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Do we care about party politics?

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Mark Easton | 16:23 UK time, Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Bag of lettuceDemocracy? Lettuce? Instant ready-meals? What do we really care about? According to today's British Attitudes Survey, a fifth of the British population is "very concerned" about the gases in bags of salad leaves. A third of people are worried about eating food cooked in a microwave.

Elsewhere in the report it is revealed that almost half the population appears indifferent about voting in a general election.

Having looked more closely at the survey data on people's political allegiances, one can see how party tribalism is fast disappearing from the election landscape.

The BSA survey asks people this question: "Generally speaking, do you think of yourself as a supporter of any one political party?"

This is how the respondents answered in the run-up to elections since 1987:

table showing the proportion of people who said they support one party

The pollsters identify a group who they describe as having "no party identification". These are people who feel no affinity to any political party and, asked which one they'd vote for in an election, replied "none of them".

Table showing the proportion of people who don't support a party

The survey also attempts to test just how deep party loyalties run among those who say they still support or lean towards one particular party:

Table showing the strength of people's support for one party

So, a quarter of the population don't like any of the parties - and of the remainder, almost eight out of 10 are not that bothered. Put another way, only one in six of the electorate feels strongly about any political party.

No wonder voting rates have fallen so dramatically. A decade ago, two-thirds of those surveyed said they thought it was everyone's duty to vote. Now the figure has fallen to 56%.

Is this because Britons are too self-absorbed to understand the importance of participating in a democratic election? Have they forgotten the sacrifices their forefathers made to win that right? Or is it a rational response when faced with contenders for government whose policies and rhetoric look and sound to them almost identical?

British politics is no longer the tribal battleground it once was. Election campaigns have become so sophisticated that parties crowd together on the middle-ground and attempt to neutralise any suggestion they harbour dangerous, radical ideas.

Reading their manifestos may, for many, amount to a spot-the-difference competition. There will be variation, of course. But to many voters the candidates will appear to be arguing about arcane distinctions of emphasis - tweaks to a government machine that will continue to run pretty much as it has done for decades.

One might argue that it is the "vision" that matters rather than getting obsessed about individual policy differences. In 2002 this is how Labour leader Tony Blair summed up his "vision" for the kind of government he wanted to lead:

"Out goes the Big State. In comes the Enabling State. Out goes a culture of benefits and entitlements. In comes a partnership of rights and responsibilities."

And here is how Conservative leader David Cameron described his vision" of government last year:

"Our alternative to big government is the big society... that way, we can create the opportunity for people to take responsibility."

It is hardly news to say that politics is more managerial than ideological these days. But one should not be surprised if, as a consequence, many potential voters offer a shrug and say "they are all the same". In the early 90s, just 8% of people said "it's not really worth voting". Now the figure has risen to 18%.

My guess is that, so long as the government of the day doesn't really screw up, that number will rise still further.

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  • 1. At 4:58pm on 26 Jan 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    I gave up on them a long while back under our current system of rule.
    On occasion I watch the parliament channel, they can all get jobs as comedians on the Dave channel after the election. Its so dull seeing the people who are meant to be doing the best for us spending more time on whimsical insults in front of the camera than actually sorting issues current to the day.
    Once of those cameras the appear on news speaking psychobabble and polystyrene promises which you know means this is not what we intend to do.


    Most of the prime time politicians I see on the telly I trust as much as the local heroin addict to keep to thier word.

    I hope this parlement is hung and stays that way. Policeys should be decided 'all party' and not just the current 'ruling party'.

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  • 2. At 5:11pm on 26 Jan 2010, Wyrdtimes wrote:

    Sounds to me like the population are actually waking up.

    First there's virtually no difference between the main parties. Second nearly all party members put party before country and constituent.

    Personally I think the second best thing that could happen to British politics would be to remove political parties completely. And for us to vote for either an individual with a (binding) manifesto commitment on various issues. Or better still to vote for an individual that will represent the views of her/his constituents via some form of direct democracy (changes in technology are going to make this possible in the very near future).

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  • 3. At 5:11pm on 26 Jan 2010, Dave wrote:

    "Have they forgotten the sacrifices their forefathers made to win that right?"
    That gave us the RIGHT to vote. Doesn't mean we have to vote. I'm 35 and have only voted once (first time around for Tony Blair). I've never felt enough belief or connection with any one else before or since to justify casting my vote. However, my vote will be used during the next general election simply because I feel strongly enough that the our current PM shouldn't be where he is. So my vote is going to be used towards ousting someone as opposed to someone in.
    I think voting figures at the next general election could be interesting as I know several people who will be voting against Gordon Brown just to get him out. So numbers of voters may go up this next general election?

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  • 4. At 5:15pm on 26 Jan 2010, alloddsox wrote:

    I have voted all my adult life but I have to say that I have a dilemma coming up to the election. Gordon Brown will stop me from voting Labour but really there isn't a jot of difference between them. I used to be of the opinion that we all must vote, it is a democratic duty that we all have because it was hard won by our predecessors. However, on the ground, from the view of Joe Citizen, nothing ever changes. The bluster, the fibs and the fudges continue, we all bumble through and they all dance around each other like kids in a playground saying look at me people I just got one over on him ...ya boo sucks. He made a mistake and I pointed it out..what a clever boy/girl I am. Perhaps May 6th will be the first time I don't vote.

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  • 5. At 5:18pm on 26 Jan 2010, Henry Quimper wrote:

    I am surprised this excellent article makes no reference to Europe. The Westminster administration is emasculated by the laws made in Brussels. With no meaningful democratic control of what happens in Brussels, the room for manouvre of the British administration is very limited. I call it "administration" rather than "government" because they cannot meaningfully govern when large sections of the laws we operate by are outside their control. All they can do in these areas is administer European diktats.

    My view is that the people of this country have instinctively understood this and since UKIP has precious little support they are content with it. After all, both major parties in living memory have made a terrible mess of running the country and if Brussels will do it for us and get it right, no point in voting.

    I am at loss to understand why the Westminster village is so assiduously reported by our media when it is wildly irrelevant and Brussels is all but ignored. Do plots against Gordon Bean really matter? What we need to know is what the next imposition from Brussels is going to be and we get no reporting on that.

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  • 6. At 5:23pm on 26 Jan 2010, metaltoast wrote:

    The problem exists for many reasons:
    1. People (especially young people coming out of school) don't understand much about politics as it's not compulsory.
    2. All the parties are in it for the short-term (points scoring)
    3. The politicians who supposedly 'represent' us, hardly do. Most MPs are affiliated with a party (Labour, Conservatives etc) & so couldn't care two hoots about what the public think - as long as they do what their party whip tells them to, they're fine.

    A solution would be to introduce politics into compulsory PSHE lessons and, as has already been suggested, cross-party support for legislation so parties have to think in the long-term.

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  • 7. At 5:29pm on 26 Jan 2010, John Frewen-Lord wrote:

    So Blair said: ""Out goes the Big State. In comes the Enabling State. Out goes a culture of benefits and entitlements. In comes a partnership of rights and responsibilities."

    If there is one thing that Labour have done over the last 8 years, it is the VERY OPPOSITE of that statement. Which brings up an interesting question: Why did those who bought that rhetoric in 2002 still support Labour in 2005? And why do most of those still support Labour in 2010, when it is so obvious that Brown's type of government today (big state, benefits culture, etc) is so different from that promised 8 years ago?

    Is it that Labour supporters will always be labour supporters no matter what? The tables above show that only 17% very/fairly support one party in 2008. I really doubt that figure is true in 2010.

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  • 8. At 5:30pm on 26 Jan 2010, Beatsy wrote:

    Political parties are focussed on their own interests, not ours. They offer little that we *really* need anymore. Just more different shades of 'more of the same'.

    Modern technology and marketing techniques are deployed to the full, to achieve the party interest (getting into power and staying there). But all they end up doing is positioning themselves around the status quo.

    That's not leadership. That's not fixing the systemic problems we all know are there. It's just pandering to short term selfish interests.

    Any wonder that less people even care anymore?

    We are learning for ourselves that no politician can magically make life "better" for us. It is physically impossible to provide half what the politicians promise for "all". We know that.

    We must reset our aspirations in a big way, and get to grips with the ISSUES facing us, not the flippin' ideological POSITIONS.

    grrr

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  • 9. At 5:30pm on 26 Jan 2010, Bill1946 wrote:

    The two party system is not democratic, since the person elected represents less than 50% of the whole electorate. This is perpetuated by the political parties in order to maintain the capitalist dictatorship that we copy from America, and results in a small minority having all the wealth. This greed for power is also the cause of financial meltdown, inequality, and unrest thoughout the World. Without a more Social model being adopted, the electrate will become more, and more distanced from politics, and eventually it will collapse.

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  • 10. At 5:32pm on 26 Jan 2010, I-am-a-Number wrote:

    My major concern is that at the next election the turn out will be so low as to make a nonsense of the result.

    The expenses scandal has done considerable damage to the reputation of Parliament. The party leaders need to address this in a big way as the main issue. What do their policies matter if no one turns out to vote?

    The trouble is there are still various committees and enquiries with their own self important chairmen, and there are several MP prepared to challenge the judgements made against them. If the expenses issue is kept in the public's view right up to the election the turn out may be as low as for the European elections and the result a farce.

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  • 11. At 5:41pm on 26 Jan 2010, the_fatcat wrote:

    Is it any surprise people are not motivated to vote? We supposedly have 'one person, one vote', but that is a fallacy.

    With the 'first past the post' system we have in this country, unless you happen to vote for the 'winner' in your particular constituency your vote is completely wasted and your democratic view ignored. No wonder most people don't bother.

    Remember in the last two general elections more people voted against Labour than voted for them.

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  • 12. At 5:42pm on 26 Jan 2010, ByeByeBritain wrote:

    "Do we care about party politics?"

    No. And I think your data goes some way to showing that. Why? Because, I believe, people are not as stupid as politicians think they are. People have figured out that Britain's problems are now too entrenched and deep rooted to be solved by any political party. It's just not going to happen. It's now damage limitation. They know that whichever party is in, it's not going to have a significant impact on their lives - for the better at least.

    I think that may be less true at the extremes. So the very rich will want the Tories, and the state-dependent will most likely want Labour. But the masses of workers in the middle realize that the main parties won't drastically improve their lives, and in fact many will face declining services and disposable income - whichever party is elected.

    As a result I predict a surprise election victory for Labour. The state-dependent far outweigh the number of rich, so I think at the last moment, when people fear their state benefits might be taken away by the Tories, you will see a swing back to Labour. And don't forget that "state benefit" could mean a state funded job, or child benefit. When it comes down to the wire people will feel safer with Labour. Labour's master stroke has been to make the middle classes state-dependent (but not completely) too - how many women would find work doesn't pay without child benefit and child care tax credits? But you will also see the rise of parties like the BNP and possibly UKIP as people thrash about trying to find meaningful change.

    But coming back to the point, everyday life in Britain will only get harder, whichever party gets elected. I live in SE Asia mostly these days, and the quality of life is great. I figured out the only vote left worth having is to vote with your feet.

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  • 13. At 5:42pm on 26 Jan 2010, BeyondThePale wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 14. At 5:49pm on 26 Jan 2010, Paddington wrote:

    People have suffered and died in this country to earn us the vote, we should ALL use it, if only to spoil the ballot paper if you dislike the candidates so much.
    Poor choice should not be used as an excuse to be too lazy top go.

    People a suffering and dying in other countries for the vote. What chance have they got if we just take it so much for granted that we cannot be bothered.

    Maybe if the parties stopped trying to give the image they think we want to see, and just presented us with what they REALLY believe in, we would actually get a choice and more people would bother to vote.

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  • 15. At 5:55pm on 26 Jan 2010, GUNGHOBUNGADIER wrote:

    Party politics (Spin) has driven democracy out of Parliament. The Whips induce and bully MPs to support the "party line" no matter what the merits or demerits of the governments proposals, they have effectively scrapped the traditional checks and balances designed into our parliamentry system. Why ? because MPs have confused responsibility with power and of course would lose the "easy life" allowances given as a perk of the job. We no longer have a Parliamentry Democracy in the UK but a dictatorship elected by a minority. The UK system needs a radical overhaul. I wont bother voting except to get Labour OUT.

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  • 16. At 5:55pm on 26 Jan 2010, SoUnfair wrote:

    "In the early 90s, just 8% of people said "it's not really worth voting". Now the figure has risen to 18%."
    .
    This is not a surprise. People are not likely to bother to vote if it won't make any difference and in many cases sadly it won't.
    Take for example a local election where you decide to vote for a candidate because they agree with your view that a particular planning application is a hideous monstrosity that should never be allowed. Your candidate duly gets elected and opposes the planning application along with other members of the council. Indeed the planning application is rejected by a unanimous decision by the council. However, the developer simply ignores this rejection and appeals (note objectors don't have a right of appeal) and the planning application then gets passed by some unaccountable bureaucrat from the Planning Inspectorate. So it doesn't matter who you vote for as they can simply be overruled.

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  • 17. At 6:03pm on 26 Jan 2010, DisgustedOfMitcham2 wrote:

    "so long as the government of the day doesn't really screw up"

    That's a bit hypothetical, isn't it? How much more does the government need to screw up?

    I have absolutely no sympathy for people who say they can't be bothered to vote. It's true that there's not much to choose between the 2 main parties these days. The big ideological divides of the 1980s between left and right are nothing but history these days.

    But there is a great deal to choose between the 2 main parties and many of the smaller ones. Want to leave the EU? Better vote UKIP. Want an environmentally sustainable transport policy? Better vote Green.

    But one thing is for sure: there are plenty of issues that most people care about, some of which are even more important than bagged lettuce. Anyone who doesn't vote has absolutely no right to moan about any of them.

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  • 18. At 6:08pm on 26 Jan 2010, Brian Roffey wrote:

    I am not convinced that the bloated organisations which the political parties maintain serve any useful public purpose.
    Members of Parliament make a poor fist of conducting public business, as even the dullest wit can now observe on television. The pronouncements of politicians are all too often couched in adversarial rather than measured terms. The actions and motives of the other side are always ill conceived, even perverse, while their own are always well considered and beyond reproach. Debates are ill-informed, relying on predictable party attitudes to take the place of thoughtful reasoning.
    And it is undemocratic. How can it be that the succession of prime ministers should be decided in a café rather than at the hustings?
    Perhaps the two most significant developments in the last century were accession to the European Community and the influx of people from the Commonwealth and elsewhere, yet both went almost entirely without public debate on the part of our legislators. As a result, many ordinary voters feel left out of the decision making process.

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  • 19. At 6:10pm on 26 Jan 2010, mfederighi wrote:

    I think that a lessening of party tribalism doesn't necessarily lead to withdrawal from voting. I have never felt any allegiance to any party but I have voted in all elections but one since 1974. I simply vote for the party that at the time seems to have the policies that I like best. The thing that I dislike most in politicians is their tribalism - the idiotic pretence that their side is always right and the other side is always wrong.

    I also don't believe that all parties are similar - their manifestos may be similar, but their policies are not and their voting records in Parliament differ.

    I also think that our political world is fairly honest. If anything, there is too much emphasis on honesty and too little on competence: ministers get fired for "sleaze" or for lying, but hardly ever for incompetent management of their departments or for supporting policies that prove flawed.

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  • 20. At 6:41pm on 26 Jan 2010, RWWCardiff wrote:

    I have, in the past, assiduously voted in local and Welsh Assembly elections (where
    I get 2 votes - 1 for a local candidate and 1 for a party list) in every election, but I have
    not voted in a general election since 1992. The reason is obvious, Parliament is con-
    trolled by the party that wins the marginals, no wonder this is where all the camp-
    aigning is concentrated. This excludes me, so why should I participate?

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  • 21. At 7:15pm on 26 Jan 2010, Bill Griffiths wrote:

    Why should the results be surprising? We have followed the American political ethos for so long now that we are rapidly taking on their attributes.
    In America there is no ideological difference between the parties, merely geographical and sectional ones. This leaves a confused public who have no choice, if they vote, but to vote based on personality and/or how much one opponent has "slagged off" his opponent in the TV campaign. One must ask if this is the only way "democracy" works?
    What we, in Britain, will start seeing within the next few years are personality competitions and the disappearance of the party platform, it to be replaced with self-interest advertising throughout the media.
    Beware Britain, this is the early stages of the deconstruction of democratic politics.

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  • 22. At 8:23pm on 26 Jan 2010, _dark_crystal_ wrote:

    UKIP supports direct democracy. That means people can submit proposals and if a majority of the population supports them, they become law. I haven't heard any other party talk about it.

    So if you're unhappy about the way 'democracy' works in Britain, you could do worse than voting for UKIP.

    ByeByeBritain is spot on.

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  • 23. At 8:45pm on 26 Jan 2010, virtualsilverlady wrote:

    Politicians are the most mistrusted people in society today.

    Unfortunately we are stuck with a three party system that guarantees at least one of them will be able to gain power and run rough shod over the rest of us for a further five years.

    Having just watched a so called debate on another news channel between Mandelson and Clarke I felt as if I was watching the latest pantomime with the Jolly Boys. Mandelson doing his silly pantomime dame performance and Clarke trying to be the straight man. How after watching such a performance can anyone take them seriously.

    Blair with his million dollar tour when we are watching the biggest disaster unfold in front of our eyes with the Iraq enquiry.

    A pathetic 1% growth after biliions borrowed and printed supposedly to get us out of recession.

    Figures fiddled right left and centre to disguise what is really happening to the country just so we don't start a riot.

    Failing public services which will only get worse.

    No-one prepared to tell us what is really going on until after an election because we can't cope with the truth so they think.

    The people can no longer be put into a box where they support one or another of the parties. They are as bad as one another.

    We can only blame ourselves for being so disinterested in politics in the past and allowing this to happen. This has to change.

    If every parliamentary candidate was scrutined before voting day and the best candidate whether independant other party or whatever was voted for then things will change and this discredited system and those who are seeking to exploit it for their own ends could be gone for good.

    It is in our own hands.

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  • 24. At 8:49pm on 26 Jan 2010, jobsw32 wrote:

    The last 30 years seems to have been a bit like don't mind us we're just having a war. 1991 gulf 1 2001-2 gulf 2 2010 afghan and in the midst of it all ardent campaigning on child protection. how do I feel about it? Is it my wake up call? It all seems quite reactionary and incandescent and heavily focused on retribution and then we are trotting out to the polls wondering what we really want. It sounds like Justice vs liberty.




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  • 25. At 9:10pm on 26 Jan 2010, jobsw32 wrote:

    I think would rather make an effort to hold the pieces together than let it all fall apart. I'm happy with the proposals for reform of the financial services sector but other lofty policies such as education and policing I am not sure about either. I mean how do you know if someone is going to start messing with you? just a look in their eyes?

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  • 26. At 9:12pm on 26 Jan 2010, jobsw32 wrote:

    oh I don't know. we can't finesse it so we just slam the door on everyone?

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  • 27. At 9:19pm on 26 Jan 2010, Buck_Turgidson wrote:

    Modern democracy doesn't give you much of a choice, we've got a notional three party system that in practice is a two party system where the biggest difference between the two parties are the colours of their rosettes.

    These problems have been expressed quite well, but from an American perspective, you can see some clips of it here: http://www.southparkstudios.co.uk/guide/episode/808/


    englandrise makes some interesting points at #2 and although we're facing some big political challenges at the moment I'd still like to see some structural changes made to our democracy.
    Let's have a bit less representative democracy and a bit more direct democracy, this doesn't have to be constant referenda, maybe by reducing the power held by party whips, restricting who can make donations to political parties, establishing primary elections & proportional representation would be enough to break the dominance of the big three and allow a few new opinions to be heard at Westminster.

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  • 28. At 9:19pm on 26 Jan 2010, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    We need good shamans....incantations.....magic and praying for rain. Nothing else seems to be working. All those banking brains, supposedly deserving of high pay and bonuses, offer nothing toward solution of the problems they created, except the mantra of don't interfer with our scams. The politicans, having given the car thief the keys to the car, are at a loss as to how it was stolen. They both need to pull themselves up from their gutter and take some responsbilities for their actions...but that is not in their nature. Fair weather sailors..the rooms are full of them.

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  • 29. At 10:26pm on 26 Jan 2010, Angel_in_Transit wrote:

    Perhaps some of the comments listed here show how poor is the understanding of politics within party machines and supporter boundaries.

    An earlier entry talks of the "benefit culture", something both New Labour and Conservative are responsible for because of the shift away from full employment, with or without compounding from migrant issues. We see no hint of the social engineering engaged in, principally by Thatcher, in trying to shift the burden from community to the individual, which you touch on in an earlier piece.

    So the problem is not the voter it is the "party", especially when a "party" is prepared to ditch a huge percentage of the popular vote before a cross is written. We have seen boundary issues first by the Conservatives and then by New Labour trying to manipulate the picture to their advantage. We have witnessed "cash for questions", "cash for honours", "cash for expenses", and cash for the "popular" public services. We hear the propaganda about house prices, mortgages etc, when huge numbers do not own their homes.

    The media, increasingly middle class and comfortable, has no idea what is going on away from their eyes. They would far rather report on the UK's crumbling democracy than try to understand why it began to fall apart over twenty five years ago. Look at the images of our current "leaders" and begin to see why you shouldn't be seen out after dark with them. Now translate that into why no one thinks they have anyone worthwhile to vote for anymore.

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  • 30. At 11:21pm on 26 Jan 2010, Stargazer wrote:

    Fatcat (11), when was the last time that a party got 50%+1 of the national vote? Has any party EVER got 50%+1 of the electorate? Even Tony Blair in his 1997 wipeout was far from 50% of the share of votes.

    Don't forget that the Conservative landslides of the 1980s were also achieved with a vote just over 40% thanks to a split opposition.

    It's just a fact of our electoral system. And, incidentally, in an American presidential election, a 60% turn-out would be regarded as historic. It's not just Britain.

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  • 31. At 11:30pm on 26 Jan 2010, jobsw32 wrote:

    I have a vested interest in participating for my own good but the trouble is taking responsiblity for the interests of others. My concerns may not align very well with the concerns of others. I know what I want out of life but maybe I'm not quite as ambitious as people would expect of me. I don't like generating a lot of debate but you can't exactly lay down the law in a democracy when there are few limits on what you can achieve.

    Some people have done great things but I'm not really for trying to outdo each other I just want to get settled in life. The weather is fair or foul wherever you are in the heirarchy whether a voter or an executive.

    Dunno somehow people find me to be frustrating or vexatious in some way and it's not that I like being annoying or that I don't take things seriously I'm very concerned maybe too much about things that I ought not to be, but being unorthodox as to how you go about things can be alarming to people.

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  • 32. At 02:03am on 27 Jan 2010, BobRocket wrote:

    It is no great surprise at the apathy shown when election day comes around. We are offered candidates from the three main parties whose policies are so similar it is hard to get a cigarette paper between them and a couple of nut jobs who make up the numbers.

    To most people, a vote, any vote is just a wasted vote.

    Until we get None Of The Above as an option on the ballot paper as a way of saying 'I don't think any of the candidates are of the calibre to best represent me or my fellow constituents' then fewer and fewer people will bother.

    You could sign the petition to get NOTA on the ballot paper here and here

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  • 33. At 08:00am on 27 Jan 2010, rapidviking wrote:

    I have cared about party politics for45 years and have voted for one party during that time - I am at a crossroads and undecided for the next election. I am bitterly disappointed with last 30 years due to lost opportunities to create a more equal society - politicians do not seem to have the answer. equality is based around giving opportunities to all to develop and contribute to their own wellbeing. Politicians need to stop talking and act.

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  • 34. At 08:57am on 27 Jan 2010, jobsw32 wrote:

    everyone has been around these debates before atill it is a bit odd how we can make 2 plus 2 equal 5. What I find annoying about party politics are the assumptions that people make about my beliefs and the anger they have towards the beliefs of others.

    When I see a muslim I do not feel angry about them and I don't feel angry about their way of life but at the same time there are massive differences in my beliefs and theirs. In the past people have tried to say well focus on the common ground but there is none. The trouble is getting people behind the real work of ministry which is supposed to be releasing people from the persecution of religious extremists.


    You ought to be able to associate freely with whomever you wish and dress how you please and if you can't do that because of threats then it is the oppressor who is out of order.

    We know the bible says, 'a man will leave his mother and father and marry his wife and they will be one flesh' not that you need even be obliged to marry.

    The point is who or what is obstructing your ambitions and how are the ministries helping you the citizen to overcome them?

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  • 35. At 10:15am on 27 Jan 2010, slightlyallthetime wrote:

    Well I've been around for a few elections now,being eligible to vote since 1970,I've never voted and never will,I've never noticed any difference to the situation in the country,nothing ever changes regardless of what political party is elected,it's always some derivation of "as long as we keep selling things to each other,everythings going to be alright",it's a headlong plunge into oblivion with Capitalism as a huge pyramid selling scheme and the Earth as the "patsy".
    Political parties will say anything to get into power,once in power they become the tools of the corporate thugs and not the servants of the people who elected them,Capitalism has already collapsed but no one seems to be able to admit it,better that we'd let the banks fail and started from scratch,now we have a situation where the private sector banks are mostly owned by the public sector,but apparently we have no say in the bonuses they decide to award themselves,they're just a bunch of spoilt ex public schoolboys supported by another bunch of spoilt ex public schoolboys,neither of which have any real qualification for the job they are in,other than the fact that they went to the right school because Mummy and Daddy had a few quid.
    Also,lets not forget that if the Telegraph had not exposed these politicians as expense fiddlers,they'd still be doing it,they didn't voluntarily submit themselves to a scrutiny of their expenses.
    I'm glad I've never voted,I would feel a little dirty if I'd even considered voting for these self important,pompous,warmongering,drug pushing,expense fiddling reprobates.
    The next election is just around the corner,get ready to vote for what we've got already,why waste the fuel driving to to the polling station and why waste a precious few minutes of your life.

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  • 36. At 10:57am on 27 Jan 2010, thtone wrote:

    In the past every town had a thriving Labour club, a Conservative club and
    some had a Liberal club. Not anymore it seems: the voting public registered their disinterest years ago. Why else are the 'Parties'finding it difficult to raise funds?
    The question now is what is there to replace them before the whole democracy idea collapses?

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  • 37. At 12:16pm on 27 Jan 2010, stanblogger wrote:

    Clearly an important factor is that the only likely result of an election is either a Labour or a Tory government, and former supporters of Labour feel that the Labour party is no longer significantly to the left of the Tories and sometimes is to the right of the Liberal Democrats.

    This is the result of the UK electoral system because over two thirds of constituencies are safe seats for one party or the other. So these MPs know that they have a job for life provided they do not fall out with their parties. Parties know that only marginal seats are important, and indeed the result of a general election really only depends on how floating voters in marginal seats vote. As a result parties concentrate their efforts on winning the votes of this small group, tailoring their policies to appeal particularly to them.

    In less sophisticated days, the Labour Party concentrated on winning the votes working people and the intellectural left and the Tories on winning the votes of the comfortably off. So they had distinctive policies. But this is no longer the case.

    The electural system must be changed. Multi-member constuencies, without ordered party lists, should be introduced as well as transferable votes, as was introduced a few years ago in Scottish local elections.

    MPs will tell you that the single member system is wonderful because a member can really get to know a reasonably small constituency.

    It is wonderful for MPs, who because of a gentleman's agreement to keep out of each others constituency, do not have to compete with other MPs on their exclusive territory.

    But multi-member constituencies would be much better for voters, who would have more choice at elections, even between representatives of the same party, and could shop around when trying to find an MP willing to help with their personal problems or concerns.

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  • 38. At 1:07pm on 27 Jan 2010, WolfiePeters wrote:

    Democracy.

    In democracy, the electoral process produces an elected opposition as well as a government. In the process of maintaining democracy, the role of the opposition is as important, even more important than that of the government. All politicians love giving themselves more power and love their own ideas. The opposition is there to stop them going to excess and prompt them and us, when they miss the obvious.

    So, by all means use your vote to keep those you don't like out of government, but don't think the fact that your party cannot win nationally or locally means your vote is wasted. One way or another, it makes that group's voice bigger.

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  • 39. At 1:21pm on 27 Jan 2010, RonC wrote:

    Party politics is tribal, class based and archaic and each party change causes disruption and wastes considerable amount of tax payers money. It is also undemocratic and unrepresentative.

    Take the party whip, you may have voted for your MP because of their views etc but once in office if they want to keep their job then they will toe the party line. There are not many that stick their heads above the parapet which is how the government got their vote on Iraq.

    Now take the voting wards. If like me you live in party strong hold, it does not matter what you think, your vote is wasted. Unfortunately most people who vote have voted the same way for years as that is their class. Consequently, MP’s become lazy and complacent. I never hear about mine.

    Then we have the wealthy party donators who influence policies.

    The only way I can get my voice heard is to vote radical like the BNP, not because I agree with their policies or thinking but because I don’t agree with the other parties.

    The system has got to change and it will force change itself as the older generation die off and party fund slump due to lack of membership.

    The younger generations are not idiots and yet they are being forgotten and ignored, it will be them that force change.

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  • 40. At 1:22pm on 27 Jan 2010, calmandhope wrote:

    The thing that I noticed looking at those figues mark, is that the longer Labour have been in power it appears more voter apathy has come in. I wonder if you could dig back further to the times before when they were in power and see whether its just a coincidence that this time when they were in power, voter apathy goes up, or whether in periods of long government (of any party really) that it goes up.

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  • 41. At 1:22pm on 27 Jan 2010, DavidHankey wrote:

    For the first time in 40 years I feel it is highly unlikely that I will be voting for a political party. I will certainly go to the Polling Station but in all probability spoil my voting paper as a protest.

    In the constituency where I live we have an MP who was embrolied in the expenses/allowances scandal and has shown no contrition whatsoever. We have a Government who, over the past 13 years, have not really improved.

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  • 42. At 1:52pm on 27 Jan 2010, Mincepie Murderer wrote:

    As the various parties’ policies become more and more similar, apathy becomes the dominant factor among voters. Apathy takes many forms – can’t be bothered, they’re all the same anyway, my vote won’t make any difference, etc. It’s the voter’s right to be apathetic, after all.

    The trend for voters to not support one particular party is very encouraging. It shows that those who intend to vote are open to influence by the parties, rather than just taking the old “my dad voted X so I do too” line. In recent years, with the rise in support for the Lib Dems and all the other smaller parties, I’m sure a growing number of tactical votes have been cast.

    The fairest voting system is PR – where every vote cast actually counts, and tactical voting doesn’t exist.




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  • 43. At 2:08pm on 27 Jan 2010, Roger Anstey wrote:

    I have been a member of the Liberal/LibDem party since 1957 because of the Party 'social democratic' philosophy but sometimes have voted for members of other parties because I considered an alternative candidate to be more competent (and less Party political) than the LibDem Candidate.
    If voters voted for a person rather than 'The Party' we would get more accountability and better representation of our wishes than we get from representatives bullied by or hiding behind Party Whips (ie the Party 'apparatus')

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  • 44. At 2:12pm on 27 Jan 2010, Spiny Norman wrote:

    # 32. BobRocket

    Indeed, but it ain't gonna happen. Politicians would die rather than accept anything that would puncture their pomposity, and a "None of the Above" box would do just that.

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  • 45. At 4:09pm on 27 Jan 2010, jon112dk wrote:

    I think you have it with the point about clustering in the middle and trying to get votes from specific demographics.

    Targetting gay and lesbian 20-35 year olds in some obscure marginal is what it is all about today.

    Meanwhile the great majority find the policies intended to acheive that irrelevant.

    Never thought I would agree with Norman Tebbit (!) but I once heard him say that some party should stop targetting a few hundred people in obscure demographics, or a few thousand in the middle, and target the millions of ordinary people who don't vote anymore. Can't help wondering if he was right on that.

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  • 46. At 4:17pm on 27 Jan 2010, Peter Galbavy wrote:

    Self aggrandisment (MPs *still don't get it, about expenses), a sense of entitlement (ditto) and a culture of collective responsibility (no one is ever to blame) has resulted in voter apathy - the preception that they are all as bad as each other.

    Add to that a complete unwillingness to offend by proposing truly radical policies and a marketing machine that means people will be expected to vote based on how candidates look means we get US style "hairstyle" electioneering.

    I agree with the proposals to have a compulsory NOTA box, but I would also go futher and require a manifesto to be legally binding, just like a contract with appropriate safeguards against unexpected events and maybe a level of proportional representation. When that's all in place, make voting compulsory. Participate or don't be a citizen.

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  • 47. At 8:31pm on 27 Jan 2010, outofstep wrote:

    Apathy is reprehensible. A large part of the population seems to not regard it as a duty of grown-ups to take an interest in their own government. Yes it requires the exercise of study and concentration. It is far easier to turn on the TV and achieve oblivion. And then grumble about the fine mess we find ourselves in...

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  • 48. At 9:22pm on 27 Jan 2010, ethics_gradient wrote:

    Isn't it sad that this country, famed for its parliamentary democracy that has been copied many times around the world (albeit exported by our forebears), is in such a position that it's population simply can't be bothered to vote? Isn't it sad that the current political structure that has served us well for so long has been so degraded by its incumbents that the average Brit simply won't get up and vote on polling day?
    Isn't it time that those that serve the British people, actually SERVE the British people and not themselves? Our recent experience of the 'expenses' that our politicians have claimed, and the almost shameless lack of embarrassment displayed by most of those that had been 'erronous' has simply further tarnished their reputations and is another spur for our young voters simply not to. Whilst its not that simply cut-and-dried, is there any other company in the country where, if you are found to have fiddled your expenses, you'd keep your job? So why is it acceptable at Westminster? Our government should be afraid of our power to vote, but due to apathy, our vote has become irrelevant to them. This has fuelled the confidence of our political parties: they are an establishment that has tenure, and with our politicians constantly prevaricating, shirking responsibility and scoring points against each other in order to keep their jobs, the difference between the parties as become blurred. This suits the political parties: by making themselves a 'beige mass' fighting for an ever-decreasing centre ground, they can confuse matters more. Politicians are human, and therefore they will make mistakes. What we shouldn't accept, or be swayed by, is when they can't or won't accept that they make mistakes or when others say they could do better in hindsight.
    Ironically, across the world we've seen images of smiling individuals, index finger black with ink, proud to vote: despite tyranny, despite personal threats of retribution, poverty and distance.
    It is not a duty to vote, but it is a right, and a privilege to do so.

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  • 49. At 01:50am on 28 Jan 2010, BobRocket wrote:

    #44 Spiny Norman

    I appreciate what you are saying but we have to be polite and in the first instance we have to ask.

    When we are ignored or dismissed (which no doubt we will be) then a campaign to write 'None Of The Above' on the ballot paper will be run, sadly these ballot papers will be classed as spoilt by the authorities but using the Freedom of Information Act it should be possible to reveal the numbers in each constituency spoiling their papers in this way.

    When the number of 'None Of The Above' papers is higher than the winning candidate has polled it will remove his/her moral authority to act in the interests of the constituents.
    (it is an overwhelming vote of no-confidence)

    This is after all a Democracy.

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  • 50. At 10:26am on 28 Jan 2010, freindleonewhocares wrote:

    No wonder these figures are falling as none of the main parties listen to the voters real concerns anymore,because these issues are too hot for these spineless politicians to handle,ie:immigration,pandering to minorities,real law and order,bankers fiasco,real poverty here at home,jobs for those who belong from the beginning in Britain,the list goes on.

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  • 51. At 10:36am on 28 Jan 2010, X_Sticks wrote:

    "Why do so few of us care about political parties?"
    Because they are full of politicians, and whatever lot you vote for you will get the government.
    Only a radical overhaul of the British political system will make any difference. Otherwise we carry on as we are until the revolution.

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  • 52. At 11:09am on 28 Jan 2010, johnwilkes wrote:

    When there is an English Parliament to vote for and I am given the same say in the running of this country as the Scots and Welsh, I will start voting again.

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  • 53. At 12:09pm on 28 Jan 2010, simon oakden wrote:

    Since we are slowly being subsumed by the European Union by our indifference to politics our own system of government is almost irrelevant. The Lisbon Treaty has been ratified by this government without allowing the people a chance to vote in a referendum. The only party who actively campaign for withdrawal from the EU is the United Kingdom Independence Party. Those who tell us it would be economical suicide for us to leave the EU are simply engendering fear amongst us. How is it that the Swiss model manages to survive without the need to join the EU? This country has all but ceded our sovereignty to the EU but did we enter the Common Market for this to happen? Please look at EUTRUTH to find out just how the Lisbon Treaty will affect us in the future. We are being ill served by our politicians and they feed on our apathy. People get active!

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  • 54. At 12:17pm on 28 Jan 2010, ThoughtCrime wrote:


    Firstly our forefathers fought for us to have the right to vote, not the obligation to vote.

    Secondly the way the voting system is structured disenfranchises a huge section of the population at a stroke. What's the point in voting Tory in a Labour stronghold, or voting Labour in a Tory stronghold? Where I live it's always a run-off between the Lib Dems and the Tories - a vote for Labour is a wasted vote (and that's based on the structure, not my views on the Labour party)

    Then look at how many people would like to support a minor party but don't feel they can expend their vote that way. In my area it's a run-off between the Lib Dem and the Tory (and it's often been very close) so to vote for anybody else means I sacrifice my preference in the real race.

    If politicians actually cared about what we think we'd have a single transferable vote, so we could register our preference for a minor party but if they were knocked out we'd still count a vote for a major party. It would be very interesting to see how much support the so-called minor parties enjoy if people could vote for them without feeling they were wasting their vote, and could provide a necessary kick in the proverbials to the candidates from the major parties.

    I can't see any of this happening, as a blog I like to read refers to the US political system as the republicorps and democorps, so we have the appearance of multiple parties but they are all in hock to corporate interests one way or the other.

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  • 55. At 12:24pm on 28 Jan 2010, intbel wrote:

    Those who do care, those who have any integrity, will not vote for a government of no integrity and in not voting it is assumed they are apathetic.

    I really do think voting should be made compulsory so that we who value integrity will be heard.

    A 30% or higher vote for "None of the above" would give a clearer picture, would it not?

    And a very powerful message ...

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  • 56. At 12:31pm on 28 Jan 2010, Curlyputt wrote:

    You cannot vote for what you believe in in this country - minority parties get no representation under our voting system. I am bound to be apathetic if I don't subscribe to the views of the main parties. I think they have both brought this country to its knees over the past 50 years, why should I have to vote for either of them? We will never get rid of them without constitutional reform to bring in other ideas to the government.

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  • 57. At 2:09pm on 28 Jan 2010, AlphaPhantom wrote:

    Well it's nice to see a blog like this. However, a couple of things to point out, age ranges of those surveyed would be a nice addition out of curiosity and a statistic on reasons out of those that do vote why they vote.

    I certainly didn't grow up on politics, i wasn't the youngster that got involved or engaged, it really wasn't something that did much for me. I'm currently 27 years old (yeah fine, I admitted my age) and it was only when i was about 16 that i started to pay more attention to olitics as i was getting nearer to voting age and events in my life caused me to be more concerned with those in power in this country. I saw what the Conservatives had done to my family when they ended their reign and in part it was also my family around me that influenced my decision making. I voted for New Labour for Tony Blair's 2nd term as PM in 2001. It was probably about the middle of that term when i gave up on it all. Therefore, in my attempts to engage in politics and attempt to use my vote to vote for people i thought could represent the people i soon learned how wrong i was. For a government that made so many promises, the years continued and i saw nothing really change, i quickly gave up. All i can see is self absorbed MPs who treat Parliament more like a play ground than a place of discussion and debate about running this country.

    Like you pointed out, they all end up coming out with the same words time and time again as if there's no meaning in what they say. They'd be better off using a recorder and play the same messages all the time for generations to come and it could probably still be compared with what those of the day are saying with few differences.

    However, I still continue to vote. I'm a firm believer of "If you don't vote you can't complain" so instead of voting for someone that represents me as none of the candidates ever will i use my vote tactically to ensure that the person i don't want elected has a better chance of losing.

    I certainly have no party allegiance, I see individuals and not parties. I saw Ian Duncan Smith as a guy worth voting for until he got assassinated, did i get a say in the matter....no. However, not much i can do about it. Now, I don't really see the point in any of the potential candidates, Gordon, Nick and David all seem to lack substance in my opinion. What concerns me is how everyone sees the financial state of this country and what is to be done about it and on this note, Vince Cable would have the greatest amount of my trust in taking action to sort this mess out. However, I can't vote for Vince, the best hope i'd have is to vote for the Lib Dems but what good is a vote for the Lib Dems in the First Past the Post system. I don't particularly want David in charge but I expect he will be, I don't think much of George being our new Chancellor but that will probably happen and all I can do is cast my vote for those i definitely don't want in power.

    That would be Gordon, in turn that would be Labour. As much as i don't like the logic, the best chance of standing to defeat Labour is really to vote for the Conservatives since our country, whether we like it or not is seen more as a 2 party state. Therefore, my vote will probably end up for the Conservatives because that is the best way i can think to send my message to Labour and their bunch of hopeless inepts who are our government.

    Personally, Labour should be thrown in the trash and then we should have a hung parliament to force inter-party discussion and debate. No one party should have the power to decide things alone, especially when the PM is calling the shots in a party that has a majority. It's effectively a dictatorship, which is often how i see this country these days.

    New Labour have been in power for far too long, they've done nothing to help this country and have only made promises they haven't kept and not ended boom and bust by bringing us back in to the deepest recession we've been through for decades.

    As much as parties and politics are the same among them all, as you put it with your "as long as they don't screw up" remark. This government has screwed up and have turned their backs on the values of their parties. As you also said, there used to be a time when the values of the party mattered by standing for their beliefs in those values and letting the electorate decide if those values are what they relate to. Now, all we have are greedy politicians who care more about gaining power and influence through their position as an MP and therefore, the only priority comes down to winning at all costs. The best way to win is to appeal to as many people as possible and in doing so the only way to compete is for every party to move to the middle ground and in the end all we end up with is noise and squabbling in the middle, which is stupid, childish and pointless while making it very hard for the elctorate to truly hear one voice above the others. Instead, all the voices are mish mashed together to create and inaudible noise that nobody wants to listen to.

    Again, a great blog for our times. MPs have forgotten the founding principles of our democracy and one day the people will more than likely start a new reolution to take the powers out of their hands and put it in its rightful place - with the people who deserve to weild it, and that is certainly not the MPs in today's world.

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  • 58. At 3:51pm on 28 Jan 2010, RonC wrote:

    This has probably been one of the best blogs on the subject of British Politics and it is interesting to detect a couple of common views, which is politics in this country does nothing for us as a nation and those involved simply can not be trusted.

    As I have already pointed out I believe the system is archaic, undemocratic and unrepresentative, and because of the Eloi way in which many people vote when the Morlocks sound their election siren then many peoples votes are totally wasted or at best show that one or two people are disgruntled in a safe ward.

    Why do you think that some of the favoured few close to the parties power leaders are given safe seats when they live miles away from that area, and why is it at the last election Stoke on Trent saw nothing of the election campaign? Why because it wasn’t worth the effort, the area is Labour!

    Then of course we have the demographic bias that is applied to election policies.

    I think most people will agree that if you set a future course for a country, a goal which people buy into, then everyone will be dragged behind and benefit as the country itself grows, a bit like a teenager planning their future. Yes, of course we need to make a few alterations to that course to avoid the odd iceberg but the course is set and the crew all work towards a common goal.

    Unfortunately, party politics does not work like that, it is about getting into power and the way to do that is to fight the marginal seats, and to win those you have to promise what those marginal voters want to hear and that in itself will change every five years as they themselves grow older and their circumstances change.

    This is where the backroom people come in, analysing age groups, families and school or hospital requirements and polices are massaged to suit, and sadly people get sold on them and forget about the future next 5, 10 or 15 years.

    I have been voting for 40 years and at every election I was puzzled as to why I was being promised exactly the same as the previous election and a decade ago I realised it was because they never actually achieved their promises.

    One such promise is to target long-term unemployment and people dependent on benefits. In fact, check out Peter Lilley’s comical ‘I have a little list’ speech. Did they make it happen, has anyone else made it happen?

    If I failed to perform as often as our politicians I would have been sacked years ago yet we continue to support the system.

    Can it be improved, yes I believe it can and must if we are to drag this country out of its current state and it will be people power that will do that not a handful of politicians scratching each other’s backs.

    As for voting, yes I will vote but definitely not the three main parties, and as for spoiling your paper let me advise you it doesn’t work, it is not counted in the turn out figures. I know, I have done that at the last two elections.

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  • 59. At 6:33pm on 28 Jan 2010, William1260 wrote:

    How many of you study Politics? How many of you know any more than you are told in the media? Studies show that the greater the partisan rate is in a country, the more efficient the Government is.

    Secondly how many of you actually know a politician in person? Whilst some are misguided, some are dishonest and some have ran out of ideas, the majority really do want to improve the lives of all of us and to run the country in a better way than it is currently being done. They are also often highly intelligent and are only constrained by what the public will/will not accept.

    Thirdly, how many of you understand anything about the other political systems trotted out when people attack our own system? If you have coalition Government, and you think the government has run out of steam, how do you get rid of it? You cant, the process of coalition Government is an elite driven process between political leaders.

    As has been shown over the course of the last govenment, constitutional vandalism has had few positive outcomes. Our system has remained intact and evolved over 1000 years, why would you want to change something that has avoided most of the negatives to befall foreign systems such as extreamism, massive discrimination and totalitarianism. Things should always evolove but we should be suspicious of anyone who thinks they have a new blueprint to solve our problems.

    Lastly the majority of the voters hold views of the centre ground, that means the party closest to the centre wins, therefore can you expect them to do anything different? People say the parties have the same goal in mind, but whats the alternative, someone saying they dont like prosperity, education or the NHS? Process matters and how we achieve these goals matters, thats the choice between the parties.

    Its our duty to vote, its our duty to understand and we get the politics we deserve!

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  • 60. At 00:44am on 29 Jan 2010, EdwinaTS wrote:

    Policy wise, the main political parties are similar, so elections should concentrate on candidate quality and the provision of information about candidates.

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  • 61. At 08:12am on 29 Jan 2010, Diabloandco wrote:

    What would happen if " None of the Above" won an election?
    Just asking!

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  • 62. At 11:56am on 29 Jan 2010, Peter Warwick wrote:

    59. At 6:33pm on 28 Jan 2010, William1260 wrote:
    How many of you study Politics? How many of you know any more than you are told in the media?

    I study politics, and I think your absolutely right.
    Notice that ALL of these comments above declare what is wrong with politicians, but no one has actually given any direct or substantial advice as to what they should do.

    Have you all considered why the main parties are so similar?
    Because the core vote out there want certain things, do you honestly expect a party to stand up and declare that they don't support growth to the NHS and Education, that they won't be adding more policemen to the streets, E.C.T

    You all ask for more direct democracy, many of you suggest proportional representation, thinking that it will be more democratic.

    It will just mean that all parties will be making shady back hand deals in order to get diluted half-formed legislation through.
    Its very typical, you all grumble and complain about what is wrong with the politicians but none of you express a common desire with what you DO want...

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  • 63. At 12:47pm on 29 Jan 2010, DisgustedOfMitcham2 wrote:

    41. At 1:22pm on 27 Jan 2010, DavidHankey wrote:

    "For the first time in 40 years I feel it is highly unlikely that I will be voting for a political party. I will certainly go to the Polling Station but in all probability spoil my voting paper as a protest.

    In the constituency where I live we have an MP who was embrolied in the expenses/allowances scandal and has shown no contrition whatsoever. We have a Government who, over the past 13 years, have not really improved."

    Sounds like you're not particularly impressed with your MP, and no doubt with very good reason.

    If you want to do anything about it, you need to vote for one of the other candidates. If you just go and spoil your ballot paper, the effect will be exactly the same as if you hadn't voted. You will still have absolutely no right to moan about your MP.

    Some have asked what would happen if more people spoiled their ballot papers than voted for the winning candidate. The answer is simple. The winning candidate would still get in, and if you think that he or she would care about technically coming in second place, then you're deluded. As long as they get to claim their expenses, they'll be quite happy enough.

    The only way to get rid of the useless politicians we have is to vote for different ones.

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  • 64. At 8:31pm on 29 Jan 2010, Natalie wrote:

    I believe it's important to vote. The parties may sound similar but I think their core values are very different. I have worked in the NHS since 1984 and seen many changes, some for the worse and many for the better. My parents told me what healthcare was like before 1948, I wouldn't want us to go back to those days; would you?
    I work with colleagues from the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka; where private healthcare dominates...........it's a scary prospect! If you don't think the Conservatives are scary,,,,,,,,,,then think again!

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  • 65. At 8:58pm on 29 Jan 2010, Rob wrote:

    "so long as the government of the day doesn't really screw up". Hmm. Isn't that what they've just done?

    "It's the deficit, stupid"

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  • 66. At 9:05pm on 29 Jan 2010, freespeechoneeach wrote:

    http://www.parliament.uk/commons/lib/research/rp2005/RP05-033.pdf

    Look at p. 61 of the official report on the 2005 election.
    It shows that low turnouts and Labour seats go hand- in- hand.
    I think Labour have been deliberately trying to suppress voter turnouts for years, because they see an advantage in it for themselves. That's why they so love negative campaigning. That's why they quickly adopt the policies of the other parties. They want to turn us off. And it's obviously working!

    I have a suggestion to make. In my opinion, the best way to stop the parties deliberately alienating the voters is to make minority turnouts ineligible.

    If more than half of the voters don't want an MP, there shouldn't be an MP. The public purse would save the cost, and the constituency would find out whether they're better or worse off. If they don't like it, there's another opportunity next time!
    Under this arrangement, 37 seats would now be unfilled. And the Labour Government would have had only half of its current majority- which may have been enough to stop quite a lot of very bad new laws being handed down.

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  • 67. At 11:41pm on 29 Jan 2010, BiiBoidshateu wrote:

    The political structure in this country is populated almost exclusively by communistic anti-British E.U Quislings.

    The mainstream media are their complicit mouthpieces(revealing an expenses scandal is small beer considering what theses creatures have done to the British people for decades-including planned population replacement-otherwise known as genocide)

    Anyone asking me to lend even a scintilla of legitimacy to such an evil System by "voting" for the 3-in-1 cultural communist party is displaying a level of ignorance/duplicity that is beneath contempt.

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  • 68. At 07:26am on 30 Jan 2010, Natalie wrote:

    Years a go I watched a documentary about wild dogs of Africa, during the filming two females were expecting; the dominant female and another. Try to bear with me I'll get to the point in a bit!
    The dominant female had her puppies first and she and the rest of the pack cared for them. The second female had hers, the pack didn't help her, she had to leave her puppies to hunt for food for them on her own. The dominant female then went into the others den and systematically killed the puppies one by one until only one was left! The film crew called him Solo.
    Nearly there! The pack had to up sticks and move, Solo was still very young, too young for such a journey, his mother tried to help him; she carried him but was too weak herself and was forced to leave him! Heart breaking stuff! The film crew were in a dilemma, should they help Solo? He wouldn't survive on his own! They said and I'll never forget it, "you need to help those who need help". So they did intervene and save him by introducing him into another wild dog family! Hooray!
    Right the point I'm trying to make, I believe we should also help those who need help. We are human beings after all and not dogs where its survival of the fittest! We must then vote for the party we believe does this, who are our film crew? Some how I think if they were Conservative, they would of shot Solo...........why, because their core beliefs revolve around survival of the fittest! What do you think? Were the film crew wrong? Would we have done any different?
    Whenecver I vote I remember Solo and I always will.

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  • 69. At 08:19am on 30 Jan 2010, BiiBoidshateu wrote:

    Err,Natalie,what about the killer mum`s offspring that will one day have to compete with the survivor`s offspring?

    Back in the real world,the British establishment IS the killer mum dutifully eliminating many potential little British "dogs",to make way for the billions of potential new "British passport holders".

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  • 70. At 10:52am on 30 Jan 2010, Natalie wrote:

    BiiBoidshateu, what are you afraid of? Look at the NHS and see for yourself the great contributions people from over seas make to our health service. Or maybe if you need an operation in the future,look at the people taking care of you and your family, the Anaesthetist from Sri Lanka , the Surgeon from Indian, the recovery nurse from the Philippines and the ward nurse from Scotland, look and be thankful that they are there. I do live in the real world. There are plenty of jobs in the NHS, why not get yourself one and experience the real world for yourself!

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  • 71. At 12:16pm on 30 Jan 2010, BiiBoidshateu wrote:

    Yes,we would`nt be able to look after our own healthcare,pay our pensioners,feed ourselves,tie our own shoes up etc,etc without foreigners.

    Yawn.

    Obviously you`re not worried about the lack of healthcare in these other countries.

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  • 72. At 1:35pm on 30 Jan 2010, Natalie wrote:

    That isn't what I mean, we rely on each other, the NHS need their support; like other healthcare systems need ours. There are plenty of English nurses and doctors here and abroad; working together to provide good healcare. I can't change the healthcare in the Philippines but I can vote to protect ours. In the last couple of months I have listened to the debates in America regarding new health reforms. I hope they pass. There is nothing I can do, but their voters can!

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  • 73. At 2:21pm on 30 Jan 2010, hogorgog wrote:

    Very depressing, but good to see the BBC doing its bit......2 polls, in today's Telegraph and Mirror, showing a fall in Tory support, to +7 and +8 respectively, and at or below the magic 40%, and Labour support increasing.............not a mention anywhere on the BBC......but plenty on John Terry's sex life. Is there a "done deal" agenda being promoted by the BBC ?

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  • 74. At 3:40pm on 31 Jan 2010, William1260 wrote:

    Without giving a history of the Conservative party (their history will reveal why they seek to help everyone), they are the party who will help thoses that need help, the Labour party would weaken the strong in order to give help to people who dont need it! Thats the difference, you may choose the easy option of ignoring anything politicians say (which is lazy as it avoids entering into a mature discussion)but there is a difference on the parties tone, the Conservative party aspire to make EVERYONE in the country better off, the Labour party want to make only the POOR better off, at the expense of everyone else; which do you think is fairer?

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  • 75. At 4:49pm on 31 Jan 2010, SirReausThought wrote:

    Re No 6 Metaltoast wrote
    A solution would be to introduce politics into compulsory PSHE lessons
    What a good idea there could be an A level in differentiating between"all necessary means" and "serious consequences". In other words they would learn to decipher coded language for the use of force.
    They could be wised up on identifying if the parties promise at an imminent election are as good as the ones they broke from the last election. Imagine a question on the paper. “We must see that it never happens again”-- discuss. And the crême de la crême would be able to calculate the cost of last election promises compared to the cost of an imminent election promises, in present costs of course. And a biology section would be assessing the lengths of various MPs noses.

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  • 76. At 5:25pm on 31 Jan 2010, LondonHarris wrote:

    Politicians have for now and forever past it seems have lived inside a false "Bubble" called Weastminster [ Known to the many outside as Wasteminster ], where it can be found upon a Daily basis the best place to be where:, The Tail Wags the Dog.

    The first Rule for ANY New Member of Parliament to follow is encountered upon their fist arrival at entry to Wasteminster, where before for the duration of their Member-Ship can begin they must leave their Public thinking Brains in a Box locked away until their final departure from " The House", or, This Place - as it is affectionly known by the inmates

    Once entering the WORLD of the Elites of Dumb and Dumber & Co: or what ever their Party of choice is, they then it seems to the Public at Large to be that they can then spend ALL their time other then also making the most of what they can Claim in Expenses by doing the reverse of what they previously promised they would do in Terms of putting into place REAL worthwhile everyday Policies to make everyday events in UK Society more fairer to everyone in terms of Employment, A decent State Pension and A National Carers Wage etc: to Name but a few that and more that these missing Policies are clearly notice by there absent, while we march on further with now Today with the largest gap between both Rich & Poor in our History, since the Second World War.

    Of course, ALL Politicians WILL ALWAYS tell you what their achivements are, and that they are getting there, but of course now after 60 Plus Years of waiting for the Train to arrive at the Station, more than 5 Generations have died, while the rest are even further being left standing on the Platform, waiting the "Pilgrim Progress" to arrive.

    To many others UK Politicians spend so much of the time in-fighting amongst themselves, while also passing piles of useless Legislation which nobody can ever understand [ Like the entitlementsand worthless Legislation to keep their "Lords" in businsess, and onwards to State Benefits, which also creats and causes further problems with ALL Local Authority Benefits and Discounts etc: ].

    Of course, in this false twilight World of Wasteminster we also have to endure the Circus and Knockabouts of listening to what seems like the Daily Mantra of One-Upmanship in Point Scoring at the phoney PMQ's where the screaming and shouting is enjoyed by ALL including the Political Commentators, but the voice of the Man and the Woman is the Street is at best ignored.

    Given that these above views are only but a few pointers of what is wrong about our out of date ways of Government, then it cannot be of no wonderment to me that the Public at Large have lost completely any faith with ALL Politicians, where their own self-styled important to Politicians at least is the "Only" thing in their lives that count.

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  • 77. At 9:22pm on 31 Jan 2010, Tired Old Man wrote:

    The article and most of the comments say that there so little to choose between the two main parties that people see no point in voting. The article also suggests that the one thing that would make people vote was if a government screwed up enough. Well, I think both those things are incorrect.
    There is an enormous difference between the two main parties.
    One wants to ensure that ministers have enormous arbitrary powers without parliamentary scrutiny, to ensure that the police have draconian powers with no checks, to reverse the burden of proof so that the accused is guilty until proved innocent in as many circumstances as possible, to reduce Britains investment in R&D to hopelessly inadequate levels, to impose a national identity register with draconian penalties for not informing the authorities of trivial changes in circumstances (like change of address, for example) and with useless identity cards, to ensure that laws purporting to uphold our rights to privacy are completely toothless (that's why the EU is currently taking action against them on the Phorm scandal), water down data protection rules to permit total data sharing in the database state, and ensure that it's pals at the top end of the legal, accountancy, and banking businesses can continue to enjoy weekly salaries that exceed excede the median annual salary by a large amount and (in the case of the bankers) take massive bonuses on to as their reward for total failure of our banking system, refuses to listen to the committees of the House of Commons or those of the House of Lords when they call for action on some of the appalling things that are currently happening (see their response to, for example, the recommendations in the Lord's report on internet security), and have exhibited a great love for policy-based evidence and a great hate for evidence-based policy.
    The other main party promises to go the other way, including repealing some of the incredibly bad laws passed in recent years - so there's a pretty enormous difference between them, at least on the face of it (maybe only on the face of it - after 10 years of the current lot it's difficult to trust politicians).
    As for screwing up - well, the current government has been doing that extremely well, but I don't think that it will increase voter turnout - if anything it reduces people's trust that politcians will do anything useful, which makes them less likely to vote.
    It might be nice to have single transferable vote in single member constituencies (as ThoughtCrime suggested) but that is NOT proportional representation (it's "first past the post" - those who call our current system that are wrong). t has many of the disadvantages of our current system, but not all of them, and it has none of the disadvantages of proportional representation; of course it also doesn't have all of the advantages of proportional representation. I think that that - a small and sensible change from the current system - would be a good experiment. But I can't see any of the political parties being willing to try it (the Lib Dems because they have a principled stance in favour of PR, the main two parties because it would benefit the Lib Dems at their expense, the UKIP because they would think it was European nonsense, the BNP because on this is a question on which they would agree with UKIP, the Welsh Nationalists because it would wouldn't provide more seats for Wales, and the Greens because it's not relevant to their agenda).

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  • 78. At 10:30pm on 31 Jan 2010, SirReausThought wrote:

    62 Peter Warwick wrote:

    Notice that ALL of these comments above declare what is wrong with politicians, but no one has actually given any direct or substantial advice as to what they should do.

    Well! they could renationalise many things and take us out of the EU
    If that is too severe for your pallet how about some little things.
    Stop the banks putting £5 on bill that are not direct debit.
    Make any company that took a pensions holiday pay the fund in full and any firm that takes over another should put the pension fund in trust totally out of the new owners grasp. No more Maxwells.
    Make part time education courses which are undertaken with a view to proper, employment cheaper or free if 95% of attendances are made. £650 for a one day or evening per week is outrageous.
    Really sort out the problem of older people having to forfeit their house when they need care.
    Get to grips with the immigration problem.
    Bring the boys home. and let the US look after its own trans- Afghanistan pipe line.
    Mr Warwick Is that enough to be going on with.

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  • 79. At 11:58pm on 31 Jan 2010, Trendy wrote:

    All politicians seem to be lying all the time, they promise things and then don't keep them. Also when they tell the truth they are usually only telling half truths. Look at things that are law in Europe which would have the UK population up in arms ! E.G. If you want to move to live in another town you have to get permission from the new town council and prove things like if you have debts, or if you're on the dole etc. If you get the OK from that council, you must then take a copy of that to the old council and ask their permission to move out, proving the debt things etc as well. If they OK it then you can move. Also you cannot live in a land without being fully registered at an address. You can't disappear like you can in UK, it is a criminal offence ! What party has told the British public that ? The list goes on and on.

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  • 80. At 01:16am on 01 Feb 2010, Angel_in_Transit wrote:

    #61

    What would happen if NOTA won?

    It would depend upon the status of NOTA - spoilt ballots would mean that the "winning" candidate would have considerably less votes than other popular choices - not a pleasant position. It may also send a powerful message to the parties that the public do not much like them or their policies.

    If NOTA was, however, a legitimate choice it may involve a further election at which candidates may have to review what they stand for if they stand again. But in the film "Brewster's Millions" which used the NOTA idea, it became a party with policies because of its popularity and thus collided with established and embedded politics.

    Either way NOTA is a very subtle weapon for exposing the lacklustre nature of political manifestos. It makes people think about what signals they send out, something that does not happen at the present time.

    Personally I'd like to see party politics outlawed, and have local issues determine constituency appeal. In Westminster adults would then have to be mature enough to select a leader and vote according to constituency interests and not because of a Whip lurking around a corner. It might prove chaotic at first but it would settle down.

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  • 81. At 01:57am on 01 Feb 2010, LondonHarris wrote:

    Re: 80

    The fear is of course is that if 99.9% of the UK Voting Population was to either did not turn out to Vote at the next General Election, or even spoiled their Ballots Papers, we would still have this next General Election decide by the remaining 0.01% of those whom did turn out for NOTA.

    The only way to completely have removed for Office the tried and failed main Political Party's namely both in the Labour and Conservatives is for a large majority of Voters to Vote for Independent Canidates, otherwise we will just simply end up with more of the same as we have already had to endure for the past 60 Years and beyond, for its no good simply saying that you DON'T Vote then you can't moan about the result, for it is within Hands and the Power of the Public to throw out the current way we are Governed with our Votes in the First - Place, then perhap we won't need to have to keep bemoaning about the continuing poping up of the same old faces in the now washed out Political Party's that treat their time as an MPs' in Parliament as some kind of permanent Lifes Career whereby nothing ever changes for the better for the many instead of them and their Pals, the few.

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  • 82. At 07:58am on 01 Feb 2010, Angel_in_Transit wrote:

    #81

    True, NOTA is flawed, but then all democracy is. The problem with Independents is, as I explained earlier, the need to have income, capital and a "machine", a point made very cleverly in "Brewster's Millions". To disturb and distress the current Westminster Palace of Farce would take all people disillusioned with politics to organise. At one time Trade Unions (who had numbers) performed this function, followed by the Suffragettes (who did have money and influence).

    The suffrage is a right, hard one by people who fought with their lives. To overcome the current mess will take just as much passion and commitment as the brave people who obtained the right to vote for us. There are some intriguing ways to destroy the fabric that disavows us - do not take a job on PAYE; do not put your money in a bank; do not buy goods from large companies; start trading co-operatives where no money changes hands; take ownership of your own parish and so on. NOTA is just a tiny step on a long journey.

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  • 83. At 09:48am on 01 Feb 2010, SirReausThought wrote:

    81 London Harris
    and
    82 Angel in Transit

    How can we find a party that is not incompetent if we will not chance a vote for one of the fledgeling parties and there are several from which we can choose as well as some independents? Don’t vote for any of the big three BUT VOTE
    The Suffragets and Trade Unions did not have the ability to spread the word as we have herewith but the latter had empty bellies, it is time that today those with near empty bellies got some fire into them.

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  • 84. At 10:10am on 01 Feb 2010, SirReausThought wrote:

    67 BiiBiodshateu

    The political structure in this country is populated almost exclusively by communistic anti-British E.U Quislings.The mainstream media are their complicit mouthpieces

    So Murdoch is a communist? That is the most uninformed posting that I have seen

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  • 85. At 11:09am on 01 Feb 2010, Angel_in_Transit wrote:

    #83

    I wholeheartedly support votes for the "fledglings", if they stand in your constituency, as a way of displacing the cockiness of the main parties. In some ways it is the only relatively easy way of expressing protest, no matter how poor is the manifesto you put a cross to. But I fear they are but short term palliatives.

    The expenses row demonstrates just how callous are most of our parliamentary representatives, and just how mercenary is the life of an MP or peer. The failure to even understand the insensitivity of the actions many have taken suggests a contempt which should be punishable in law. Do we now insist that all political parties vow to introduce a law that makes this so, with the most strict, vicious (i.e. sharp, lasting, and shaming) and stringent penalties for those who breach the law. How on earth do you communicate with these people other than through utter contempt, disgust and dishonour for them?

    I reflect on the non-payment of Council Tax which a handful or so pensioners have done and been imprisoned for their bravery. What if this was 100,000 or a million? Where on earth would the Home Office put them and at what cost (the cost would certainly eclipse the value lost in payments). All ministers, especially prime ministers, must learn just how fine the line is growing between obedience and anarchy, because if they do not pay attention they are going to get mass civil disorder. It has happened before and it will happen again.

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  • 86. At 12:09pm on 01 Feb 2010, LondonHarris wrote:

    Re: 85.

    I agree with you.

    For your right about the fine line between both obedience ans anarchy, but anarchy only occurs when the majority of the People reach a realisation point whereby all fairness in the Countries Political processes have completely broken down, and moreover to the Point that the People themselves feel that they personally don't count or have anything of any "Real Values" in life left to lose by directly facing down the elected Establishment in Power that has failed them.

    This IS happening today in the UK because different sections of Society have NOT had their lives improved by ANY Government since before they were born [ if ever ], and all that has ever happened in the past to keep them obedience was those forever promises given by Politicians of things at some stage getting better in the future, but of course after the milking of MPs' Expenses, and massive Bonuses along with Quantitative Easing given away to Banks and Bankers, the rest of the have-nots are told yet again that they must tighten their belts even further, and quite frankly the Public at Large have simply had enought of being ruled by the self-serving Elite rip-off Merchants calling themselves Governments in the UK.

    As for any better future ahead for the ordinary People in the Streets, for they all both Joe and Jean Public now today know only to full well that neither any Labour nor Conservatives Governments will ever put them first in any future arrangements, for they have NOT ever done so in the Past / Todate, so WHY should they now think or do otherwise in the future.

    You could very easily also say that Politicians NEVER learn, for they are by far to interested in their own Life-Styles, Self-Interest and making as much money on the backs of their Political-Standings as possible to worry about others less well off in life.

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  • 87. At 12:41pm on 01 Feb 2010, SirReausThought wrote:

    At the risk of us monopolising this outlet

    Re 85 Angel in Transit

    Hoorah at least two of us are on or near the same wavelength. Any fledgeling managing to get to Westminister would perhaps arrive after the place has been cauterised and will not catch the disease. I believe that the most stringent penalties should be imposed. Those that are at present in power have had their snout in the trough and if they have not they have kept quiet about it and were therefor complicit, and guilty of derogation of their duty to us, the taxpayers. There should be no “I am sorry I maintain that I am fit to run the country but I cannot fill in an expenses claim without difficulty.” make them pay up and pay back taxes for the benefits in kind that they have enjoyed and make the tax claim retrospective. As their noses grew longer they were saying “We must get value for the taxpayers money.” so let’s get our moneys worth

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  • 88. At 1:34pm on 01 Feb 2010, LondonHarris wrote:

    Re: 87.

    make them pay up and pay back taxes for the benefits in kind that they have enjoyed and make the tax claim retrospective.

    --------------------------------------------------

    Like me, I would say that everyone who pays Taxes would also agree with the above Statement, but however the problem is that Turkeys - Don't Vote for Christmas, and in any Case we will never see the Day when any current Politician at Westminster will endorse any Laws with effectively means that the same Politicians passing any such Laws would indeed either have to pay any money back, or at worse sit in a cell for their short-comings.

    The "Only" way to effectively change the way Government Acts is by a complete sweeping - out of the current arrangements and by throwing ALL the incumbant Babies in the House out with the bath water and into the Thames, so that can effectivly start all over again with complete "New - Broom" from both top to bottom at Westminster.

    Whatever happens, Westminister has got to be bought both kicking and screaming into the 21st Century, by dumping most, and if not ALL of the shackles of the past, for until then we will just bump along Day-In and Day-Out in the same old worn out way.

    We could start today by having fixed General Elections Terms of every 2 Years instead of 5 Years, and also pass a Rule that Politicians can and must ONLY serve 2 Terms in Parliament instead of having a Life Time career on this gravy train.

    If you are serious about a New - Era in British Politics then we must open the Debate about what is fair, and then pass a Bill of Rights with further Rights of Appeal at NO cost to the applicants.

    Otherwise, the UK will slip further down the road into a Police State which is more now Daily effecting everyones lives.

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  • 89. At 3:16pm on 01 Feb 2010, DibbySpot wrote:

    No party can be trusted the majority of Politicians are simply self interested. No party promotes real reform for example with:

    + Standard working hours 10:00 - 17:00 - 4 days a week, 30 days holiday
    + No second job while an MP - no other public servant can have a 2nd job
    + Public on-line records of MPs voting and attendance records
    + Electronic voting in Parliament
    + Term salaries fixed for 5 yrs. Only mimimal expenses, all supported by invoices, for travel and London stays at Travel Inn rates
    + Compulsory public voting in Australia and Belgium
    + Proportional representation with a Non of the above (NOTA) box where if it is more than 20% means the election is re-run 6 weeks later
    + No minister to be appointed unless they have specific experience/qualifications - no business would appoint an unqualified accountant but we do with Chancellors - being an MP is just not good enough as they prove.

    Only if the political class can put their personal hunger for power to one side and put the country before themselves and their grasping will the UK stand any chance or getting back on track.

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  • 90. At 4:43pm on 01 Feb 2010, LondonHarris wrote:

    Re:89.

    Yes again, quite right.

    For, picture this.
    Firstly, the Prime Minister picks an MP to be a Minister/Member of the Cabinet after his OWN thinking, for the last thing on the PM's mind is whether this MP he's picking is anywhere near to a Professionally qualified person who knows or haves some ideas about the inside workings of the Department in Question.

    For at best, we end playing "Yes, Minister", whereby the incoming Minister again at best delegates the everyday running of The Department to the back room of the Civil Service having given a mere guild-line outlining the general direction of travel in which things should proceed, while in the meantime the Minister themselves are doing a Daily Tour of various News Studios making statements about how bad the "other" lot are, and good for the better they will change things.

    At this point it is ALL a Game leading the Public by trying to fool some of the Public most of the time into believing that their approach to matters of Policy are better, and that it is in the interest of the Country that we go down these lines.
    Of course, all this is only a draft idea, for even the Minister has not at this point in time had any proper insight into what the final finished Report will be until it is presented to him/her the Minister by the Back-Room Boffin', for approval, and Yes with perhap the exception to some MPs' such as Vince Cable [ Lib-Dem ] perhap at the Treasury and not at the Health Department etc: will any short stay Minister be aware of what isgoing on around them.

    As for Electronic Voting in the House, well given the current amount of wasted time MPs' spend wandering aimlessly about walking between Lobbies, well any improvement here will be welcomed.

    Personally, I would knock the House of Commons down and replace it with a much reduce stock of MPs', and replace it with a much smaller building.

    I would also scrap the Lords and replace it with an Elected second Chamber.

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  • 91. At 7:28pm on 01 Feb 2010, SirReausThought wrote:

    Re 78 thro to 90

    As I said a fledgeling or an independent will probably not be tainted. He/she will not have a great fund of £s to back him/her but they will have some policy to fight on. Make a point of visiting him/her (you must put a bit of effort in) get h/h to put your general beef on his fly-sheet as a guarantee that he will support them come hell or high water. Try to convince your friends that he/she has some merit. Give him a few bob towards his advertising or phone bills. (He has to show his expenditure to the returning officer) Tell him you will all be watching his progress in Westminster. If the rest of the voting public are so spellbound by the present incumbents that they are in favour of the status qou. Then you’re his/her will be marginalised. But you will have tried and he cannot be blamed
    But if the majority of us vote for fledglings or independents and a good proportion win then he /she will be so glad of the job (that Daddy did not help them to get)that he/she will toe the line for your future vote. Make it that there are no safe seats.

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  • 92. At 7:45pm on 01 Feb 2010, SirReausThought wrote:

    88 London Harris
    If we put enough effort in there will be no Turkeys they will all be dead ducks.
    If we get them out we could give the new comers a proviso to make them pay retrospectively. This is not too difficult as the tax-man can go back seven years to get you, and make you pay interest on your owing so they would not escape. Have faith this election gives us the one chance. Such conditions and public outcry may not occur for another century. Let us all be like Hercules, clean out the stables.

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  • 93. At 08:30am on 02 Feb 2010, oobuc5 wrote:

    I dont vote because on one hand you have the profesional benifit frauster by this i mean the carear polititcian who is there for the money ,the old boys can be seen asleep anytime in the house,then you have people like borris johnston ,connected all of the above plus clueless, the police knew this and gave him the sack !

    then you have your grammer school boys never done a days work in there lives ,they are only there to make up the numbers,

    then we have the hard core boys they have the appearance of of the bun fight boys but they are the sharks ,they can and will eat anybody,

    the thing that sets all of these people apart from the rest of us is ,
    they can destoy millions of lives for the sake saving a few bob ,they can cause carnage with there mistakes ,they would like to be seen as upstanding/honest/beonyed approach ,but every body knows that will go out of the window if they are offered some incentiv[westlands] a case in point,/money for questions,/ect ect.

    we have here a colection of people who who make the law ,are the law but are not subject to any of the laws of this country,

    we the public know it ,we see examples every year time after time ,
    and if i voted for for what the public now call a leagal criminals
    That would be beneath me ,the expression gutter level does not quiet
    cover it, to get to the level of some of our peers you would have to dig a hole,
    So i dont vote:

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  • 94. At 09:15am on 02 Feb 2010, oobuc5 wrote:

    MEET THE NEW BOSS SAME AS THE OLD BOSS
    Imagine a totaly spoilt child ,given every toy in the shop,then a private
    education,and an alowance,a car ,then it needs a job ,no one is going to want to work with a precocious brat who has never had pay for anything in its life ,and has no idear how the real world works ,if it does anything wrong daddy uses his position and conections ,and the problem is sorted.

    So we have someone who has not a clue how the real world works they
    know the cost of everything but the value of nothing ,

    and they need a system that will protect them from paying for their
    mistakes just like daddy did .

    vote for it ,i dont think so:

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  • 95. At 09:38am on 02 Feb 2010, Angel_in_Transit wrote:

    I see GB and co have had a vision.

    They know Audio Visual (AV) appears a lot in Google searches and so they nick the acronym for novelty voting, before they visit mandatory voting upon us. I suppose that next we will see league tables appear on the ballot papers, and form, perhaps even a ready prepared betting slip from their sponsors.....

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  • 96. At 12:26pm on 02 Feb 2010, Apple-Eater wrote:

    What do people expect?

    At a national level, our 3 national parties are massively out of step with public opinion on key issues, notably Europe and immigration.

    At a local level, voting seems to have little impact on making public services better or more responsive, or on planning. So councils are committed to increasing urban sprawl, whether the voters want it or not.

    And then there's our electoral system, of course, which means that votes cast are not necessarily reflected in the outcome of the election.

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  • 97. At 1:12pm on 02 Feb 2010, david senior wrote:

    Party politics has had its day. It would be far better if prospective MPs aired their own beliefs local and national and were elected with a genuine mandate from the electorate they serve.

    No party politics means no party Whips. MPs would be free to elect and vote into office fellow the MPs they want to be elected to the offices of Cabinet & State.

    In addition I believe strongly that before a person is allowed to stand for election as an MP that they should show evidence to the returning officer for the constituency that they have experienced a minimum of 5 years paid employment outside of local or national government.

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  • 98. At 1:42pm on 02 Feb 2010, Apple-Eater wrote:

    David 97

    "I believe strongly that before a person is allowed to stand for election as an MP that they should show evidence to the returning officer for the constituency that they have experienced a minimum of 5 years paid employment outside of local or national government. "

    Excellent point. I am sure most of the things our politicians and public sector get wrong, at national and local level, are because so few of the people involved have experience in the 'real world'.

    Certainly the growth in the numbers of 'professional politicians' does seem to have coincided with our government and governance becoming a laughing stock, at home and abroad.

    The way this country is governed, and the stupid policy mistakes made in areas such as health and education, and social policy, do indicate a political class with a very tenuous grip on reality.

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  • 99. At 2:34pm on 02 Feb 2010, General_Jack_Ripper wrote:

    david senior wrote:
    "In addition I believe strongly that before a person is allowed to stand for election as an MP that they should show evidence to the returning officer for the constituency that they have experienced a minimum of 5 years paid employment outside of local or national government."


    Sounds like a sensible suggestion, I'd like to add another:
    All MP's must prove to the returning officer that the constituency they wish to represent has been their primary home for a minimum of five years (although I’d reduce this to four years if we were to get fixed terms of four years for all MP’s).

    This would then get rid of the central office candidates being parachuted into a constituency as well as ensuring that the MP has some connection with the people and the area that they wish to represent.

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  • 100. At 2:58pm on 02 Feb 2010, Natalie wrote:

    Re: no74 William 1260, you stated that "the Conservative Party aspire to make EVERYONE in the country better off".

    During John Major's term in office there was an article in the Nursing Times about families having their water supply cut off! It said by cutting off people's water we risk the spread of disease i.e gastroenteritis.

    I made an appointment to see my local M.P. I explained why I was concerned and asked if he could do anything to stop the water boards from cutting off people's supplies. My M.P told me he wouldn't help people who didn't pay their bills and said, and I quote "I bet they drink and smoke". "PARDON?" I couldn't believe my ears! He also said "do you believe everything you read?" No, I can honestly say I don't but what could the Nursing Times agenda be..... to spread lies? What for?

    Surely we shouldn't inflict a potential hazardous condition on anyone. The article didn't say why people hadn't paid their their bills, or if they couldn't; only the consequences of living without fresh water. My M.P didn't care! Couldn't care less infact!

    My local water board told me they didn't cut off supplies to families with childre under 5 years old and that bills would be increasing for maintenance and repair works! How about other vulnerable groups, the elderly, the unemployed, the disabled etc.....

    My local M.P was and still is a Conservative. He'll never get my vote but of course he can still if nothing else........."drink and smoke"!

    William you don't have to believe what you read like me, but experience sure opens your eyes!

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  • 101. At 5:48pm on 02 Feb 2010, all_english wrote:

    You say that politics has become more manegerial I find this Ironic since the level of administrative competence has collapsed since 1997---Think of the Dome, Of the flawed IT projects The apalling value of PFI projects, The fall in productivity across the whole public sector

    To be concerned about current affairs is to be concerned about the way your country and the wider world is organised

    I think people are just as concerned about these things as always Think of eco rebels , stop the war protestors , and also UKIP

    The problem is that party politics no longer functions to reflect and debate those concerns

    Both parties ahve lost 90% of their members in consequence they have become ruthlessly efficent power gaining machines. As a result marginal voters are targetted with every one else ignored In addition as ordinary people have stopped supporting them they now get most of their money from Wealthy donors and big business who they are then beholden to. Hence ordinary people are ignored

    There has emerged a professional political class

    They both have far more in common with each other than you or me rather in the same way that the players on the pitch in a premier league game play by the same rules and have lifestyles far more like each other than those watching

    as a consequence the dividing line in British Politics is no longer left or right but between the Political class and the rest a view that goes across the political spectrum

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  • 102. At 11:50pm on 02 Feb 2010, SirReausThought wrote:

    Re 98 Apple Eater

    5 Years continuous employment??? any one fitting that specification would qualify as a collectors item.

    I note from all the above that most complain that it is futile to vote. Giving all sorts of inane reasons. but they all refuse to get off their butts and do something. Just once, though you think it will make not a bit of difference, get along and vote for anybody other than the big three. If it will make no difference you will have lost nothing. But you might gain a lot.

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  • 103. At 09:13am on 03 Feb 2010, Angel_in_Transit wrote:

    #102

    A gem of a comment Sir Reaus.

    Full employment would, naturally, rather diminish the kind of capitalism we are living and breathing right now. It would square the circle as the working person became a valuable commodity instead of something that can be so easily ejected to the "out" tray.

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  • 104. At 10:36am on 03 Feb 2010, SirReausThought wrote:

    Good morning All
    Have you seen that Sion Simonis so bitten with doing so much civic good that he is giving up his spot at the Westminster trough and hopes to move to Birmingham’s Town Hall trough. He accidental picked our pockets of some £20000 he is however sorry of course. Although he payed it back he had it for, How long? and should the tax man bill him for notional benefit by way of potential interest? As I have said before on this blog. They persisted in using the mantra. “They must get value for tax payers money.” The voters of Birmingham should put him in the stocks, charge people to through at him, and thus get some of their moneys worth.
    These politicians are incapable of learning.

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  • 105. At 11:14am on 03 Feb 2010, Edmund Floyd wrote:

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  • 106. At 11:20am on 03 Feb 2010, Edmund Floyd wrote:

    I believe that our country is not a democracy any more,but merely a dictatorship.Where the Prime minister is the dictator there is to much power in parliament to stop this now.A revolution or civil disobediance is the only way to change politics now not the VOTE,Politicians have made it meaningless.

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  • 107. At 11:46am on 03 Feb 2010, Angel_in_Transit wrote:

    Although it is about US politics, "Man of the Year" does satirise the flawed democracies we live in, and the tokenism of "holding" power. There are few who really know what the issues are in their own backyards and so, in a contemptuous manner, they engage in the "bigger" picture, and comparisons between one "world" and "another".

    Words like "freedom" and "rights" are bandied around as if they are definitive and unchangeable sticks in the ground instead of goalposts that change shape, height, width, and position as the game continues. Factor in the numbers game, statistics, form, embedded conveyors of information, and you have no chance of knowing what you really need to know.

    At least some of the lesser parties tell it like it is. And even the more odious of the lesser parties cannot be any worse than the current low life that would not be in politics if it wasn't so full of easy money for them.

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  • 108. At 11:58am on 03 Feb 2010, SirReausThought wrote:

    454 Perry
    Both tongues?

    I had suspected that you are fissilingual but more likely amphistomous
    These are two attributes necessary for one to be a politician. Which is quite different to being politically minded.
    One is having a forked tounge the other having a mouth at both ends of the body

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  • 109. At 12:08pm on 03 Feb 2010, SirReausThought wrote:

    My 108
    oops wrong blog

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