Barlow's Beef: Election fever - I don't think so


Brought up in a staunch Labour household by a father dedicated to the union he served for 32 years I should be excited by the forthcoming election. My father never missed a party conference and I'd listen enthralled to his account.

I loved his passion and commitment. There were no taboo subjects in our house everything was up for discussion. My dad never took umbrage at an apposing view. Shop stewards, agitators, union officials would gather in our front room and argue into the early hours in no-holds barred debates.

I was immensely proud of my dad. Despite his somewhat restricted vocabulary he told it exactly as he saw it. When my dad made a statement he believed it to be the truth. When it wasn't he apologised with dignity and never made excuses.

That was the backdrop to the politics I grew up with. No family in our neighbourhood was indifferent to an election. It was an unmissable opportunity to fight their case and by hell they did.

Today, the apathy is tangible. While those within the system will be enthralled much of the electorate remains unmoved. Their concerns will remain largely unaddressed in a society where the most important issues are taboo.

Any attempt to discuss a sensible and sustainable immigration policy is likely to brand the speaker racist- a banner of political suicide.

The intimidation felt by local communities by the habitual invasion of lawless travellers is largely ignored.

Public consultations that concluded with overwhelming rejection of plans to invade the greenbelt have been swept aside by political dogma.

The EU, a body sufficiently corrupt that no accountancy practice on earth will audit their accounts, raises no comment.

Politicians have only themselves to blame for our cynicism. Conviction politics has been replaced by expediency. Few MP's resign on a point of principle. Deny everything until faced with incontrovertible evidence is today's dictum.

Disingenuous phrases like 'over-firm denial' and 'economical with the truth' are used to mitigate outright lies and a Prime Minister who should have stood trial in The Hague became our 'Peace' Envoy. (Explain that to your grandkids.)

The enormity of the MP's expense scandal hardly registered before an 'Independent' Authority was appointed and swiftly determined that nothing less than a ten per cent pay rise was sufficient for MP's while everyone else could manage with one.

So, sadly no, I am not excited about the forthcoming election. Like most voters I'm tired of the self-serving hypocrisy. My father would have died of shame at the obfuscation and deceit we see today.

Those within politics will no doubt be wetting themselves with anticipation, if that's not being economical with the truth. The rest of us will make an over-firm denial and watch Bake Off.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of

Barlow's Beef, Vic Barlow


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Nick Jones
Tuesday 24th March 2015 at 2:53 pm
Vic, I suspect in many instances its more egotistic than obfuscation.. Why aren’t we all politicians ? and maybe more existential as opposed to being altruistic, however 'others' gave their life so we could voice and demonstrate a broad spectrum of opinions. Wear what political colours you like, its not a perfect system, but probably better than the majority of places in the world, so let’s pay it some regard and not forget the value of a vote. Speaking to a friend ( Secondary school teacher ) in Scotland he was surprised at the level of interest and concern shown by a large number of 16 yr olds in the political decision recently placed before them. So the decision now is the same as ever, its about creating a better future, not a better cake !!
Meryl Spencer
Tuesday 24th March 2015 at 4:25 pm
But those Scottish 16yr olds, and the rest of Scotland, had something worthwhile to vote for - their independence!! I would imagine that if we had something worthwhile to vote for eg whether we stay in or leave the EU, then many more people would be interested. But as it is no one trusts politicians from any party, they are all as bad as each other and will promise us anything before an election!! So I'll be joining Vic , probably going out for a good dog walk to avoid canvassers!!
Philip Barton
Wednesday 25th March 2015 at 5:08 pm
I declare an interest in that I am standing for election for Cheshire East but that not withstanding I listened to five Live today (the only channel worth the time) and they interviewed long standing MPs standing down at this election and this was more uplifting and honest. The truth is that the media does us great disservice and creates the apathy from half truths. As these old lags said 99% of MPs are there because they want to make a difference and work together cross party to do some incredible things. All this is not newsworthy because it does not sell papers. Far more attention is made of the errors and gaffs on both sides - but as my old dad said the guy who never made a mistake never did anything. But make a mistake today and the Hyenas bay for blood - who would be a politician. Fortunately a few brave people still think it worthwhile.
Vic Barlow
Wednesday 25th March 2015 at 6:19 pm
"99% of MPs are there because they want to make a difference and work together cross party to do some incredible things."

99% of MP's also knew about 'flipping' your stated home to avoid capital gains tax whilst 99% of the electorate had never heard of the practice.

The media didn't invent this.
Nick Jones
Wednesday 25th March 2015 at 7:19 pm
Phil, I wish you well, Some of the MPs you refer to standing down though are jumping before being pushed, others irrespective of tribal colours have served their electorate well... It’s this latter honesty integrity and altruistic conduct that sets a barrier some failed to clear..... But it is the media that did the public a great service notifying the taxpaying public of; The expenses scandal, House flipping, Cash for questions, Lyme Green, Local Plan... etc. I’m not sure any of these were merely ‘gaffs’ though. Working together across party lines as you suggest takes politics out of representation, sometimes that’s no bad thing, but it normally takes a catastrophe of some sort before this occurs. Mistakes of a minor nature are always forgiveable in my book if all is declared, (We all make them) but bluster, deceit, concealing conduct and the truth isn’t. For the brave people who still think it worthwhile, and can make that required difference, please accept the responsibility afforded you by representation. In our democracy, if you’re old enough to vote, you’re old enough to care.
‘Quis custodiet ipsos custodes’ Now I'll also take the dogs for a walk !
David Jefferay
Wednesday 25th March 2015 at 9:15 pm
I'm not surprised that there was great enthusiasm amongst the Scottish 16 year olds at the referendum, I remember being very excited about voting for the first time. However, the novelty quickly wore off and since then there have been at least a couple of elections when I couldnt, in good conscience, vote to put any of the parties into power so I didn't.

I'm sure the majority of politicians are actually are honest (well, as honest as any other random sample of the public) but someone being honest and just getting on with their job unfortunately doesn't sell papers.

...I think the safest thing you can do with your vote is to, ahem, vote for an independent candidate!

PS I suppose I ought to declare an interest too!
John Clegg
Wednesday 25th March 2015 at 9:56 pm
And "99% of MPs are there because they want to make a difference and work together cross party to do some incredible things" is a good sound bite but most new MPs are compromised / leant on / whatever by the whips and the general toe-the-party line comes into play. I think that those interviewed on 5 Live earlier - who included 2 lords, I guess - were from an intake, a generation where they could be elected and take their constituents' issues to the top. I wouldn't be surprised if newer younger MPs who may have been idealogically-driven in earlier stages of their careers but, in the rush to get on, Blair-style, they then become party foot-soldiers.
Cameron said "no top-down re-organization of the NHS". Then when he was elected, proceeded to organize what looked suspiciously like a re-organization. Blair made no mention of starting unwinnable wars when he was elected with large majorities.
So we, the electorate, should properly be engaed with politics so that if they don't hold their election pledges, we can call them in. Or if they begin to enact something unexpected and unwanted, again they can be called to order.