Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Apathy, Who Cares?

First of all an announcement-My computer is playing up and I can only log on sporadically so posting may be scarce for the next few days (or my computer may completely recover).

Looking at the interest the US election has provoked over here has led many people to suggest that it puts the apathy and disinterest in Britain's own elections to shame. To some extent this is correct but there are two things to consider. Firstly is apathy really such a terrible thing, after all if you are asking 15 million people to accept that none of the people they voted for will run anything simply because 15 million and one people voted for the other lot then sure a certain degree of apathy is a good thing! I'm guessing that voters in Pakistan and Kenya aren't apathetic either.

Secondly to the extent that voters in the UK are apathetic it is because of the vast concentration of power in a few hands. Local elections don't matter much as most local services are run by Quangos or central Government. European Elections are a travesty with a grossly unrepresentitive electoral system that protects party insiders. In Europe power resides with the unelected commission anyway and there are no steps that I as a voter could take to attempt to change the President of the European Commission. This leaves Westminster elections, where I can influence the process with my vote (I live in a swing constituency). Even then the candidates are selected by a small group of activists whose decisions may be overruled on a whim from the headquarters.

Of course this process isn't going to engage voters as it is designed not to, because if voters actually got involved in making decisions then the party elites would lose the stranglehold they currently have on the democratic process.