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Rowan Cole: A failure by mainstream politicians to restore confidence in the political system will result in ill-educated thugs being elected to Parliament

Rowan Cole Rowan Cole is a Councillor for the Walton Central Ward on Elmbridge Borough Council. He is currently studying Politics at the University of Surrey.

Edmund Burke famously said: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

Should Burke have been alive today, surely he would see the relevance of that quotation to recent events. Last week marked the lowest point for this Government: elections to both local councils and the European Parliament left the Labour Party demoralised and struggling to prevent a leadership crisis.

Yet whilst this debilitation of this Government has taken the headlines, the actual consequences of these elections are ignored. The results may have been a win for the Conservative Party, but they were also a win for the BNP, UKIP, voter apathy and ignorance. The losers in the election were the public, the political system and morality. And those first losers should cause us the greatest concern; after all it is for them that the system exists.

Like many people in this country, I woke on Monday morning to the shocking news that we have allowed the repugnant BNP to achieve a voice in Europe. We have allowed a party that openly propagates hate and poor governance to gain a credible foothold in British politics. There is little point in verbally engaging with the leaders of this group; that will achieve nothing. What we must do is identify groups that are likely supporters of the BNP and educate them so they understand exactly what they are voting for; given the proper information I believe that many would rather support a mainstream party.

This ignorance I blame upon the Conservative, Labour and Liberal parties for not engaging more fully with the person on the street. The blame must also rest with every MP who has abused the system, and also with those who stood by letting them get away with it. MPs who claim for second homes and live in the Home Counties and MPs who claimed for expenses they never incurred should all be ashamed.

Voter turnout was at its lowest recorded. Who or what is to blame for low voter turnout? MPs' expenses, disillusionment with mainstream parties, ignorance and the collapse of this Government all have their part to play. All mainstream parties must now work to mitigate the effect of these scandals and restore voter confidence. If we do not we will be left with the unimaginable consequences of ill-educated thugs entering our Parliament under the guise of a genuine political mandate.

Their election should surely be as distasteful to the rest of politics as it is to me and we need to work on restoring the trust we have clearly lost from the electorate and bring those voters back into the fold. Is it now left to local Councillors and activists to correct the mistakes that have been made higher up the food chain and restore Britain’s faith in democracy and the democratic process?

I entered politics to make a difference to my local community and now I fear that every politician on every level is tarred with the same brush; the disloyalty, manipulation and scandal of some have left a scar on the rest of us. I want a general election to arrive soon and to be fought by candidates whose morality has never been questioned. I want MPs with unnecessary second homes, extortionate expenses and fraudulent claims gone. Then, and only maybe then, will we have faith in our political system restored.

This is a process that may take many years and perhaps even a decade to come to fruition. I worry that the result of the next general election could leave us with an even bigger political and moral crisis with the election of further fringe elements. We have an opportunity now to fix politics, and we cannot afford to miss it.


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