Saturday, July 29, 2006

Opposition vacuums

Doing some sums the other day I realised that I have been politically involved to some extent for just over 40 years. I started fairly young mind, I actually still have the party membership card to prove it.

Not that I’ve been a party member for that long, but one way and another the passion manifests itself.

After all that time I am still constantly amazed. Not be the voters, there is not so much democracy in the world that voters have a great deal of real choice.

What really amazes me is that bad governments continue to be re-elected. I’m not talking about governments whose policies I disagree with, either. I mean manifestly bad government, ones with a rack record of corruption and mismanagement.

Two spring to mind at the moment. The first from my old home town of Sydney Australia:

The NSW Labor government has an appalling record, by any standards. Barely a week goes by without a scandal wafting out of the old parliament house. Ask most people in NSW what they think of their government and the answer will be in good Australian and probably unprintable.

The second is Britain, where another Labor party is holding the reigns of power against enormous public ill feeling. Tony Blair, once the pin up boy has become the ‘stick it to him’ boy. He ranks with his buddy George W in the polls.

But here is the rub, both these malodorous government will probably be returned when they face election again. The reason why is probably the same as reason they are so deep in scandal; they have no opposition.

Both have ruled for a decade or more. I can recall being at a protest in front of Sydney’s parliament, seeking to stop a building know as ‘the toaster’ being built within spitting distance of the Sydney Opera House.

The developers won and an eyesore graces one of the historically important historic precincts. But the point of that story is that my former wife turned to me and said loudly, “I can’t see anyone from the opposition here.”

I cringed as I watched the then leader of the state Liberal’s, Peter Collins turn and look at us. She still didn’t know.

Nothing has changed, NSW has a different Liberal leader now, and the voters still don’t know who the hell he is.

Britain’s Conservatives aren’t much better off. If voters know who David Cameron is they don’t seem to care much for him or his party. Only 23 per cent of voters approve of the Government's record, the lowest figure recorded since Labour came to power in May 1997. But Conservatives need to be building their support and instead it is slowly draining away.

So why don’t voters find an alternative, if they don’t like the main choices? Because in both cases major parties have made the laws which virtually ensure one or the other will receive a majority, or close to it. They hold the monopoly on power and are not about to let go of that too easily.


Anonymous said...

How could you forget Bush? ;-)

It's maddening that we keep electing these losers. But you're right - they have a stranglehold on the process. Nothing can change until we find a way to break it.

Cartledge said...

Abi, I am so wordy I left out many great examples. Bloody sad.