Sometimes I feel like I am turning into the world’s biggest arsehole cynic, particularly when it comes to politics in this country. The more I see of the Westminster model of politics, the more I’m gripped by a sense of utter contempt for it.
It isn’t only that it is a first-past-the-post system which is designed to deny voters a real say, but also because this system has been rigged so hard to give safe seats for party apparatchiks that a party wants to make sure is in a government.
I don’t even like cynicism. I think cynicism is entirely negative, but I see no redeeming qualities to the version of democracy that we have. It’s a stitch-up designed in back rooms to give cush jobs for the élite. And for me to take part in that system is to give it legitimacy.
I’ve told myself that as an Englishman, I can’t have an opinion about Scottish independence, but I’m rounding toward support for it. I negotiate with myself that while I shouldn’t have an opinion on whether the Scots should vote this way or that, I can hope that they vote yes from a purely English and UK perspective.
If they did vote yes, it would be such a big constitutional crisis that the remaining bits of the UK would have to bring out the maintenance kit. Maybe we then we could get something better, something more right, something more modern.
Elsewhere on the net I used the simile that we may have invented democracy, but we got stuck with the beta version of it. Most European nations had a transitional compromise with the old order. That’s why there is still a nobility in the most egalitarian country of Sweden as well as in Germany. But that nobility is entirely powerless, and whoever tries to flaunt it is considered quite lame.
That transitional period lasted a couple of decades while the other European democracies transitioned toward a more acceptably democratic system with meritocracy and proportional representation.
Here in this country, however, we’re still stuck with the beta version. Twenty per cent of our upper house, which still has power, is still dominated by clerics and hereditary peers. Prince Charles goes around and tries to influence policy, and threatens to withhold royal assent for bills.
And we still have the first-past-the-post system, which is arguably the worst form of democracy where large segments by accident or design are disenfranchised from political influence.
So yes, Scotland’s departure from the union would be such a big shock to the system for those of us who would stay in the UK that I feel they would have to do something. But then again, the people in charge of repairing the constitutional damage would be the same people who have stitched up our democracy between them.
So, maybe I’m right to become a cynic. Maybe I should just forget about participatory democracy, and hunker down and study and then just mind my business for the rest of my life. And then think back to the rosy times when I bought into that silly dream that we were actually free. I keep thinking about the title, which is a quote from Oscar Wilde. He wrote that a hundred years ago, and nothing have changed. It’s still as true.