Matt Falloon

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Apathy in the UK

September 30, 2009

It sometimes feels like the most important thing in the world, when a big party conference lands on a British town and the political classes, media and lobby groups clash in a swarm of policy and rhetoric.

But outside the Labour party conference in Brighton, not everyone feels that way.

Politics in Britain is far from top of the agenda.

The recession and expenses scandal haven’t helped. But there is also a perception that whoever runs the country is just a distant manager who never changes anything for the better.

“Every party that gets in — they all go the same way,” says John Lewis, a 42-year-old oil industry worker. “We need someone with some common sense.”

Voter apathy is a big problem and will likely play some part in deciding the outcome of next year’s election. Some don’t want to vote as a protest, others have just lost faith in the system.

“I used to be really pro-political but I don’t even watch the news anymore,” said Peter Duke, a 29-year-old university administration manager. “For the first time in my life, I don’t want to vote.”

But it is also clear that the big political parties are struggling to explain what sets them apart.

Sara Richards, a 40-year-old mum, said she doesn’t “feel that we’ve got any real different options”.

Politicians have clearly got their work cut out to get the vote out.

5 comments so far

[...] article source: http://blogs.reuters.com/matt-falloon/?p =24 [...]

- Posted by Apathy in the UK 

Vote Green as by now most people will at last acknolewdge that something needs to be done to save us from ourselves. Our planet is in dire straits – party is over.
All politicians are cowards on environmental issues because they know that if they do stuff that is unpopular they will be voted out… only the Greens spell things out as they are.
And above all stop encouraging natality through taxation whoever rules as we’ll end up fighting each other for lack of space and resources.

- Posted by Esther Phillips-Constans

Remember the words of the sage….If a politician is breathing – then they’re lying!

- Posted by William Fletcher

So maybe time to change from party politics altogether if it bores everyone to death? Is there an alternative single party state system that would be more professional, but somehow not a dictatorship. I doubt such an ideal exists. In the end, even if only 20% of the people voted, the parties still have to scramble for that 20% and that is what keeps them in check and the worst excesses of corruption at bay. The system works it is just that current party’s have essentially been the same for 10 years or more. Maybe labour swinging a bit to the left is not such a bad thing to at least start differentiating things a bit. They should fight for this, and win or lose, it is better for us all in the end to at least keep the system alive?

- Posted by Russell

The ruling party always relies on people exactly like Peter [who don't like the status quo but can't be bothered going to the polling station to vote them out] to help them stay in power. What a fool.

- Posted by nick

Of course there is apathy, we live in a country where you are paid to do nothing, you are paid to have numerous children and the rights of every individual to not contribute are enforced by human rights lawyers out to make a pot of cash. In the UK, the Motorist and the Terrorist are treated with the same distain by those in authority. The Police target drivers as it is easier – pull a 40 year-old woman for doing 35 in a 30 zone and it’s a quick £60 in the coffers. Chase down a thug who victimises a family to the point of suicide and it’s not worth it. Bless ‘em, they had a hardupbringing, shouts the human rights lawyer who smells the sweet aroma of £££’s.

Until we have a state that rewards hard work, rewards those who work and merely sustains those who choose not to, we will always have apathy. The hard decisions need to be made – benefits paid in vouchers that can only be redeemed against selected goods – not fags and booze. Fuel duty cut for those who commute OR a proper, well-priced and integrated public transport system. Try getting anywhere outside of a major city and you’ll see what I mean.

Finally, what’s the point anyway? Federal Europe has managed to conquer Britain, meaning any laws passed here will have little or no clout in a few years.

Must go, the thought Police want a word…

- Posted by Adam K
  • About Matt

    "I cover all aspects of government policy from the British parliament, but concentrate on Number 10, fiscal policy at the Treasury, and monetary policy at the Bank of England. I am based in our parliament office in Westminster and in our UK bureau in East London."
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