’t represented in voting numbers then no one is listening. I admire 38Degrees, Change and Occupy but they don’t have any political representation so their opinion meant sod all when parliament passed the recent lobbying bill. UKIP have no MPs but their voters have scared a major political party and skewed the national conversation.
Imagine if those voters had supported immigrants and the weak. We might have a far more reasonable discussion. Almost a revolution.
Now that’s a brand new way of thinking.