It’s party conference season; don’t all yawn at once!

by John Darvall

It is that party conference time of year again and chances are you couldn’t give stuff.

Much like bankers, whether you like them or not, you need politicians. Yet never have we been so disengaged with politics as a nation. More people are members of the RSPB than are members of the main Westminster political parties. Birds get us going but running our country, paying tax, social responsibility, security, health, education… ‘Not me mate, I’m twitching’ or trying to give a badger with a bad cough a good home. Maybe we should elect a Great Tit or a badger to parliament. Might that get your vote?

As the political parties try and work out how they are going to get the money they need to do their work and to convince us that there ideas and policies are best for us, we the majority frankly don’t seem to care. If you can name five principles that each of the three main political parties stand for then you are better than me and, I’d venture, most of their dwindling membership and MPs.

The cost of politics is ridiculous and how any party can try and outspend the other just to make their point seems silly if not futile. An idea costs nothing and a good idea is priceless. So a political party selling its ideas and putting itself in hock to do so is, frankly, potty.

Now it looks likley that, thanks to the spat that Labour is having with the very hands that not only feed it but created it in the first place, all parties are going to have to review how they are funded and are facing taking the big money out of politics. This means it will be down to the little money, or you and me to pay for it.

If election turnout is anything to go by (and just look at the local council, Police and Crime Commissioner or Bristol Mayor elections held in the West in the last 12 months to see just how bad it has got) it all feels like paying for a gym membership you never use; a good idea at the time but on reflection, you can’t be bothered.

Here is an idea and it’s free. If you want us to vote, for us to pay for democracy then make it about something we can either believe in or campaign against. Make politics about ideas that stimulate debate and not about playing spot the miniscule difference between the parties.

Our politicians are mostly good people, drawn to public service and the real desire to make an actual difference but their respective party seems to stop all that. Most of all our politicians need to make us think, make us care, make is talk and make us debate. Some do and you can name them but what most of them do at the moment is make us think ‘what is the point’, and that is not the democracy that so many have died for to protect.