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Getting on my high horse

My sister was telling me that her and a couple of friends saw Gordon Brown today. My sister asked if they ought to get some eggs, but it turns out her two mates are both labour voters. This led me to thinking - why do people vote the way they do in elections?

Politics seems to me to be getting lost on a lot of levels. I believe that neither Labour, nor the Tories want to govern by democracy. I don’t think either party actually listens to general public opinion except in order to figure out what we want to hear so we vote them in for another four years. How else can Labour have presented the very same pledges and promises four or five times in one electoral term and yet still not implement many of them (NHS, Teaching, Immigration, Crime, Single Currency - all still stuck in the same state they were years ago despite pledges to the contrary)? I believe they get away with it because they know what the public want to hear, they say it, and then they do their own thing anyway. It’s my belief that they think ‘Joe Public doesn’t understand what is required to govern, so why actually listen to them? They can’t make appropriate choices.’ Well that’s fair play to an extent, because it happens to be true to an extent, but I feel if that view is taken to too far an extreme they’re playing with fire. They govern for the public, which is something that appears to get lost too often in the ‘clever’ word-play.

Tony my friend, grin your smarmy grin all you like, but I don’t give a crap about your desire to police the world, look after everyone else, and buddy-up to America. Get your own house in order before you consider the rest of the world.
I don’t want more immigrants in Britain. Not because I don’t care about their plight, but because there are lines that must be drawn. The UK population is 60 million. How many people do you want here? Are all these extra people a good idea when most immigrants will be claiming benefits for some considerable time and are becoming a considerable percentage of our population? Are a good percentage of them giving back to their adopted country, or are they draining the system of resources? Draw a line, and then when we’re ready we can help more people.
You’re still sinking billions into an NHS which your own doctors, nurses and health inspectors report no improvement in. Your nurses are underpaid and even they claim that the majority of medical practitioners are now brought in from over-sea’s. Why?
How about crime? You’re doing an excellent job of changing how you do your sums but prisons are still overflowing, judges are being told not to send criminals to jail, female convictions are increasing at an astronomical rate, your ASBO’s are a complete laughing stock, and trust in the police is continually eroded by money making and figure enhancing schemes like speed cameras and an ever reducing police presence on the street.
What’s the incentive for people to get educated and work at good jobs when under a Labour government it is more profitable to stay at home, hit the age of 16 and spend your life getting pregnant and claiming benefit? More fool the people that try to live decent lives when sponging off the government pays better. You know what that leads to? The spongers and wastrels multiply at a far higher rate than the normal population, who’s taxes are paying for the spongers to stay at home to scream at their kids, receive ASBOs and bring up another generation of spongers. Keep on running the country that way and it will cripple itself very quickly. I’m not saying that these people don’t deserve help. I’m saying that the way it’s decided how help is given is wrong. I believe the American system is much better. You get one chance at your benefits, and if you don’t change your ways they get taken from you. That’s fair on everyone.

As you can tell, I have plenty to moan about. Why am I not balancing this view with a list of things that are better under a Labour government? Because I’m not actually sure what is better now than it was seven or eight years ago.
The perception of safety in our country? Nope, that’s down - thugs are prevalent, and even where they aren’t the perception many people have is that thugs could be around every corner. Or a terrorist.
Confidence in ourselfs and our government? Nope, figures there are down.
Crime rates? Well, depends who’s doing the sums.
What about education? Well, there’s loads more graduates… in a load of courses that are effectively worthless. Oh, and of course England is the only country in Britain where we suffer top-up-fees. Excellent idea to get lots of graduates, most of which leave education owing £10k-£20k. Most of which get jobs in supermarkets they could have had four years previously without their degree. I’m sure they’re going to get on the property ladder… I’m also sure they’ll do great saving for a pension under those conditions. Of course they need to save for one early too, because you’ve screwed pensions over haven’t you?

So… how am I going to vote in the next election? By which I mean how will I make a decision. I focus on avoidance. I’m not optimistic about what Labour or the Tories can deliver, so I concentrate on what they definitely won’t deliver that the other might. It’s not a good way to make a decision, but I feel it’s the only viable method.
I certainly don’t make my decision based on the person I’m voting for. Kath reported that quite a few people in that meeting with Gordon Brown were uttering things like “he’s such a lovely man though”. So bloody what? Does his being nice have any bearing on what policies and decisions he’s going to make? Unlikely. He can make the best cup of tea in the world and visit has gran in hospital every day, but for the job I’m considering him for - I don’t care. None of that makes him a good person to vote for if his political stance is to scrap the NHS and hand over yet more political control to the EU.

I have a great fear that our way of choosing leaders and governments is the same as how people choose the winner of Pop Idol. No one cares about the talent or the appropriateness of the choice to the task. They vote for who they like. Stupid. Absolutely stupid. One of the reasons Hitler got into power was he was so very good at manipulating opinion and appearing likeable on some level. Did people consider he was showing signs of being a genocidal f***head? No, because they liked him. (I’m well aware the reality of the situation was not anything like that simple, so don’t try educating me on that. I’m illustrating a point, not documenting history).

What’s my point? Well, beyond illustrating that I think Labour is a lost cause I’m curious as to how you’re going to make your decisions. Are you going to look objectively and optimistically, pessimistically, or for whoever is the snappiest dresser and has the nicest smile?


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  1. MWF posted 1hrs, 52min, 48sec after the entry and said:

    I rarely approach this subject as it will always lead to me becoming frustrated hearing or reading someone basing their opinions on the very reasons you mention. And like a member of the house of commons I nod in agreement and say ‘hear hear’ to your comments.

    Indeed we do live in a country that fascinates itself with aspects of politicians that have nothing to do with their role. This is the reason I have not voted in a general election, I simply do not know enough about politics or party policies to justify the effect I may have on this countries future. It frustrates me so much when teachers stare seriously at their pupils and say “You must vote, you have the right to.” It’s not that I don’t appreciate the right to vote, or that I don’t understand the significance in being able to but I cannot let myself vote for votings sake. I will learn, and I will vote, in time.

    It amazes me what people say tho, “I will be voting Tory just to get Blair out, he’s such a screw up.” and you ask why and get “Well… well… he just is, I mean look at him!” I wonder how many active voters walk into polling stations knowing nothing about the person they are voting for other than what the papers say.

    Mind you, if you think about it, if a moronic society did behave like that they would eventually bring idiots into power and the country would fold with them in it. Maybe it’s happening? Maybe we need to jump ship?

  2. Matt Wilcox posted 18hrs, 13min, 26sec after the entry and said:

    I rarely talk about polotics because it’s such an easy way to get into an argument where neither party actually knows enough to be arguing with any real authority. Take any political issue and you can guarantee there are a load of sub-issues that ought to be considerd and factored in before forming an opinion on the original point of contention. The vast majority of people don’t know enough to make an educated worth-while opinion. That’s why we have politicians to specialise in the area for us.
    On the flip side of the coin it is the general public who can suggest in a broad way what we really want, and then the politicians ought to deal with the nuances to make that happen. It’s this last point that I feel Labour is failing miserably on. They’re steering the boat without consulting the passengers.

    I can see your point in not voting, and I agree that an ill considered vote is a dangerous thing. Where I differ from you is that I consider not voting at all an equaly dangerous thing. Not voting doesn’t take you out of the equation, it simply means that those who DO vote have added effect. In essence there’s a risk that if enough people didn’t vote with consideration and instead didn’t vote at all, the Pop Idol votes start to count a lot more. By not voting we risk someone getting the job based on their popularity as a person.
    I for one would rather cast a vote with the little knowledge I have than not cast a vote and end up with a government elected on a completely irrelevent rationale.

    You make an interesting point about the media influencing how people think. We have to base our opinion on something, and for most people the media is that something. We can not all attend the house of commons so we have to trust someone else to report to us the reality of a given situation. It’s one reason the BBC should be valued so highly, offering independant reporting with as little spin as you can get. Having said that I wonder how independent the BBC really is. It seems to be shuffling slowly to a pro-Labour stance.

    “Maybe it’s happening? Maybe we need to jump ship?” - believe it or not this is quite a big concern for me, and it’s something I have been thinking about for some time. I think it is happening, and I think the damage done in the last decade or two is not going to be repairable within my lifetime. I can picture a future where chavs are a social elite, completely inapropriate people are in power, the NHS has been scrapped, and a general economic and public-esteem depression. It’s one reason I’ve been thinking about emigrating with a little more weight than just a vague day-dream. I do not like where I think this country is heading, and I do not want to be old and living in that society. I do not want my kids in that society.
    You might now (quite rightly) point out how the UK is in a lot better position than a lot of other places, and how I ought to be grateful at all for having the fortune of being born here rather than somewhere far less fortunate. I’d agree, I am grateful, and there’s a lot right here. That doesn’t mean I’m going to stay here patriotically while the ship is sinking. I’ve been born in Britain and that’s given me chances and oportunities. One of those is the relative ease and ability to move on to better places.

  3. James Dodd posted 21hrs, 1min, 53sec after the entry and said:

    I’d be interested in hearing where abouts you would like to move to that you think are “better places” than the UK…

  4. Ben posted 1 days, 20hrs, 16mins after the entry and said:

    A very interesting read indeed, I couldn’t really put it better myself, points both you and Chris said. And I know the feeling about jumping ship, to me this country is turning into a free loading selfish society, there are very very few people willing to work together and for a better whole, of course there are many thousands that are, but I would guess there getting the same feeling as I am, what’s the point ? the UK is turning into chav’s ville and is rapidly becoming a very unpleasant place to live, with thousands of immigrants wanting to make a life here, a significant number choose not to follow our customs, which is getting into the whole PC thing, but I find it annoying that many foreigners simply ignore the way the UK works, im all for equal rights but im sorry there in the UK which has ways of doing things, I wouldn’t dream of going to an eastern country, settle down there and start complaining about the locals because they didn’t do it my way, and also getting money off them for doing nothing, anyways going onto another subject there ! But yes the USA or Australia are looking like very attractive places to live right now simply due to the fact there entire nations simply wouldn’t and wont put up with the crap we do here.

  5. Matthew J. Ward posted 2 days, 0hrs, 44mins after the entry and said:

    Indeed, this has been a good read. It snice to hear everyone’s opinions on the whole issue. Im afraid im one of these people that would rather not vote that vote for someone that i don’t think is going to offer anything to the country. But i can also see what you are saying Jimmni that it is also a bad thing not to vote and not have any influence what so ever.
    But i have to strongly agree with extreme overload of imigrants entering the country and it taking until now for them to finally realise and actually start doing something about it. And yes the country does seem to have been on a down hill slope for the past decade or so, with the PC unsafe culture that we live in.

  6. Matt Wilcox posted 2 days, 2hrs, 13mins after the entry and said:

    It’s interesting to read people’s reactions and opinions to this blog entry and the above comments.

    As I’ve already said, I can only see the situation getting worse over the course of my lifetime. Even if amends start getting made right now, the mistakes made now, and in the last ten or twenty years will carry on unfolding over the next few decades. With that in mind I can see two likely probabilities for the next few decades in British history:
    In the first scenario I can see that a disproportionate number of ‘native’ Britons of our generation will emigrate to places like Australia, Canada, America or France. The trend is reportedly already starting.
    In the second scenario I can see a rather messy backlash when it is our generations turn to govern. As always, politics tends to happen in swings from one extreme to another. The liberal kids of the 60’s and 70’s have led us here, and I believe it is the leaders of our generation that will be the antithesis of that movement. If you can not see this point of view in those around you, look toward America where there is a rise in Christianity and what are considered ‘old fashioned values’.
    More likely the truth will lie somewhere in the middle and both scenario’s will be partially realised.

    James - I personally feel that Canada, Australia, New Zealand and France are all places with a much more level-headed and responsible outlook than Britain currently holds. Most of these places, oddly enough, are old Colonial outposts and conquests, excepting France. The French do a lot that I might consider annoying, but you have to conceded one thing to them: They look after themselfs very well. They get their own house in order, then think about everyone else. Sometimes that’s a real annoyance but, as always, it depends on how extreme it’s taken. Now I don’t suggest I’m truly knowledgeable about any of these countries policies and histories, and looking closer I may well find qualities in each that I do not feel are ‘attractive’, but isn’t it better to look than not?

    I’ve heard people retort over this issue by saying ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’ as if stating some sort of warning or wisdom derived universal truth. I believe that sometimes the grass -is- greener on the other side, but that you’re never going to know if you don’t take a look.
    We all have to live somewhere, in some society. Most people will simply stick with what they are used to and call it patriotism. That is not patriotism. That is blinkered ignorance. Patriotism comes when you know your options and still stay where you have always been in the belief that it truly is the best there is.

    I do not wish to stay where I am out of ignorance. Nor do I want to leave for pastures new out of some ill-considered notion that mecca is just over the horizon. I will weigh up my options and test my ideas before I commit to anything, and having done that I can commit with assurance and belief.

  7. James Dodd posted 3 days, 18hrs, 36mins after the entry and said:

    Good stuff. I peronally am of the same opinion Matt, that this country (for want of a better expression) has gone to the dogs. I don’t like much about it anymore, and I certainly don’t think I’m patriotic.

    However, I personally think that “our friend” Tony has done a fantastic job so far, *compared to what the Tories would have done to the country*. I agree with Tony’s future thinking on Immigration (points system) and i can’t see anything else he’s done wrong. One thing which i’m a little confused about is the University fees system. I know your thoughts on the matter Matt but I’m still confused which is strange as I normally have an opinion one way or the other, but I really can’t make up my mind on that one.

    I know this is controversial also but I don’t really mind us making allies with America. What harm can it do to stay best buddies with the Worlds only superpower?

    Tbh Matt - before fleeing the country, try and live in another area of the UK than Stoke on Trent, I was surprised how the country can change from one part to the next when I lived in Cheltenham.

    Just my pennie’s worth anywho!

  8. GD posted 9 days, 5hrs, 55mins after the entry and said:

    Wrote this days ago but didn’t know if I should add it to your comments, but then thought ‘What the Hell’
    How refreshing to hear young people seriously discussing politics. I must agree with about 90% of what you say, but I can not agree with all you say for instance you listed a number of promises unfulfilled but it doesn’t help your argument if you do not list promises fulfilled, * it may be that you think that there haven’t been any, if this is the case then you should have said so* Just for the record there have been numerous like the lowest unemployment in decades, interest at its lowest rate, and despite the media claims a much improved NHS, just to name a couple. I do agree that the recent governments no matter the colour tend to think that we plebs can’t think for ourselves, but who’s fault is that?
    *just re-read your blog and of course you do mention there might be some pluses. Even if you were negative*
    Because the government is not a science but made up of different types of people who in the main wish to do good for the country and its people, but being human of course are prone to mistakes, and what one person thinks is right for the people is after all their opinion and usually why people voted for them, if you don’t agree with their idea’s then you vote them out. You of course may say “but I didn’t vote for them” which means that a higher percentage did vote for them or they would not be in government, you will notice that I use the word percentage and not majority that’s because in a lot of case’s the majority do not vote for them, for instance if there are three candidates the winner receiving 100vtes the second receiving 70 votes the third receiving 60votes, the majority in that ward do not want the person that won to represent them, but that’s democracy, the alternatives are, proportional representation and there in lies a mine field, or totalitarianism and that has been a disaster when and where ever it is or was practiced. But it is my view that not to vote is to give little or no thought to our ancestors who fought long and hard for our enfranchisement. People all around the world are giving their lives for the right to vote. We are told by the pundits, that that the low turn out of voters is because of the apathy of the general public, especially the young, they could be right of course but I prefer to think the reason is that people think they can make no difference. But just think, we are supposed to be 60 million strong, I don’t know what percentage of those would be eligible to vote, but say it was 30 million, a usual low turn out would be in the order of 50 percent, but if all those that thought they would make no difference went along to the booths and made a protest vote on their forms, of course the papers would be called invalid but they would have to still be counted and that would be 15 million protest votes and no government would be able to ignore that, they would not be able to claim the people were apathetic then. So I think that every one should use their vote, if you can not agree with the views of any of the parties, go along and write a protest on your form. Remember people who do not vote have no right to criticise or protest.
    I don’t blame you for looking at other countries to live, if it wasn’t for a blip in my early years you could have been a
    Australian. But places like ‘The land of the free’ whose boast is that “anyone can be president” they forget to say only if they are protestant (there was one exception to the latter) white and rich!
    I don’t know much about Canada, but they are a little to close to the “Home of the Brave” for me.
    But wherever you chose if you become a citizen of that country you will be asked to vote, if you chose Australia you have to vote there it is the law. But I do hope you and your friends stay in this country because with all its faults it is still the best country in the world and it needs thinking people like you and your like minded friends. GD

  9. MWF posted 10 days, 22hrs, 21mins after the entry and said:

    On the topic of imigrants and asylum seekers you have to look at it on a worldwide scale and not just the UK. The only reason we have this problem is because other European countries will not share the burden. The direction of imigration is a lot like water flooding down a hill of terraced houses. If you lived part way down the hill would you let the water cascade down to those below or would you flood your own house to protect those below you? I would completely ashamed if, as a country, we didn’t take care of those unfortunate to be born in a far worse position. I am happy to pay for asylum seekers that are seeking a better oppotunity in life.

    However those who are born in this country, who feel they are owed a job, who work the benefit system to avoid contribution, who steal what they cannot afford and then complain when people fee from other countries to do the jobs they refuse to do, these people can be thrown into the sea for I care. Sadly I know that is imoral, and I also understand that not throwing money at these people will only make them more of a problem for the rest of us. The problem is that as a country there seems to be a complete lack of dignity on the part of some. How anyone can happily scrounge from the majority, knowingly, I cannot understand.

    I also think that the sinking ship mentality will always prevail. Just think how the residents of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and France would feel if we all landed on their doorstep? More houses, more people, more demand for jobs, more pollution… It’s all very well saying how we want to earn a living but isn’t the boot suddenly on the other foot? Imagine being told you aren’t welcome, having most of the public hate you. Imagine you aren’t even allowed in and those nice tax breaks and cushy lifestyles cannot be yours, now imagine those tax breaks are repression and those lifestyles dreams are just a roof over your head and you can sample the life of an asylum seeker.

  10. Matt Wilcox posted 11 days, 2hrs, 4mins after the entry and said:

    I was wondering if/when we would get your input on this GD. smiley icon: smile Interesting read.

    Chris - I agree with a lot of what you say. As I already mentioned with regard to the immigrant discussion; it’s not that I don’t want to help those that need it, it’s that I don’t want to over-stretch ourselves trying to do too much. There’s no point trying to help too many people, because then it will end up being -us- that need help when our infrastructure and social/economic systems buckle under the weight. Help in moderation is the best help for everyone. So yes, I agree wholeheartedly, I would be ashamed if Britain didn’t help those that need it, and I’m proud that we help as much as we have. I also agree that if the rest of Europe shared more of the burden -everyone- would be better off. As it stands however I feel that we’re in danger of crippling ourselves because we’re over-doing it. Then we’re no help to anyone.
    I’d also agree with the mentality of throwing the types of people you mentioned right out the country - that’s my gut reaction. Of course that wouldn’t be practicable, nor would it really be moral.

    The sinking ship mentality will prevail over what? Will prevail for whom? I think the idea that any version of events is likely to prevail over any other version is somewhat pointless. On an issue like this it’s a viewpoint and decision down to the individual. How they see the situation is simply their assessment of that situation - not the -actual- reality of the situation. Life and decision making is full of choices which are made either because you jump for the carrot being dangled in front of you, or you run from the bush fire burning behind you. Both could be true at the same time, both might result in the same action and the same outcome. So was the person more right to jump because of the carrot or because of the fire? In the end it doesn’t matter.
    The idea here is to consider your options, not to cling to one way of looking at things. I think Britain is still on the downward curve of it’s ‘greatness’. No big deal really - I could live here very happily if that’s what I decide, but I have one life and one chance to live it, so I might as well make sure I do my best to live it in the best way, places and manner possible.

    As for how other countries might feel if they suffered mass immigration: France is already starting to show racial hatred against Britons who are snapping up cheap housing in Brittany. The difference there is that the French will do something about it when they see their own interests suffering to too great an extent. Britain receives far more immigrants and most British people would not react how the French have. It’s the French mentality to look after themselves that I respect, especially as it seems to be lacking in ourselfs, for whatever reason.
    I also feel that your comparison is not entirely on the level, there is a difference in the -type- of immigrant, which is an important factor.
    If I want to emigrate to Australia or Canada I have to prove I am a benefit to their society. I have to be employable in certain areas they set out. I will be assessed for suitability. Britain does not do these things to a similar extent, and proportionally we allow many more immigrants into the country who simply got in a boat and rowed over than do places such as Australia and Canada. These types of immigrant have a far lesser likelihood of offering a benefit to their adopted society. Australia and Canada have far tougher policies which safeguard against the possibility of social and economic unbalance from immigration.

    I am aware of the plight of asylum seekers, and I empathise, but that empathy will not and does not result in an automatic feeling that I should offer aid. I will not cut off my own arm to help someone get to their feet, that’s as irrisponsible as not helping anyone at all. Balance is the key. British policy is in grave danger of falling out of that balance.

  11. MWF posted 13 days, 21hrs, 38mins after the entry and said:

    The thing is Jimi. You look at imigrants as a strain on resources and that isn’t always the case. Imigration is an industry within itself. Many jobs are in imigratiom, many businesses do trade in imigration and imigrants generally pay their way. If anything imigrants help reduce job gluts in areas a lot of UK residents refuse to work. Plus imigrants have an entirely different attitude to work than us Brits. Just look at how many non native UK citizens are now wealthy businessmen having started in corner shops and invisioning their future in a more realistic way, because they view opotunites as freedom and not as a god given right.

    Our lack of resources are are down to our own foolish greed for more at less cost. If we didn’t demand everything to be cheaper then so many of our industries would never have moved abroad. Those jobs will still be there. But as consumers we don’t care, we just see it as saving money.

    It’s all very well saying that you have to prove you are a benefit to the work force of Australia or Canada but how would you feel, and it is very likely, if they were to reject your application? Could you handle being told that in fact you aren’t considered worth having? I know of plenty who have had that shock. However, my point is that should you ‘get in’ then I doubt your feelings would change. You would soon feel invaded by anyone else who follows your path, your anxieties will simply move to other areas. And rather than feeling angered that chavs kicked in the local telephone box you will become obsessed with how the family down the road never prune their trees. It sounds daft but it’s human nature.

  12. Matt Wilcox posted 13 days, 21hrs, 49mins after the entry and said:

    How I would feel if I were rejected is irrelivent. Emigration for me at this point is no set dream, it’s an exploration of possibilities.

    I’m not writing any more on things mentioned in this entry because the scope is limitless, but I’d be happy to talk over a pint if the topic ever comes up.

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