We are trapped in a spiral of political alienation. Politics isn’t working for us, so we leave it to the politicians. The political vacuum is then filled with heartless, soulless, gutless technocrats: under what other circumstances could political ghosts like Jack Straw, Geoff Hoon, Alistair Darling, Hazel Blears, Peter Mandelson or John Hutton remain in office? Unmolested by the public, corporate lobbyists collaborate with this empty political class to turn parliament into a conspiracy against the public. Revolted by these phantoms, seeing nowhere to turn, we withdraw altogether, granting them even richer opportunities to exploit us.
The government talks of re-igniting public enthusiasm for politics, of bringing out the vote, but balks at any measure which might make this happen. The reform of the House of Lords has again been postponed until after the next election, if at all. The promise, in Labour’s 1997 manifesto, of a referendum on electoral reform is long-forgotten. It now looks as if nothing will be done to stop MPs from moonlighting, as our representatives argue that they cannot possibly get by on £63,000 a year plus lavish expenses. I wonder whether they have any idea how that plays in a town like this.