Capote said of Kerouac, “that’s not writing, it’s typing”. Well, the words below definitely are typing. I sat on the floor of a train and typed for 25 minutes. This is it. Some questions and some words. It’s probably a footnote to yesterday’s post.
Why do we vote for who we vote for?
On the journey from Hereford to Hay, with its vivid crop purple UKIP posters growing in the meadows, I asked the driver what drew the people of the Welsh borders UKIP. It was the asparagus farming.
The farmers don’t pay enough, so the locals won’t pick the crop, so Polish workers come over and pick for a pittance and shelter in a caravan, so UKIP seems the answer.
But is that really how to sort the problem, or just the simplest dressing up of an issue as a problem caused by the filthy foreign?
I have some questions, you may have some answers.
Why is the pay for picking asparagus so low? Can the farmers not afford to pay more? If so, why can’t he pay more, who is screwing them on their asparagus transactions? Who is the main profiteer? If they genuinely can’t pay more, then how does banning Polish workers lead to a living wage, wouldn’t it just lead to asparagus farm closure? Why can’t legislation on worker’s rights be brought in that secures a living wage?
To my naive, metropolitan elite eyes, the migrant worker seems to be a scapegoat in the deregulated world.
As usual, I want to know, where’s the evidence?
Why do I vote for who I do?
I am left leaning though it has no great advantage to me. Tax cuts and death duty reductions could come in handy. I could afford to go private rather than NHS. If I started saying yes to a few more corporate gigs, then I could always send my son to private school. Unfortunately, I am lumped with some idea made from a hotch potch of hearsay, pub conversations, nature, nurture, and some reading, that makes me believe in the idea of a society and that those with less of a disparity between rich and poor are happier and more successful. Profit for the mighty few has become a loved propaganda even when cursing the bankers, bonuses for bosses of public subsidised private companies, and all the other American dream hand me downs that came with Starbucks and Subway and denim sold as rebellion.
As George Carlin said,”they call it the American dream because you have to be asleep to believe it”.
Sometimes I am intrigued by libertarianism. The stalling point is wondering how you start your libertarian utopia. How do you wipe away all the advantages and headstarts that the corporate worlds have obtained from the previous economic regimes?
My anarchist friends opt out of voting, and there are elections I have missed. Elections where the swine were not so swinish I could muster the passion to cross the box of the banal opposition who could barely persuade me to sample a new margarine, let alone 5 years of their green-seated obedience and taxi expenses. .
What do I want from the party I vote for and what do I expect?
Should I be so naive to think that what they promised in opposition is likely when the tassels of power are on their shoulders?
Wouldn’t it be easier to believe their wars for freedom and liberalism rather than profit and power? Why can’t I make that happy leap into the candyland of good intention myths?
Do the opposition even offer enough opposition for me to see them as another party, not just another wing of the same one in fancy dress? Is it all Pepsi Max versus Diet Coke – a war of syrups?
Despite the open workspaces, are we all in such separate worlds that the camaraderie and union bonds are lost in i-pod volume and paranoid personal concerns?
We are angry about tax dodgers, but don’t seek out the independent coffee shops which may lack the resources and turnover to engage in willful elusion of payment. It was easy to boycott Starbucks, I was already doing it based on taste and desire, before politics came in.
I may sometimes “talk the talk”, but when I “walk the walk”, am I doing it in shoes made by blister thumbed child Labourers?
Everything is reported, nothing is experienced. I don’t like those strangers that I’ve never seen. Don’t get to know people, you might lose your enemy.
Yet on the platforms, when these seemingly more frequent train jump suicides bring public transport to a stop, there is more compassion than I used to hear.
“How selfish,” I hear someone say, but the businessman, slightly boozy, turns and says, “imagine what state you must be in to do such a thing. The implication for the driver and people such as us won’t be imagined due to the blinding despair”. And others agree.
If only we knew more people, beyond the newspaper frame or TV screen. If we knew where to look for answers, if we knew who to question…
And so I go on touring – Swindon, Hull, Leeds, York, Newport, Winchester, Swansea and on and on to your town. Details HERE
The Cosmic Genome app with Alice Roberts, Brian Cox, Stewart Lee, Richard Dawkins and 123 more is HERE
The party I wish I could vote for would be able to understand how to interpret and support science whilst having the integrity to use the knowledge for public not private good, oh and have the political wits to get into power.
When I look back, in general I vote for who I vote for to keep the bad guy out. Very rarely am I voting for the name on the ballot. I think a problem now is that there don’t seem to be any good guys, just degrees of charlatans.
If you haven’t already read it may I recommend ‘The Last Vote’ by Philip Coggan? A cracking book about democracy and whether it has a future in our society. It may not answer your questions but it will give you something to chew on.
Do more “typing”; I really enjoyed that post Robin.It’s a complex world where there are no simple answers.Yet some insist they have them.
Meanwhile I can completely agree with your Starbucks boycott. i never liked their coffee either. The public’s apathy towards boycotting those companies that make no contribution to British society is astounding. Maybe they are ignorant of the consequences. More likely I suspect is that most people simply don’t care. Perhaps they believe that even if these organisations paid their taxes that nothing would change.
Most people I know on the left and the right want a better and fairer society, they just believe in different ways of getting there. The sooner we are able to put aside ideologies and collaborate rather than jeer at each other, the sooner we will be able to move forward to a better future where dogma does not dictate our responses.
Once again, an intriguing post that articulates much of the frustration many people feel at this point in time. I spent last night writing with a furious energy about voter apathy (I would genuinely love your opinion, incidentally) and feel passionately about the easily digested, nutrition free nonsense served up by everyone from UKIP to Russell Brand. Yet, how do people so often choose to articulate themselves? Vines, memes and fifty word quotes. Jesus, this comment would be considered heavy reading my many, let alone the wonderful mess of proper, real time thought you’ve written over the past few days. I’m a little lost as to what else people of conscience should actually do. You can take a politically apathetic voter to the polling station, but you cannot make him think.
Firstly, I think there is a natural tendency with in us all to at the very least preserve what we have while aspiring for more.
Political parties have to respond to this across the power spectrum, the disenfranchised and disorganised poor have little power, while the rich and well healed tend to be both better organised have a great deal of influence.
The best outcomes come in times when the interests of those with the most power are aligned with the interests of those with little.
Note however that when those interests are not aligned, it’s the power that usually wins, an insight as to where most power lies can be seen from the response to the *private sector* banking crisis, private sector bankers bailed out, public sector services cut.
When that happens and keeps happening, the political landscape can become unstable, this is I think where UKIP have capitalised.
Secondly, I think there is a need to look for common experience when we meet people. On the train you’re all in a similar boat, to use a confusing metaphor.. commonality and physical proximity
lead to shared empathy.
Without that proximity and share experience that need is much less.
The thing that keeps me from slipping into depression over current state of affairs is that I am well aware that there are plenty of right minded, good hearted people out there, its just that the mean spirited and self centred tend to shout louder and gain more attention. They rarely last though, because they are horrible. If left to their own devices, UKIP will self destruct over the coming months as they start infighting over power and money. Perhaps I am too hopeful.
“Don’t get to know people, you might lose your enemy.”
What a great line!