- 2003: Protests against the war have no effect. The case surrounding the death of David Kelly exposes lies in the government.
- 2009: The MPs’ expenses scandal questions the integrity of politicians, and widens the gulf of ‘them and us’.
- April 2010: Allegations of corrupt postal voting question the integrity of the electoral system.
- May 2010: A coalition government formed, putting two parties into power that the majority of the UK population didn’t vote for.
- November-December 2010: Liberal Democarats and Conservative MPs vote to raise the tuition fee cap to £9000 under a three-line whip – despite mass protests (peaceful and violent).
- 2011: The Referendum on Proportional Representation offers a watered-down version, AV that is unlikely to offer any real reform.
The anger, rage and violence of the student protests show that a large part of society
- View the police as an arm of government – not independent
- Feel that the Executive is unaffected by the vote or political protest.
Talking to students after Thursday’s Parliamentary vote there’s an overwhelming repsponse that many will never vote again. Much of the votes for the Lib Dems in the 2010 election came from students. It was the first time they’d been able to vote and they were so excited to exercise their democratic right that many were turned away from polling stations that couldn’t cope with the volume of voters who turned out.
Now the Lib Dems have gone back on the promise that persuaded them to vote for the party – and next time, staying in bed or going to the pub on polling day will seem a much better use of their time.
At a North-East business I spoke to recently, only the boss (in his 50s) voted. He asked his staff (mostly in their 20s and 30s) to consider voting. They asked him ‘What’s the point?’
Are we in danger of encouraging the next generation of holding our authorities in contempt, not voting and perhaps even not protesting too?