07 April 2010

General Election 2010 - Heaven Help Us!

So the General Election has been set.  Now what are we going to do?

Seriously, I think the British public faces an incredibly enormous problem.  Our politicians have shot themselves in the foot, to put it mildly, over recent months.  The expenses scandal, as a result of which several MPs are being prosecuted, and the 'Taxi for Hire' scandal have all but demolished any confidence we had in our elected representatives.  The simpering manner in which the government has handed great wads of taxpayers money to bankers so they can continue living in luxury and claim fat bonuses while the rest of us wrestle with the hardships of the recession, if it does not make us vomit, gives us serious indigestion.  We can be forgiven for thinking that our MPs are a bunch of self-seeking charlatans who seek office for their own ends and have little, if any, interest in the common man.  Why on earth do they think we would want to re-elect them to govern us?

In my view, there could not be a worse time to have an election.  Goodness knows we need one.  Something has to change but do any of the parties have the wherewithal to get our great United Kingdom back on its feet?  What are we looking for?
  • We want to be able to place genuine confidence and trust in honest government.
  • We want our elected representatives to represent us, not their ideologies.
  • We want them to be committed to the issues that concern us, not to lining their own pockets.
  • We want them to achieve results, not just make promises.  
  • We want them to understand that they are our servants not we theirs.
There are specific issues that bother us, and which never seem to get sorted out properly; things like (illegal) immigration, education and health.  Those of us who pay our way in life do not want to find ourselves penalised in our final years compared with those who have lived on hand-outs all their lives.  There are other issues, of course, which unfortunately do not press themselves upon us but which need stamping out: sex-trafficking, climate change and global poverty, for example.  We would also like to know that our leaders are competent at dealing with weightier matters of state like foreign policy: we don't want to be puppets of the USA, Mr Blair, or walked all over by the great hob-nailed boots of the European Union.  While we value enormously those who dedicate themselves to serve our country in its defence, we don't really want them sent to foreign lands to die for want of adequate equipment.

The problem with elections is that we are not really given chance to say what we want.  We are given at best the choice of what politicians want to give us, at worst the chance to decide the outcome of a popularity contest.  Labour wants us to believe they are the best party to lead us out of recession and, since they presided over the slide into the mess we are in, perhaps they are the ones who best understand it.  The Conservatives are going on about a stronger society; it sounds different, at least, perhaps even hopeful, but wasn't it Margaret Thatcher who said there was no such thing as society?  The Lib Dems go on sounding sensible, if a little wishy-washy, but no-one believes they have the experience to run the country; look at those who do have the experience and ask if it helped...  Well, they all have a month to impress and convince us, and, boy, do they have their work cut out.  I, for one, have no confidence in any of them, and seriously wonder whom to vote for and if it's worth bothering. 

Some warn that a hung parliament may result from a poor turn-out in the election and that this is a bad thing for the UK.  Is it really a bad thing?  Parties would have to work together to get things done, and what they do would have to be balanced and reasonable.  Plenty of coalition governments exist in Europe and seem to work without too much difficulty.  Is it not much more dangerous to give one party an insurmountable majority?

Whichever of them wins, they had better come up with the goods...

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