What was it Churchill said about Democracy?
Something about it being the worst of all systems of government but the only one possible?
With all the news of events in Egypt this last week and the ongoing rumblings of the citizenry here blaming the Councillors for everything under the sun – from rubbish collection to the schools – I’m reminded again of a small epiphany I had whilst researching the show (An Enemy of the People) in 2011.
At the age of 40-something, with a university degree and the ability to communicate in several languages, I’m probably more able to explain the governance of France and Germany and the social & historical context behind those political systems, than I am the system in the UK.
Oh yes, we laugh: ID cards, we don’t need them. A constitution – what for?
I’m fine with all that and have always liked that we have the luxury of not needing a form in triplicate to allow us to move house or sell a car, or whatever.
But really – really – how can it be that with 11 O levels and 3 A levels and a degree and the power to vote in local, national and European elections, I didn’t – until relatively recently – know that Councillors are mostly unpaid people who can claim – (mostly) fairly modest allowances for expenses for the time they take away from their other jobs or families or both, to work on our behalf?
I didn’t know that when we are busy blaming them for their lack of vision and strategy, we are criticising our neighbours who put themselves out there to make a difference in their community.
(Note – Councillors are your elected reps not the council officials who are paid by the council to suggest, advise and enact the policies).
I’m just noodling around here – thinking out loud – but shouldn’t it be compulsory that we all understand how it works by the time we leave school? And maybe it’s like jury service. Maybe we should all have to have some involvement (ok yes that way madness lies….)
But really – don’t we deserve and shouldn’t we require better for and of ourselves….