HAYES IN THE HOUSE: By John Hayes MP
In the Ancient Greek cradle of democracy each citizen participated in every decision. Later, in democracy’s nursery, some had the right to vote and some didn’t.
Now, in our mature democracy everyone has a say as each of us chooses one of our fellows to speak in the mother of all Parliaments at Westminster.
This democratic power could scarcely be more important given that what governments do changes people’s lives and shapes our nation’s future. So, the decisions made by the people about who to entrust with their authority – for five whole years – matters to us all. General elections are not about protest votes or gimmicks, they are not even about sending messages to leaders of parties; they’re about choosing representatives to protect the national interest and promote the common good.
The trivialisation of democracy through its reduction to a series of sound-bites; the emasculation of Parliament through the influence of big media; and the diminution of the people’s representative’s confidence caused by corrosive cynicism about their motives – all weaken the power of the people, for democratic government is the people’s guardian as well as its product.
Perhaps all general elections represent turning points; that was undoubtedly true in 1945, 1979, 1997 and 2010 – and what’s been achieved since 2010 is certainly a turnaround in Britain’s fortunes that few believed possible.
To travel from economic malaise and financial collapse to an economy with the strongest growth rate in Europe; the lowest inflation of my lifetime; more people in jobs than ever before; falling fuel prices; two million apprenticeships; and record low interest rates is as extraordinary as it is impressive.
Two futures lie ahead of us; a continuation of this progress to the destination of national wellbeing and individual security, or a future which is uncertain, unstable and unsustainable. So, the choice at this election could not be more stark or more significant – the options are competence or chaos.