We're British politicians.. no criticism please!
He points the finger at internet users for fuelling a crisis in the relationship between politicians and voters. In a recent interview with the BBC he stressed he was speaking as a private citizen and not a government spokesman. Well, it might be convenient for him to cover his backside with that caveat but what chance do other "private citizens" have of having their thoughts broadcast to the world in an article on the BBC website? Having said that, I am glad that he did use his position as part of the government machine to confirm the breathtaking disdain with which the Labour Party treats those who dare to criticise it and their policies.
Mathew Taylor stated:
"We have a citizenry which can be caricatured as being increasingly unwilling to be governed but not yet capable of self-government," Mr Taylor told the audience.
Like "teenagers", people were demanding, but "conflicted" about what they actually wanted, he argued.
They wanted "sustainability", for example, but not higher fuel prices, affordable homes for their children but not new housing developments in their town or village."
Yes we want sustainability, we are a responsible electorate. However, we already pay just about the highest tax and duty on our fuel in the entire world. Car travel is a necessity for large numbers of us, not a luxury. What makes the government think that, by increasing those duties and taxes even further, we will use appreciably less fuel? Surely if price is a major factor then we would already be using less fuel per head than most other countries. If raising fuel prices yet again is such a good idea, then why not get Tony to try and persuade his pal, George Bush, that he should triple fuel prices in the USA? After all, their carbon emissions per person are more than twice than emissions per person in the UK.
Yes, we want affordable housing for our children, but we wouldn't need many new housing developments if our existing housing stock wasn't being filled by the hundreds of thousands of people that this government allow into our country each year.
Mr Mathews then went on to say:
"What is the big breakthrough, in terms of politics, on the web in the last few years? It's basically blogs which are, generally speaking, hostile and, generally speaking, basically see their job as every day exposing how venal, stupid, mendacious politicians are."
So there you have it! It's not the fault that our politicians are being venal, stupid and mendacious, it's the fault of you and I on the internet for actually exposing them for what they really are!! It is interesting to note that he doesn't seek to defend them against these charges, it is good to see that, at least he doesn't insult our collective intelligence by trying to defend the indefensible.
If politicians did not give the impression that they were open to bribery and corruption, then we, on the internet, would not be left with that impression. If they didn't confirm that they are open to bribery and corruption, as witnessed in the peerages for loans scandal and the Blunkett passport debacle, then we, internet users, would not have proof that they are open to bribery and corruption.
He suggested that: "Government also needed to "develop new forms of consultation and engagement that are deliberative in their form and trust citizens to get to the heart of the difficult trade-offs involved."
Well Mr Taylor, how about Government using the existing forms of consultation, that they have already set up, in a way which is seen to be fair and open?
I am referring, in particular, to the sham of the consultation process concerning the Government proposals to criminalise possession of some pornographic pictures. The Consultation document itself was biased and misleading in the extreme. The Government, which has previously put an emphasis on evidence based policy making, admits that there is no evidence to support their proposals. They ask the public to respond to their biased consultation and the public do so, in good faith. Is it any wonder, therefore, when the vast majority of those who responded put detailed and solid arguments forward as to why this new law should not be introduced, that the public feel disillusioned and betrayed by their politicians when they decide to press ahead with the new law anyway?
The Government appears only to want the public to be involved in the consultation process when the public agrees with what the Government propose. Despite the Consultation document being misleading and downright dishonest in places, more than 71% of individuals who responded were against the Government proposals. To ignore the opinion of the public, after you have asked the public for their input is not only undemocratic, it is a betrayal of the trust that those responding, gave to the Government. Is it any surprise, therefore, that people see politicians as mendacious and feel that their voices are not being listened to?
When people have spent time and energy responding and engaging in a Government consultation, to have those views ignored is obviously going to lead to resentment. It is obviously going to lead to a lack of faith and a breakdown of trust in the Government.
Once people have explored the avenue of getting involved with the consultation process and still find that their views, along with those of the vast majority, are ignored, perhaps Mathew Taylor can suggest what we do next. I have written to the Home Office to complain about the consultation process and not received a reply. I have written to my MP, who will no doubt tow the Party line and vote for the new law. I have written to five Lords and received just one short acknowledgment in response.
What else is there left for me to do Mr Taylor? Please tell me how else the majority of people in this country can show their disapproval of a proposed new law and get their Government to listen to their views? And don't feed me the line that, as a Democracy, we get our chance to voice our opinions at the ballot box every four or five years. The current Government made no mention whatsoever about these proposals in their election manifesto, yet within a few weeks of being elected, proposals for this new law were put forward in the House of Commons.
You say that people should not use the internet to voice their criticism of the Government. You say that blogs should not be used to expose lies and deceit of politicians. You say that, instead, they should become involved in the consultation process with Government. Well, maybe you are preaching to the wrong people. Maybe you should be telling the Government that they should be listening to those who do take them at their word and have the faith to become involved in the consultation process. Trust is a two-way street, Mr Taylor, and when our trust and faith is betrayed so blatantly and so dismissively, is it any great surprise that people resort to venting their frustration and spreading their disallusionment across the internet?
It is the only way we have left to make our views known.