HAYES IN THE HOUSE: Democracy
It has become dangerously fashionable to disparage democracy. Perhaps as a result of the spiteful cynicism that has been given space by social media, anyone standing for election or battling for a social cause is considered fair game.
Whereas, once, integrity was assumed to prevail until the opposite was certain- rather as innocence is taken as read until guilt is proven - these days there are critics and cynics who assume that everyone who seeks public office must be mad, bad or dangerous to know.
In fact, all my experience of politics – local and national – suggests the opposite. Regardless of Party labels, those who choose to stand and serve are motivated by a genuine desire to make places about which they care better, (or at least to stop things from getting worse!).
In this light, I would like to congratulate all those who were elected last week to serve their local communities as councillors. I hope the election winners approach their duties with patience, humility and passion, as I have no doubt that they will. But more than that, I would like to congratulate – whether they won or lost - all those that took time out of their busy lives to stand for election. Democracy depends on involvement, underpinned by the determination to represent others. Such personal commitment is at the heart of our representative system.
Of course, there are many occasions upon which we grow frustrated and annoyed by things said and done in the mother of all Parliaments. Such feelings are particularly understandable at the present time. Whilst decoupling the UK from the vast bureaucracy of the EU was never going to be easy, few would claim that it has gone as well as it might have.
However, throughout history, the rigour and stability provided by representative democracy has been unparalleled in its success. It is an enormous blessing that, whatever our political persuasions, as demonstrated again last week, we can rest easy knowing that every vote can be made freely, registered fairly and counted openly. Very few foreign countries could say the same.
The UK’s parliamentary system allows MPs to build a personal and local relationship with their constituents, taking up cases and solving problems for those they live alongside, thousands of whom they come to know personally. It also enables politicians to delve deeper into complicated issues before making consequential decisions always mindful of the national interest and common good.
There are scores of nations in which citizens are not free. Instead, decent people are compelled or coerced into submission by tyrants and dictators. One only has to look at Venezuela to see the devastating damage and desecration caused by radical communist zealotry’s destruction of democracy. Even in many of the countries that hold elections, they are far from free and fair!
Politicians may disagree vehemently as they employ vastly different approaches in pursuit of vastly different objectives, but I remain as convinced today as I did when I first actively engaged politics at the tender age of 14, that almost all those who enter public life do so motivated by the betterment of the people.