I was in a House of Commons committee room for much of yesterday, and you’ll all be relieved to know that there is no longer any water for sessions there. Given yesterday’s news (not really news, just the first time it’s been admitted) that our banks are nowhere near the target of refilled balance sheets, I suppose the Commons water was bound to go in the end.
But was there any other evidence to hand in the Palace of Westminster that our doom is at hand? Not really: I met and spoke with two MPs – diligent and concerned, don’t doubt it – but neither of them seemed that aware of how dysfunctionally unpopular the political class is across Europe.
More remarkable were the ordinary people in the room grappling with serious legal, constitutional, police and power-abuse issues. Mums imprisoned spitefully, armed police raiding family homes, people being declared in need of mental assessment for arguing with social workers, businesses being fraudulently declared insolvent, judges exceeding their powers while ignoring evidence. And volunteer intermediaries dedicated to helping those stuck in a Kafkaesque world in which the law says one thing but the authorities do another.
“It’s the system,” people kept saying, “We must change the system”. I don’t agree, I’m afraid. You have to change the culture, ethics, attitudes, dishonesty, privilege, and inflexibly dated tribalism of Britain. Just making the system tougher without doing that will simply mean more new laws – and more cynical new ways of getting round them.
As the geopolitics get nastier and the austerity bites harder, our so-called leaders will have to ask more and more of us. There seems to me at the moment no sign at all that they understand they simply aren’t going to get it.
In the same spirit from the excellent blog Political Cleanup: Government: a rhetorical question from Birmingham University Labour Students – “Why try solve society’s real problems when you can lie and create scapegoats out of the most vulnerable in society?
- Every man for himself, episode 3 (hat4uk.wordpress.com)
- McKenzie Friends @ the House of Commons – as Public Interest Advocates (mckenzie-friends.co.uk)
- Westminster Democracy Style (bellacaledonia.org.uk)