8 May 2005

Keeping the policians honest and dealing with voter apathy

On one of the communities I frequent someone posted an entry asking for ideas on the perenial problem of how to keep politicians focused on representing their constituents and dealing with voter apathy.

Here's my response:
Unfortunately the only things I can think of are long term things and require the people to actually get off their arses and engage with the system.

  • Hold you representive accountable. Go to surgeries/advice sessions, tell them what you need/want done and what you think they should be doing. Write to them using FaxyourMP.com or WriteToThem.com so that their responsiveness will be tracked and look at their past record using TheyWorkForYou.com. Find out if they have a blog or journal (for example John Hemming, the new MP for Yardley in Birmingham, has one on blogspot). Read it and comment as appropriate.
  • Before the next election write them and tell them what you think of them and if you will be voting for or against them and why. Further, write to them at least once a year to tell them what you think of what they've done over the past year or what they did over a particular issue.
  • Get active. Communicate with others in the area. Campaign on the issues important to you. Wave placards, distribute leaflets, join a union or pressure group, put up posters, write to the local newspaper &c.

I really believe that the voters need to engage with the political system and keep contact with their representatives. If enough of us ask questions and challenge the waffle and untruths then maybe we can keep our politicians honest. Also, maybe, if people make themselves aware of the local issues they can campaign on the things that are important, not just whatever the person with the megaphone is ranting about.

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