The current UK Government scares me.
I wish I could say that I was exaggerating, but alas I can't. Simplifying, maybe, but certainly not exaggerating.
I'm a big proponent of democracy. Having seen processes at work, both on a small level (student politics) and on a larger level (national politics), I've come to appreciate them for what they should be. I'm not a fan of beaurocracy, but people tend to confuse the two. Democracy is representative; it's a way for everyone to have their say, and to have their opinion given equal weighting. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, and the majority view goes. You can't please all of the people all of the time, but you can please most of them.
But recent events have caused me to lose my faith in the UK Government. As a rule, I'm quite apolitical. I don't get involved or follow national politics that closely and I'm not affiliated to any political party. I'm moderately well-informed about things, though, and every now and again I dip my toe in the waters of national politics.
As I write (2004-04-08), last Wednesday the new Higher Education Bill passed its 3rd reading. This was the bill regarding the infamous top-up fees. I was in the Strangers' Gallery - the balcony just above the House of Commons - and got to watch the final debate and vote. And despite the protests, despite the opposition, despite the flaws and lack of consultation the bill passed. It was at this moment that I really lost faith. The constituents came out and lobbied the Government, and they went ahead anyway.
But let's play devil's advocate, and say that those protesting against top-up fees are just a bunch of smelly students. The other big issue recently was the war in Iraq. Something like 70% of people were against it, from all age groups and professions, and we went ahead and attacked anyway (please bear in mind it's possible to be anti-war and anti-Saddam before emailing me about this). And over the past few days compulsory ID cards have leapt to the fore as an issue. But not even as an issue - they're being described as an inevitability. With no studies to show whether or not it is a viable, cost-effective method of combatting terrorism, it seems a bit crazy to throw vast sums of money at it.
The scariest thing of all is that there's no real opposition. New Labour have pissed on the will of the people by going to war, broken promises that got them elected ("We will not introduce top-up fees and have legislated to prevent them" was a manifesto pledge), and now make moves to continue the march towards a police state. The Conservatives still haven't managed to organise themselves into a decent opposition, and people either see them as bigoted, prejudiced, or simply tainted from Thatcher, Major, et al. And nobody takes the Liberal Democrats seriously, despite them having quite a few policies that seem like a good idea to me. If the Lib Dems can't get a look in, then no-one else will either. With no viable alternatives to vote for and a lack of "No Suitable Candidate" on the ballot slips democracy falls apart as people stop voting on the basis of "Who's best?" and start voting on the basis of "Who's least worst?".
Put it all together, and it scares me. We're reaching a situation where there's no viable alternative to a government that ignores the electorate. The populace stand up and say "We don't want you to do this!" and the Government say "Lalalala, we're not listening, we're doing it anyway". People are running scared and handing over their freedoms whilst they're being sold an illusion of security and safety from the threat of terrorism. I just don't have the faith in the Government to be 100% benign, 100% honest, and 100% safe.