Anyone else noticed a rather increased interest in politics over the last year? I’d argue that at the end of 2008, no one really cared too much for what Brown had just bungled, and the goings on at Number 10 seemed irrelevant to most. Fast forward to late 2010, and politics is firmly on people’s radar. The protests we’ve seen in London today show us the effect that recent political decisions are having on the “masses”. Why the change?
Well, like all governments throughout history, there have been significant events that have caused a sharp rise in interest.
1- Growing economic issues
2- Unsuccessful campaigns in battle
3- A loss of trust in the political system
(N.B. One could also include an increase in the multitude of ethnic groups vying for the government’s attention).
Throughout History, these issues have put strains on even the strongest of administrations. The recession that Britain is still reeling from is being felt more than ever by your everyday Joe, as the spending cuts announced by the coalition government profoundly impact our future society. The previous bedrocks of the UK’s banking system lie in tatters before our eyes, and all of a sudden the capitalist way of life doesn’t seem to be living up to its potential.
The War in Afghanistan has divided opinion, and whilst brave men and women risk their lives in the “Concept War” that is taking place, many are still unsure as to whether we should even be there. The expenses scandal may have slipped from the headlines, but it has left a very sour taste in the mouths of voters, clearly seen by the hung parliament and subsequent coalition government we have today.
Should we be worried? History does seem to point towards an end product of such unrest, so perhaps we should. In this month, on 4th November 1995, the Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was shot dead by extremists. It was in 1605 that the famous Gunpowder Plot, and its attempt to overthrow Parliament, was thwarted at the last. On the 7th November 1917, the Bolsheviks overthrew Russian’s Provisional Government in the world’s first organised revolution. The Berlin Wall was breached on the 9th November 1989, whilst on the same day, 71 years earlier, Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated after it became clear he had lost the Great War. And finally, on the 22nd November 1963, US President John F Kennedy was assassinated by the lone gunman Lee Harvey Oswald.
Ominous? Probably not. We are British after all, and in the last few centuries Britain has on the whole, not adopted a revolutionary spirit. The riots that turned ugly in London today were a small minority, and the news footage, to me at least, suggested local London gangs were responsible for the violence, rather than prospective university students (just take a look at their outfits- sweeping generalisation but true nonetheless!)
But politics still has a lot to answer for in Britain, and they need to answer quickly.