Democracy is not working
PUBLISHED: 13:25 18 December 2008 | UPDATED: 10:12 10 June 2010
I read Ann Prior s letter to the Journal with interest. She thinks people should get involved. This is what we hear from community activists and politicians over and over again. She thinks people don t get involved because they don t give a damn .
I read Ann Prior's letter to the Journal with interest.
She thinks people should get involved. This is what we hear from community activists and politicians over and over again. She thinks people don't get involved because they 'don't give a damn'.
I take another view. I think the reason people don't vote - the reason they don't get involved - is that they know their vote makes no difference whatsoever. They've had that proved to them over and over again. The task of the politician is the somewhat absurd one of making sure that people participate in a democracy that everyone knows is actually radically anti-democratic.
We've known that for sure since the Iraq war. Sure, politicians need people to participate because otherwise there is no authorisation for their power. But people understand, I think, that it's no longer just saloon-bar cynicism when we say that democracy is not worth the name.
They see two Unlocking Exmouth consultations and 11,000 signatures on the petition go by the board. They conclude that the Asda must be a done deal. How else are they to explain the fact that they have rejected the supermarket on the Exe plan twice and yet they still find it, substantially unchanged, presented before them as though the consultations had never happened? Once again, here is EDDC leader Sara Randall Johnson rising like Glenn Close out of that bath in Fatal Attraction. The people of Exmouth have tried to kill this misbegotten, ill-conceived, despised and undemocratic plan and it will not die. In return for their willing participation they have been ignored and then been forced to watch as their money has been spent on another even more expensive tide of advertising, PR mindbarf and greenwashed spin. They have been forced to pay for flim flam and folderol and waffle designed to change their opinion on a subject about which they have already made up their minds. They are paying for elected coumcillors who refuse to represent them.
They see our MP, who they elected, utterly failing to give any leadership on this issue, sitting on the fence, refusing to represent the wishes of the people who elected him.
They conclude the Asda consultation is a farce staged to create the appearance of consultation. They think the whole thing has been agreed behind closed doors.
It's not that they are too lazy to use their democratic vote that people threw themselves under racehorses to gain.
It's not that they have turned their back on the privilege of living in a free society. It's that they're in total despair. It's that they think that what they want doesn't matter.
And when you look at the evidence: they're right aren't they?
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