Thursday, 2 February 2023

Pulling a lever and then being shown the door

It's an old problem. Which party do we vote for in a general election while having some confidence that political promises are still worth something after the election?
He would not put up again for Parliament. He was thinking of going back to his old work upon the Union. "Parliament is played out," he had written her. "Kings and Aristocracies have served their purpose and have gone, and now the Ruling Classes, as they call themselves, must be content to hear the bell toll for them also. Parliament was never anything more than an instrument in their hands, and never can be.

What happens? Once in every five years you wake the people up: tell them the time has come for them to exercise their Heaven-ordained privilege of putting a cross against the names of some seven hundred gentlemen who have kindly expressed their willingness to rule over them. After that, you send the people back to sleep; and for the next five years these seven hundred gentlemen, consulting no one but themselves, rule over the country as absolutely as ever a Caesar ruled over Rome.

What sort of Democracy is that? Even a Labour Government--supposing that in spite of the Press it did win through--what would be its fate? Separated from its base, imprisoned within those tradition-haunted walls, it would lose touch with the people, would become in its turn a mere oligarchy. If the people are ever to govern they must keep their hand firmly upon the machine; not remain content with pulling a lever and then being shown the door."

Jerome K. Jerome - All Roads Lead to Calvary (1919)


DiscoveredJoys said...

Labour has not been separated from its base... it threw the working man aside as it made the anxious middle class its new base. It didn't bother telling the working man though.

An ironic consequence is that the Conservatives are pivoting slowly to incorporate the working man into their plans (although have yet to be convincing).

Scrobs. said...

"Even a Labour Government--supposing that in spite of the Press it did win through--what would be its fate? "

Aaaah, 1919, a good year...

The BBC were 'formed' several years later of course!

A K Haart said...

DJ - yes, Labour was never really keen on the working class except in terms of its target voters. I'm not sure where the Conservatives currently see their target voters.

Scrobs - how things change, now it's because of the Press.

Peter MacFarlane said...

How very prescient.

And from such a source, too; I had him down as just a very clever comic writer - seems I should have looked more deeply.

A K Haart said...

Peter - it's a while since I read him, but I enjoyed some of his lesser known work. Not all of it though - rather mixed I thought.