Recent events have got me all ranty again. The farce in the US House shows one thing and one thing only. It’s not working. It seems all too often that politicians in democracies act as though they were appointed by the party they belong to, rather than their constituents.
The current batch of MPs in the UK are oh-so-humble prior to an election and after they’ve been caught with their hands in the till but once there’s a new target on the block it’s back to a scramble to claim to have foreseen the terror and woe betide anyone who doesn’t listen to them next time.
MPs work for us. There is no agenda other than their constituents’ agenda. They don’t work for Labour, or the Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats; they work for and are paid for by the UK voters. The second they start acting as though they have some sort of leadership role or go beyond the satisfaction of those whose will they are there to represent they need knocking back down to earth. They should rarely venture beyond emptying the bins and keeping the sewers clean.
Representing people is no more complicated than that. Like a greasy door to door salesman, they might try to convince people that there is no other choice for change or for strong law and order or for freedom of speech that their manifesto promises to deliver, but they are entirely missing the point. You don’t vote for parties, you vote for people. The best politician is the one who best represents the will of their constituents, not the one that delivers the most of his own club’s policies.
If you bother to think about it, we should expect that voting down party lines happens only extremely rarely or never at all. Why should it? An MP almost never gets more than 50% of the vote which means he is the representative which most people didn’t pick. Therefore, if he is representing his constituents, rather than his particular share of voters, he should, more often than not, be found voting against his party.
The fault and problem, however, is ours. We’ve allowed the shopkeeper to tell us what we want to buy and then claim the product is ‘good’ because we bought it. Every street corner is under surveillance, GCHQ monitors mobile phone calls and e-mails and yet the politicians who devise it feign indignation and outrage when a private citizen, uses the same method to highlight wrong doing and corruption at the highest levels of government.
If it is wrong for one it is wrong for all. It is that simple. No really, it is. If you find yourself smiling and wondering at my naivety, ask yourself why I say this. Tell me when you surrendered your freedom to the government. Tell me when you were conscripted in to their war on terror, their war on freedom of information. You may be happy to be told: “Oh if you knew the truth, you’d probably disagree with us” but don’t think that kind of idiocy is acceptable to me.
Perhaps you don’t care. Maybe you think that they know best, or have access to secret sources of wisdom that you can’t know about lest someone dies. Wilful ignorance driven by fear, not knowledge based in fact.
Anonymous and Lulzsec are doing what we all did when we were kids, before we were willingly indoctrinated into the ‘how things need to work’ and ‘for the greater good’ philosophy of living in a post religious democracy. They are pointing out that these emperors really do have no clothes; nothing more sinister than that. You are of course free to dismiss it and carry on ‘thinking’ that things are best left alone, after all, no one goes into politics to make things worse… yet even when we were presented with evidence that most of them have been on the take, we sat back and watched them run around, change nothing and then tell us that now the system works; see you next year.
I can’t get my head around quite how this teenager is such a threat that he needs isolating from the rest of us for the next 10 years, nor why we are not making any fuss about it. We accept it, because they are ‘Hackers’ and we all know, don’t we, about them. But to whom is this man a threat? Who stands to lose? The wrongdoers. Who stands to gain? Everyone. His previous targets allegedly include the ‘Westboro Baptist Church’, so I’m a big fan from the outset. If he were to act wrongly, we should temper any condemnation with the knowledge that your fellow citizens are being prosecuted for the crime of publishing information about wrong doing by your employees, the people who work for you. To want him and others to stop is to want not to be told; ‘plausible deniability’ as they say on the tv (I can’t do the accent), in order to maintain the bliss that accompanies such horrific ignorance.
Should we even expect people to act ethically, or legally? Seriously, where there is a conflict between these two options, what should we do? Should we do the right thing, or the legal thing? The person who gave us the lightest glimpse at the true nature of the self-appointed ‘political class’ when he exposed the expenses details, acted illegally. But no one would say that we’d rather he’d acted legally, as if there were some superior virtue of obedience. We all have a responsibility not to perpetuate laws that seek to force people to act unethically. We should demand their repeal whenever they are tested and found to give such perverse outcomes.
However we are so childlike in our trust in our MPs that we believe their motives always to be in our interest. How many people have you spoken to who have told you that what’s legal is right or that a ‘hacker’, publishing evidence of some endemic corruption, is exactly the same as a burglar coming in to your house and stealing your cheque book? Some of us have forgotten how to tell right from wrong. The humble servant of the people and former Deputy Prime Minister the honourable Lord John Prescott moaning because his phone messages have been intercepted is not the same as Milly Dowler’s messages being intercepted. One is worse than the other. Don’t let them jump on the band wagon. Don’t let them tell you it’s the same.
We’ve allowed the free press to be gelded by the politicians, as though there is some benefit to the public, as though politicians somehow need the freedom to hide things from their constituents. Look at governments’ reactions to the hackers and to Wikileaks. On one hand they tell us that they believe in transparency and in freedom of information, while in the other hand are the keys to archives. They make laws to restrict access to information, deciding on your behalf that you’d better not know certain things.
If we wish to be sheep and follow the leader, we should always question whether these laws are for the protection of the flock, or the shepherd