Too much of a good thing…

Politics isn’t exactly everyone’s favourite subject, but much as I have avoided it as much as possible up to now I feel compelled to comment.

Be warned:  I busted out the swears.

As you may know the UK government has called a snap general election for the 8th June.  This has caused no amount of groaning from people in this country who are feeling the effect of election fatigue, one sympathizes.  I must admit to being a bit of a geek, I find elections to be rather interesting, the run up can be entertaining as you see politicians jockeying for position to get their messages heard.  Cue politicians attempting to appear hip and cool as they attempt to get the votes of people that couldn’t relate to even if given the benefit of a body swap for a day.

Frankly it’s embarrassing.

Then there’s election day itself when the results start rolling in and you begin to get a picture of how the election might be unfolding.  I think it can all be rather dramatic as you start to see heads rolling.  I know it’s a little sad, but I don’t care, I enjoy it.

Even with all that, even with the entertainment factor, the sense of comedy and drama; I’m beginning to grow tired of elections.  We had a general election in May 2015, the EU referendum in June 2016 and now this in June.  If you live in Scotland you also had to contend with the independence referendum in 2014 and the elections to the Scottish parliament in May 2016.  Northern Ireland held elections to the assembly in May 2016 and March 2017.  Wales held elections to the Welsh Assembly in May 2016 also.  Throw in various local council elections, elections to the European and probably some other election that I’ve forgotten about and that’s a hell of a lot of voting.

It’s exhausting.

I watched a news report just after the election had been announced, the reporter was speaking to a lovely old lady called Brenda and he was asking her what she thought of the announcement.  To say Brenda was dismayed at the prospect of having to go to the polls again would be an understatement, she summed up the situation perfectly in one sentence.

“There’s just too much politics going on at the moment!”

Well said Brenda, well said.

I never thought I’d say this, but there is way too much politics going on right now.  If things continue as they are then I do feel we could end up in double digits in terms of the number of elections before the end of next year.  I do wonder what effect this might have on voter turnout at the election, it’s easy to understand how people might be turned off at the prospect of another election.  It’s not even like things will change really, we’ll get the same sorts of people, telling the same lies and using the same meaningless soundbites in attempt to win our votes.

However, I would urge people to exercise their vote nonetheless.  Vote for the party you’ve always voted for, vote for someone new, vote for an independent candidate or if none of the above appeals then spoil your ballot in a way that clearly states you are voting for none of the candidates.  Whilst I get people might be tired of voting with absolutely no change whatsoever, not voting isn’t going to solve anything.

Nothing emboldens politicians and the powerful like the silence of the people, voting sends a message to our political class, whatever we choose that message to be.  That’s not all there is to political engagement of course as voting is only part of being politically engaged, but this has been my longest blog post yet, so I’ll cover the rest some other time.

Whatever the case, once this election is done can our politicians please get their shit together and just fuck off for at least the next twelve months?

Finding My Place

My life hasn’t exactly gone to plan.

I was born in Liverpool in June of 1979, this isn’t about there however, we left Liverpool in 1986 and though I’m proud of my scouse heritage, it’s not home to me.  No, in 1986 my mum and my aunty (very much a part of parental unit) upped sticks and moved the family to a nice little town called Runcorn.  At the tender age of six, I remember being utterly blown away with this crisp looking town.  Having come from a bustling city I was utterly in awe of how rural it seemed to me, we had woodland virtually on our doorstep for goodness sake.

I’ll always remember my first day in Runcorn, myself and my mum had come ahead of the rest of the family.  I’d contracted a nasty case of the chickenpox not long before and I can well imagine I was milking it for everything it was worth, this was probably how I’d gotten the packet of Fox’s Glacier Mints I was enjoying.  Sat there in the nearly empty house awaiting the arrival of the furniture, I spent most of the time making the most of the empty space and shouting as loud as I could so it would echo.  A trip to the shop that later took ten minutes, took us an hour because the housing estate we had moved to was like a maze if you didn’t know your way around.

Thirty years later I’m still here, different abode, thirty years older and a wee bit wiser.  I think back through the years and it strikes me how little I’ve left this town.  When I were a wee lad I had great plans, I was going to start my own business of some variety and travel the world, it didn’t quite pan out that way.  Barring the year I spent working on a holiday camp in Devon and one trip abroad, I’ve spent most of life right here in this little northern town.

For better or worse it has helped shape me into the person I am now, it’s fair to say I am a product of my surroundings.  Large swathes of Runcorn are what could be described as deprived.  In the wake of the Second World War there was a critical housing shortage, so the government of the day passed the New Towns Act 1946 which provided the basis for New Towns, to act as overspill from densely populated areas of deprivation.  It really shouldn’t have required the benefit of hindsight to realise this was a social shit-show waiting to happen.

Poor people, ram-rodded into poorly planned and cheaply built housing with access to some of the worst schools known to man.  They had less the look of housing solutions and more the look of out of town ghettos, with shitty transport links to keep the residents in their nice new sinkholes of deprivation.  It’s wasn’t solving the problem, so much as moving it.

How does our blogger fit into all this I hear you ask?

I grew up right in the middle of all of this.  I worked my way through the poor schools.  Bullied from one end of my school life to the other, I spent more of my time working out ways to avoid people than I did learning things.  I left school with a reasonable level of education, but no qualifications to back it up.  I bounced around various low skilled jobs, interspersed with long periods of unemployment and had little drive to change this situation for most of the ten years after I left school.  I’m not blameless in all this, I could have and eventually did change.

I have a steady job and have done for the last twelve years, I write and am making a serious attempt to transition to doing this full time.  But even with that I am not a man of means, I live in social housing because I can’t afford to go private, let alone afford to buy a home of my own.  I’ve worked hard for what I have, but it’s been tough.

It’s not been all bad though, my background has taught me a great deal of worth.  In my time in school I learned that bullying someone because they’re smaller, weaker or have few friends is not only wrong, but morally reprehensible.  That you should judge people based on their character, not their appearance, social standing or race.  It instilled a belief in me that wherever possible you should help others, because you never know when you might need help yourself.  It taught me that sometimes people make mistakes and that they should not, barring the most extreme of circumstances, be judged for these mistakes for the rest of their lives.  Though I must admit, that last one is still a work in progress.

Thirty-seven years into my life and I’m fully aware of my place, it’s significantly further down the social ladder than I’d like.  But just because I’m there now, it doesn’t mean I should be content and shouldn’t strive for more.  I see too many people with all sorts of wasted talents, crushed by a class system that constrains them more than it should; I’ll not settle for that and if I’m still in the same situation the day I die it won’t be for the wont of trying.

Despite all the above I must admit I’m rather partial to Runcorn, sure it’s not perfect.  But if I should end up leaving here for good one day, I will miss it nonetheless.

 

Written for the Discover Challenge post, Finding Your Place.

Being disagreeable…

This is a daily prompt response.

The right to protest, in my opinion is the cornerstone of a properly functioning democracy.  It allows us to voice our displeasure with people in positions of power, in a way that we cannot do alone.

Therefore, it confuses me when some people criticize, lambast and mock those who choose to do it.  They call them sore losers for protesting a winning candidate of an election.  They shout about how they are trying to frustrate the legitimate will of the people when they protest the result of a referendum, branding them enemies of the people.  Call them shirkers when they march in protest of attacks on worker’s rights, or cuts to public services and benefits.

They say that the marchers lost the argument, that they should just shut up and accept the things governments or big business do to them.  They say this as if winning thirty six percent of the vote gives you some sort of divine right to impose your brand of politics on the other sixty-four percent of voters who decided to vote for someone else, and that you should be able to do so without opposition or dissent.  Then when they lose elections or referenda and they decide to protest, they complain when people do the same thing to them.

The right to protest is fundamental to the good health of a democracy, perhaps then we should be more tolerant of people who choose to do it. Indeed, laude them for the courage to go out and stand up for their beliefs.

After all, sometimes you don’t realise what you had, until you no longer have it.