Electoral snobbery and the dog poo fairy

After the uprising of the 17th of June

The Secretary of the Writers’ Union

Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee

Stating that the people

Had forfeited the confidence of the government

And could win it back only

By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier

In that case for the government

To dissolve the people

And elect another?

 

 Bertolt Brecht

 

I don’t think anybody has written better about anthropomorphic personification than Terry Pratchett. In his Discworld books, they occur when people believe that a phenomena or a concept has a personality, and thus the personalities become real. One of Pratchett’s best characters is DEATH, but there are others.

Within his books it seems that the more belief there is, the more likely the personification is to exist. So Jack Frost really does paint windows and the Sandman creeps round with his bag of sand sending children to sleep. Belief is what matters.

So I was a little perturbed when a couple of days ago, I saw pasted to a litter bin, a sticker bearing the immortal words, “There’s no such thing as the dog poo fairy.”

 

Image 

 

This wouldn’t normally be an issue, but given the lack of trust in authority in this country at the moment it might become one. After all, if ‘they’ say that something doesn’t exist, and ‘they’ normally lie, then obviously the dog poo does exist. We’re more likely to believe in something if ‘they’ tell us not to. Hence I’m expecting to see the dog poo fairy with her red hair and white dress giving TV interviews in the not too distant future.

 

This lack of trust tends to manifest as contempt.

Q   “How do you know when a politician is lying?”

A    “Their lips move.”

 

The problem is that contempt seems to leak into other aspects of life and I don’t know about anybody else but I’m getting worried by the amount of contempt there is in politics at the moment. You see one extreme in Thailand where the country’s urban elite refuses to be governed by a party elected by the peasant majority, accusing them of taking power by bribing the peasantry (whereas previous governments took power by bribing the urban elite?)

It looks pretty bad in the US. A friend of mine described his country as “The place where the ‘liberals’ aren’t liberal and the ‘Christian right’ isn’t Christian.”

But what is it like here in the UK? When you look at stuff people post to their Facebook walls, what strikes me is the visceral contempt they, (or the people who create the ‘witty’ memes they post) appear to have for those who don’t share their political viewpoint.

It’s going to be interesting to see what happens with regard to the UK Independence Party. It’s notable that at a high level both the Conservative and Labour parties have been backing away from the extreme rhetoric. Indeed they’ve stressed that they don’t regard UKIP as racist.  

 At the moment the local election results are coming out, and already people are trying to make sense of them. One quote I thought was interesting,

 “Some academics say Ukip’s base these days are those “left behind” by New Labour: generally older, generally male, generally less likely to have degrees or other academic qualifications, generally more rural, generally home-owning. (Note, yes, generally.) They feel, the theory goes, like they no longer recognise or like modern, post-immigration Britain and cannot trust the political elite.”

 

The big difference between London and the rest of England is also interesting but then a lot of people outside London don’t regard it as part of England anyway.

I confess that I’m waiting with some interest to see the results of this Euro-election, or at least the UK results. I’m not so much bothered by the actual result as what sort of comments we start seeing on Facebook about them.

Will people be willing to accept the choices of their fellow citizens or are we going to see the sort of vitriol people have poured over political parties poured over those who voted for them?

One thing that worries me about the US is that they seem to have taken this level of contempt for fellow members of the electorate even further than we have. Certainly I’ve seen comments, from this country and from the US along the lines of “Anyone who votes for party X is too stupid to deserve a vote.”

It’s amazing how rapidly people forget that we’re supposed to be equal. My vote, your vote, and the vote of the person who just voted for the party you loathe are equal, just as we are all equal.

If we’re to remain a democracy, it’s something we just have to learn to live with. 

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6 thoughts on “Electoral snobbery and the dog poo fairy

  1. lakesmotorhomehire May 23, 2014 at 10:35 pm Reply

    Well said Jim. I don’t care too much who you vote for, vote for whoever you want (pirate party anyone??) just get out there and vote.

    I regard it as your duty to vote. Vote for whoever you want, spoil your vote if you wish (in the absence of a “none of the above” box) but turn up and be counted.

    • jwebster2 May 24, 2014 at 6:06 am Reply

      I think we ought to have a ‘none of the above’ box. Anybody polling less votes that ‘none of the above’ couldn’t stand for public office or be paid by a quango for six years.

      To quote Plato, “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”

  2. keirarts May 28, 2014 at 11:19 pm Reply

    Well I voted Pirate party. They had a nice ship for a logo.

    Once upon a time we used to pick sides and beat each other over the heads in wars or other disputes where one was asked to pick a side.

    Then a lot of the public embraced sports. Where we can pick sides and watch our side duke it out with the other in an arena.

    For those of us not interested in watching sports we now have politics, Like sports and warfare it’s tribal.

    • jwebster2 May 29, 2014 at 6:20 am Reply

      I suppose that the advantage of some party hacks is that most people can look at them and feel reassured that, whatever else they’ve done, they’ve never sunk to that level.
      But one question occurs to me. If these people were really ‘left behind’ by New Labour and modern politics, then obviously they’ll go back to pick them up. That’s what you do with something or someone you left behind.
      If you don’t go back, it’s because they weren’t left behind, it’s because you dumped them.

      • keirarts May 29, 2014 at 7:23 am

        I think you’re right about that. Dumped is a better word. My parents actually campaigned for labour at one point before getting ceremoniously dumped because their views didn’t fit in with the new labor message..

        The main parties only really have themselves to blame when these people look elsewhere for someone who claims to represent their views.

      • jwebster2 May 29, 2014 at 8:05 am

        Yes, we’ve had party politics hijacked by a small metropolitan clique. It’s their electoral snobbery that has put us where we are today

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