1. Jun, 2017



With an imminent General Election all the usual knee-jerk reactions from the electorate are forthcoming...
“All politicians are corrupt;” “they are in it for what they can get;” “crooks and liars;” “untrustworthy;” “they say one thing and do another;” “Idle!” “they never agree and spend too much time arguing with each other” and what about all those sex scandals?
In other words separately or as a group they are guilty of enthusiastically committing the seven deadly sins of lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride.

Knowing that those we elect to govern us have the same failings as the rest of us, however, gives me great personal comfort. It is this same knowledge of our human failings that is the basis of the Jury system that lays at the heart of liberty. Flawed it might be but its alternatives are so much worse. (On an historical note when Cromwell established a Parliament of (alleged) Saints in 1653, it was an abject failure!)

Yet despite misgivings, there are thousands of people like our friend and neighbour - a rural District Councillor who works long and arduous hours protecting the interests of her constituents, sitting on endless committees and attending numerous site-visits. There is precious little political, economic, social or cultural gain to be had there!

So much for the theory…now for the practice…

1. Imagine that you are a Norfolk County Councillor, and Chairman of the Committee for Flood Defence.

2. Following the heaviest of a series of recent high tides your committee has some important decisions to make. As much as you would like to safeguard the whole of the long Norfolk coastline from the mouth of the River Yare round to the Wash, funds will not allow it. Instead you have had to identify just two high priority areas.

3. The first of these is in a part of Great Yarmouth involving 14,000 homes and businesses along the banks of the Rivers Bure and Yare. The other area lays between Sea Palling and Horsey, consisting of arable, marshland and 420 houses, farms and businesses. This area lays within your own constituency.

4. Your problem is that there is only enough money to fund one of the areas. You must decide which.

5. You do your homework. You can do a “President Trump,” explain Global Warming as a Chinese con-trick and wait for the risk of flooding to just go away of its own accord.
Instead you seek the guidance of climatologists, geographers, naturalists, economists etc., who make it plain that the threat of future flooding is inevitable and immediate. Their advice is simple…you have no option. Do not fund the rural area, just let the North Sea take its course. Go for the Yarmouth site instead.

6. However, when put to the vote your committee is split right down the middle and you have the casting vote. Do you take the utilitarian view and go with Yarmouth on the strength of there being more people likely to be affected or do you go for the rural option knowing that it will put paid to your re-election?

7. You do not hesitate. Putting your interests aside and on the basis of the available scientific evidence alone, you vote for the rural option.

8. Then it arrives… The letter inviting you to meet the owners and tenants of the 420 flooded properties at an evening public meeting at Stalham High School…

9. There you will have to stand…on the stage trying to explain the reasons for your honest decision in the face of an angry baying, mob about to lose their homes or businesses. They are not interested in your explanation nor the offer of generous compensation. They want your blood Mr. Floodman!
“Did you not receive a large bribe from a Yarmouth businessman?” “You did not try hard enough to exact greater funding!” “What about your promise to defend your constituency from further flooding?” “You are like all the others, once elected you forget your promises. You should be ashamed!”

10. Never mind how honourably you acted, you are facing two hours of vitriolic abuse from those constituents many of whom you once regarded as friends…

If so, stand in a local election. Find out for yourself that just as a soldier is defined as “he/she is an individual who defends those who cannot defend themselves” so a politician is “he/she who is elected  to make decisions for those unable or unwilling to do so themselves.”

NOW assuming you won’t want to go that far yourself, (and why would you?) there is much you can do as an individual…
1. Accept that our form of democracy is a messy business but preferable to that of anything else. (Just think Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen or a Gulag).
2. Decide what you mean by “Politicians.” Whether national or local they are not a uniform group. (I recently read of a migrant who stated how much he liked England but he “had lost his individuality and become the Polish nation,” -same thing).
3. Ask questions everywhere to everyone. Make yourself an informed pain in the butt!
3. Never fail to vote. Too many good men and women have died or suffered imprisonment to give you that right. Use it or lose it. Besides, if you don’t, then you have surely lost the moral right to criticise.
4. However much we might complain about our representatives, there is another group just as guilty…US who elect them or even worsw, refrain from electing them!
5. Just remember that any politician from Town Council to Westminster will always be damned if they do and damned if they don’t. This ensures that every political career will inevitably end in failure.

So to repeat…Fancy that do you? If not, then show support for those who do and VOTE!