Saturday, 14 July 2012

Where Are My Legions?

It is said that the Labour Party think that it has lost five million voters since 1997 and wonders where they have gone.  The general idea seems to be to reclaim them for the party and have them back in the voting booths.  Or at least doing multiple postal votes where they can get away with it.

This could be difficult in that, amongst other things, it involves a mass resurrection, perhaps on the lines of Stanley Spencer’s famous painting.  Because many of those born before 1950 have now shuffled off the mortal coil either to be up there voting for the Celebrity Saint of the Year or down there voting for Footballer of the Year,

They have been replaced by others born after, say, 1980.  These would have been infants in the 1980’s and whilst some might have been brought up to believe that Margaret Thatcher was wrong and others that she was right, I suspect that the great majority would have been fed an intellectual diet of pop and media claptrap.

Also, they would have been reared in a world where debt and consumption was good.  When politics and public events did impinge on their passing consciousness from the mid 1990’s onward they would have been aware of continuing sleaze, deceit, confusion and a world where morals came a long way behind making the money.

On the other hand their pre 1950 elders are more likely to have regarded debt as bad, savings as necessary and straight dealing required of public and financial services.  They grew up in a different world of food supply and costs, before antibiotics and where the patterns of family and local loyalties were quite different.

In the past it may have been conventional for many to attach themselves to a political party as part of the pattern of loyalties expected of them but over the decades this has gone along with other past loyalties.  Also the right to vote is now taken for granted whereas before it had been won only recently by many.

As in the UK we are now well removed from Empire, traditional industry and work habits have radically changed and we are bombarded with marketing that tells us that brands and particular celebrities are the crucial things.  Politics for many of the youngest seems almost a tawdry side show outside the big tent of the circus of our lives.

Voting may now be seen in terms of just another consumer option and not the most important one.  After all if Westminster is no longer the centre of our economic and political world, never mind the “real” world of our media and communications, then why bother too much, if at all?

But the world is changing and in ways that few understand.  What an electorate is faced with now is groups of people who not only do not really govern but do not know how to.  So if more do not vote, do not attach themselves to major parties and take little interest in what actually goes on, then what happens to democracy.

Ancient Rome rid itself of the Kings to become a republic.  When that dissolved into chaos they found themselves with an Emperor, Augustus.  He soon found the limits to Imperial Power when Publius Quinctilius Varus marched into Germany who lost the 17th, 18th and 19th Legions in the Teutoberg.

For the remainder of his days many times he would cry out “Where are my legions?”  Our political parties may find themselves in the same situation.  Suddenly, we may have an electorate that is neither interested in politics nor indeed voting.

Then what?


  1. "Then what?" For the "legions" who would rule the world, fait accompli, sadly.

  2. 3 masks same face thats politics of today

  3. "Politics for many of the youngest seems almost a tawdry side show outside the big tent of the circus of our lives."

    They may be right too, but it isn't healthy.