Silence is consent. Shhh.

I’m watching Question Time, the weekly political panel show, on the BBC.  I probably shouldn’t blog while watching.  I’ll probably write something I’ll regret.  But here goes anyway…

There seems to be a theme.  It’s all Gordon’s Fault.

The world economic situation was him.

The situation with MPs defrauding their expenses system is his fault.

The ‘young people’, you know, those aliens that roam our streets, stab each other and generally causing havoc, that’s his fault too.

We’re happy to blame others.  We’re happy to lay responsibility at the feet of the government.

But it’s just as much our fault as Gordon’s.

I think it’s fine to have a go at the government, but it’s not fine to abdicate all responsibility for every part of our lives to our elected representatives.

It’s interesting that the discussion has turned to a TV company’s duty of care to participants in reality shows.  There’s an outcry about how Susan Boyle was treated, mostly from the same people who bought the newspapers and watched the TV shows who dragged her through the mire.

Big Brother starts tonight.  Another chance for people to watch people be systematically abused for our amusement.

No-one forces us to watch, but we do.  No-one forced us to borrow more than we could afford, but we did.  No-one ever said that MPs shouldn’t be watched, but we were happy to put an X in a box as though that somehow ends our responsibility in a participative democracy.

There are reports that voter turnout could be as low as 28% or as ‘high’ as 50% in today’s elections for the European Parliament.  So, rather than taking action when we are dissatisfied once again we have chosen to disengage.

Why on earth do we think that things will change if we do and say nothing?

Silence is consent.  Shhhh.  It’s ok.  Someone else will sort it out.

7 thoughts on “Silence is consent. Shhh.”

  1. Or.. silence is just not knowing what to do with your despair.

    i didn’t realise there was an election taking place at all until about two days go.
    i wouldn’t have known where to even begin looking if i’d decided to vote today.

    Fair enough, that largely reflects the fact my head floats on a cloud somewhere, but to be that oblivious to it taking place at all??

    Britain’s Got Talent might have been a bit of pointless fun, but we all knew about it.
    Turn on the TV? It was there.
    Pass the papers in a supermarket? There.
    Walk by a bus stop? There.
    Log onto MSN? Browse around on Twitter? Open Youtube? There.

    Folk always talk about how outrageous it is that we vote in millions for “reality” TV shows but ignore the opportunity to vote in elections.. but it’s reality TV that’s gone out of its way to grasp our attention. It’s reality TV that shoved itself in our faces with publicity, gave us something to relate to with ‘real’ stories from ‘real’ people (though, arguably, the government’s done that lately too.. just with the wrong sort of stories), and then made it as simple as it could possibly be for us to vote. Reality TV got itself seen wherever we looked. Politics didn’t quite succeed at doing the same.

    Maybe that’s just me being ignorant and lazy. i’m happy to admit that & work at correcting it if it is.
    But either 50-72% of elligible voters are all ignorant and lazy too.. or there’s something a little bit long.

    Either way.. silence isn’t always consent.

  2. Good point Laura, I think there has been a woeful lack of campaigning by any of the parties for these elections. I went to vote and there was only one representative of the SNP at the polling station. Maybe their apathy has rubbed off on the general public? I found it odd that there was hardly publicity about what each party was standing for in these elections, surely they had the chance to do some positive campaigning rather than the constant excuses we’re hearing at the moment.

    I have to agree with with you as well Stewart, the ‘lets blame Gordon for everything’ drives me bananas. Yes the leader of the party has overall responsibility for the members in it but let’s be realistic, it can’t all possibly be just one persons fault!

  3. I think you’re both right about a lack of campaigning and I’ve heard of a few people who didn’t get voting cards even though they are registered to vote. I think what bothers me more is that there is no lower limit on how many votes you need to get elected. So no matter how few people vote the MEPs will be elected and take their seat. Of course parties need to take some responsibility for telling us about what they stand for but I think my point is that political parties aren’t in some kind of political talent show and I wish they, and we, would stop acting like they are.

    I don’t care if Gordon Brown looks serious. Quite frankly with the state the economy is in he should be looking serious. If he was wandering around looking jolly he’d get kicked for that too. I want politicians to do their job and stop worrying about who I’m going to vote for NEXT time. I’m more interested in THIS time. I want them to make good and fair laws, to look after the poor and to manage the economy.

    But that doens’t mean that I don’t have a responsibility to make sure the laws they pass are fair, to help the poor and to contribute to economy (or come up with a better way of doining it) and to find out what people stand for. They work for us. We pay their wages, we elect them to office and we can and should tell them what’s important to us rather than waiting for them to tell us what is good for us/them to get re-elected.

    Make Povert History is a great example. Millions came together to call for the end of global poverty. And then went home. And haven’t done anything about it since. Politicians are scared of us. Especially lots of us. But that kind of pressure has to be sustained. I worry that we just move on… like from Britain’s Got Tallent to Big Brother, easily distracted by the illusion of choice and involvement.

  4. Stewart

    I’ve been reading your blog for a few weeks (linked to it from John Orr’s). I enjoy reading it.

    With regards “it’s all Gordon’s fault”, it’s much easier to blame others than take personal responsibility. I think we all see that in all walks of life to a greater or lesser extent.

    I can guarentee more people voted for the act that come last in Britian’s got talent’s final than voted in the UK at the European elections, or am I being really cynical?!

  5. And as one with a basically rational approach to life I find the current appraisal of Brown as Chancellor and PM woefully lacking.

    Actually, I think talent shows are a bit of fun, as long as reactions to them do not get out of hand – I think that, basically, it is great that somebody with a learning difficultly gets to be seen as somebody who can DO something and not just as a ‘poor unfortunate’. It is the lack of all self control in reaction to such things which causes the trouble – it is the newspapers with the foot in the door, because th readers want it.

    But, but but –I have to say I’m with you Stewart. I can think of little less Christian than the ‘Lets blame’ culture. And I think that you are right to like these very disparate issues like this – it s all about our abandoning responsibility for ourselves.

    The worst sermon in ages I heard began with a pop at Fred the Shred – it would have been far better to begin with a pop at all those (like me) who have benefited from a rise in house prices. We are the two sides of one coin. And if we cannot start in a Christian context, then were????

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