Paul Dundon’s Weblog

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A little cheese and a little whine

A Very British Rally

Today I took part in the Take Back Parliament rally in Manchester. Literally tens of people gathered in Albert Square to practice chanting “Fair Votes Now!” before marching, under the watchful gaze of a substantial significant perfunctory nominal entirely notional police presence, to Piccadilly Gardens – almost 800 yards away.

In a frenzy of civilised, good natured banner waving, we encountered little resistance as we forced our way en bloc through the peak of Manchester’s weekend shopping crowds. Thank goodness for the recession! Pedestrians along Cross Street almost showed an interest, while in Market Street we exchanged flyers with some people worried about the occupation of Gaza, and good-humoured high fives with a small group running an “everything is okay” protest. A few teenagers followed us for a while, aping our chants in an antic manner, while some older youths parodied the rhythm of our “Fair Votes Now” with their demands that we should “Get a f*cking life”, proof once again that there are some people who will never understand liberalism and very probably, vice versa.

We were a very select group of protesters, the sort of people who can (and indeed did) debate the relative merits of STV and AV and (I’m pretty sure) quote extensively from David Mitchell’s better rants. Just the sort of people you want in your corner when the balloon goes up.

One wonders why there weren’t more people there. Perhaps the arguments are too finessed. Perhaps it isn’t clear to most people exactly what is at stake. Perhaps people are so cynical of the old politics that they cannot find it in themselves to have faith in a new one.

Or perhaps the shoppers of Manchester realised that they were never going to take back parliament; that the debate over electoral reform is not really about whether, and in what way, the government serves the people, but is rather an attempt by those on the fringes of the polyarchy to get access to the core. Reform would undoubtedly create an ecology where smaller political parties would be viable: it might, at a push, quadruple the size of the ruling class. Then, perhaps, power would lay in the hands of fractionally more people than we passed on the way from Albert Square to Piccadilly. What difference that would make, in a time when the very principles of democracy and collectivism are under constant assault, is anyone’s guess. Take Back Parliament is a good thing; but our current sense of disenfranchisment and disengagement is due to issues which run much deeper than how our votes are counted.

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Filed under: Politics

One Response

  1. […] is no bad thing. Fairer votes are important, but as I have pointed out elsewhere, electoral reform really only makes a difference to those already near to the heart of politics. […]

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My Bookshelf

The Golden Bough
The Value of Nothing
The Fire
A Wolf at the Table
Devil Bones

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