Photo: Parker Johnson

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…

Churchill

I try to avoid sharing my political beliefs on social media. Those who know me well, know well my political beliefs.

To me, such beliefs are like underwear. They come in a wide range and many colours. They should fit comfortably and not be too extreme. Letting people catch a glimpse is OK. However, it can become embarrassing for all if you continuously parade around in them.

This week’s provocative Reflection is therefore on politics but is not political.

The Government should have seen the danger earlier. The Government was slow to react. The Government is more concerned with big business than the wellbeing of the people. The Government isn’t gearing up to ensure there is enough equipment for everyone.

Statements people made about the current COVID epidemic?

Well, these are the things people said about the then Government in the early months of the Second World War.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

Over the past weeks, I’ve heard many comments about our current Government’s handling of issues. On COVID, Black Lives Matter, Brexit, Exam results and, and. Most comments, not altogether flattering.

Yet only some nine months ago this was the Government that many people felt would do the best job for the country. So much so they gave them a healthy margin of seats and even turned over to them, seats in which Labour incumbents held sway for decades.

Of course, when I write many people, it’s the majority of those who cast a vote. Last December, one-third of the voting population did not vote.

There are good reasons why someone may not be able to vote. But I don’t entirely understand why people choose not to vote. To me, that’s like going to a restaurant then deciding that you will eat whatever the people on the corner table choose on your behalf.

One of the reasons often given by those that choose not to vote is that “my vote doesn’t count/matter”. I’m not sure that’s a view shared by those who protest, fight, and sometimes die to win the right to vote. The only vote that doesn’t count is the one not cast.

Another reason I hear is “voting is a waste of time as all politicians are the same”. What? Did Margaret Thatcher hold the same political views as Michael Foot? Or more recently, Boris Johnson’s Conservatives were the same as Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour? Really?

I don’t have an issue with people who hold a different political view to me. I do feel saddened when people choose not to vote. Especially when they then go on to complain about the outcome.

Our flavour of democracy operates on a first past the post principle. In the last election, the share of the popular vote didn’t reflect the number of seats won. Only a third of the voting population voted for the current Government. Yet, it won a significant majority of seats. A third voted for alternatives to the present Government, and a third didn’t seem to mind who governed them.

Unfair, you might say. Well, around 10 years ago, we had the opportunity to change it to a ‘fairer’ system in the ‘Alternative Vote’ referendum. This was that chance for those who think their vote “doesn’t count / a waste of time” to do something about it. For them to finally have a voice.

What happened? Sadly, only nineteen million out of circa forty-five million voted. Those that did vote did so two to one against a change. Not sure what the still silent majority of twenty-six million were doing. It might be they were at the cinema. No doubt watching a film chosen by the chap two streets over.

Joseph de Maistre once wrote, “every nation has the Government it deserves”.

Something to chew on when we next have cause to moan about the Government. Especially for those eating the meal chosen by the people sitting at the corner table.

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