The Green Party, like most political parties, wants people to be active citizens, concerned about the way we are governed, expressing their views on public issues and, of course, voting in elections. It becomes particularly concerned when people simply do not care about the big issues because it is obvious that people who try to ignore the political process lose out in the end. Victims of austerity, for example, who cannot be bothered to vote, are ignored by legislators just because they have given away what influence they have. They are then surprised that governments are not working on their behalf. But if we want change we shall have to do something about it.
The truth is that we cannot cut government out of our lives, especially when living in a modern state. People complain about the ‘nanny state’ but it is not state action which is the problem but the wrong sort of action. Frankly, I am happy about government, and feel that those who complain about the nanny state are mostly those who want all the benefits that the state can provide but are irked by its equally necessary disciplines. I would like to see the state collect more taxes, particularly from wealthy tax dodgers and corporations. I love the BBC and am pleased to see the license fee being efficiently collected. I approve of every penny I am asked to contribute to the NHS, a wonderful addition to our society, and sufficient reason alone to live in this country and not the USA. I am delighted that we have laws prohibiting unduly long working hours, drink driving, child labour, air and water pollution and the like. I am on the side of law and order and wonder whether we should spend more on policing, not because I have fascist tendencies, but because a lawless state, even in a small way, tends to lead to the exploitation of the weak and vulnerable.
Of course there are bad laws – some of the ‘austerity laws’ fall into that category in my opinion – and of course we have the responsibility to try and get them changed. But again, let’s not ignore the system. Let’s make it work better.