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05 November 2008 @ 11:46 pm
remember, remember...  

Think back: Queen Elizabeth spent years persecuting the Catholics (rather like her sister, the Queen before her, spent years persecuting the Protestants) and people had hoped that her successor, James I, who had a Catholic mother, would be more tolerant of their religion.  He wasn't.  A number of young men decided that the answer was to blow up the Houses of Parliament, when the King and the Parliament were inside, or so the story goes.  It's debatable exactly who was behind the gunpowder plot - perhaps people trying to raise fear of Catholics or sympathy for the government - and if the plot was even meant to succeed, with some saying the gunpowder was so old as to be useless, but Guy Fawkes was the man caught in the cellar in the early hours of November the fifth.  He was tortured and executed.

There's always someone who asks if Bonfire Night is about commemorating the foiling of the plot or honoring Guy Fawkes entering parliament with the view to making things better.  Either way, what we do is remember.  We remember that one day one man nearly succeeded in destroying the government.  When the monarch enters the parliament, once a year, the cellars are checked, not because anyone expects to find any gunpowder, but because people remember.

We remember that governments are not infallible.

I woke up early this morning to see the results of the US election and I've watched Obama's victory speech twice.  I'm thrilled with the way it all turned out, not just because Obama is the first black president, as the news readers keep harping on about, but because he's a man with ideals that I admire and ideas for change, with a fine way of expressing them.  But what I found to be absolutely fantastic was the huge amount of people that voted, of all ages and races and backgrounds.  Just the sheer number of voters.  Sometimes America is a joke to Britain.  Today it was an inspiration.

I wish people here were half as interested in elections.  We're due one and some say that we are due a change.

There is an historian's saying about British politics that governments are voted out and not in, that people grow tired of the old and wish for a change.  Please, though, think of what we'd be changing to.  Gordon Brown is not a charismatic Obama.  None of our politicians are.  But neither are we as enthusiastic about having a vote as the Americans.  We need to take an interest and actually think about what our politicians stand for.

Governments are not infallible, not the one we have now or the next, and nor will Obama's government be, because that isn't the way the world works.  But we can choose which government we have.  We can choose to make parliament better, and we don't need gunpowder to do it.

Congratulations to the folks across the pond for managing to do that.  Let's see if we can remember that we can do the same.

inksplotched on November 6th, 2008 01:25 am (UTC)
...This was fantastic.
inkvoices: true to yourselfinkvoices on November 6th, 2008 01:42 am (UTC)
Thank you. I was very carefully trying to avoid offending anyone, by insinuating that blowing things up was a good thing to do for instance, so I was thinking about how to word this all afternoon. Because, serious though it is compared to what most of my journal consists of, I really wanted to say it.

Edited at 2008-11-06 01:43 am (UTC)
opheliet: converseopheliet on November 6th, 2008 02:57 am (UTC)
That was beautifully put.

It's nice to be congratulated for once, instead of hiding in shame (America, that is.) Hopefully we'll keep this up.
inkvoices: hp:hufflepuff badgerinkvoices on November 6th, 2008 06:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you :o)

I hope you do too, because it's wonderful to watch.
♦ k a h l i a ♦: stock - hopecuban_sombrero on November 6th, 2008 07:41 am (UTC)
We went through a similar election here in Australia last year, so I really understand what you're trying to say. :) Obama, and the people who voted for him, are really helping to restore some of my faith in the world.
inkvoicesinkvoices on November 6th, 2008 06:45 pm (UTC)
It's the voting apathy of my generation that really gets to me, I think. *sigh*

And your icon? Is lovely. :o)
thesteppyone: Chess - Togetherthesteppyone on November 6th, 2008 09:42 am (UTC)
I really hope that people take the responsibility of choosing what they want for this country next time, but I really don't think it will happen. I hope that the American election and the record numbers of turn out have inspired the apathetic generation that we are in this country, to get up off our arses and take the privilege that we have been given.

You're right about our politicians, they are the older generation, and Lib Dems leader Clegg is probably the youngest, but people struggle to remember his name - I only managed his surname - and we do vote governments out as opposed to voting a new inspired party in, which is sad, but just shows that we are tired of the way things are going and that attitude 'it can't get any worse, so lets give the others a chance'. Sad but true.

Apologies for answering your comment to my post here, but I promise it's relevant! I get that traditionally, Labour are for the working class and Conservatives for the rich and aim to make them richer. However, with the recent things the Labour party have done - abolishing the 10p tax band being the main one - you don't get that sense about the Labour party now. That said the idea of a Conservative government scares me slightly, what scares me more is I've found the things coming out of Cameron's mouth sounding reasonable. I know my sister is voting conservative this time 'just to get Labour out', which, as you said, seems to be the norm. I just wish we could be iinspired to be proud of our country, and be allowed to be patriotic as well.

Sorry if I waffled, especially as I didn't mention November the 5th at all, but on that note, have you watched V for Vendetta? I highly recommend you watch it. It's based around the gunpowder plot and is about the corruption in government and brainwashing and it's fantastic.

Have a good day, mate :D
inkvoices: verbose/rambleinkvoices on November 6th, 2008 06:57 pm (UTC)
Our generation just rarely seem interested in politics or current affairs, just popular culture. I hope, too, that events in the US encourage some enthusiasm, but I wonder how many people will just say, 'yeah, but we have no Obama, so who cares?'

The problem with New Labour that, over time, they've moved away from the rather radical socialist policies they began with to a more mainstream way of looking at things. On the economic front, it's hard to promise social reform and support for the less well off when the economic situation is as bad as it is now, because the money for changes has to come from somewhere. (This is an issue that Obama is going to be faced with as well.) I get the impression that they're trying to hold onto their ideals and maybe go back towards their origins, but it is difficult. The thing with the Conservatives is that they won't try to change things at all. Oh, they'll abolish taxes and things maybe, but then where will the money come to fund things like the NHS and comprehensive schools and the loans for university tuition?

The issue of us being unpatriotic is slightly seperate to government issues, I think. People don't want to 'show off' because modesty tends to be a British trait, and patriotism is partly bound up with colonialism, war, and the idea of superiority, which we're trying to distance ourselves from. Also, do you fly the English flag or the British flag? Do you exclude Wales and Scotland and Northern Island, or do you exclude Ireland, and does that hark back to roles in The Troubles?

No worries about waffling/rambling - I'm a fan of long comments and long comment conversations. :o)

I have watched V for Vendetta actually and yes, I liked it, especially that we never do see V's face, although then I had to watch the credits to find out who the actor was because it was bugging me. *grins*
Fanartist in trainingkath_ballantyne on November 6th, 2008 12:40 pm (UTC)
Here in Aus voting is compulsory so it's always baffled me a bit.
you get fined if you don't turn up on polling day.
I don't vote because I'm a permanent resident but not a citizen. I was born in England and have never been naturalised here. I can't afford the $300 it would take.

I love the way you wrote this.
inkvoicesinkvoices on November 6th, 2008 07:01 pm (UTC)
See, voting being compulsory is a bit baffling to me, when for us it was something you fought for the right to have, not a gift you were ordered to take. Maybe it's something to do with the size of Austrailia though. I can see it being difficult, back in the day, for largely spread out groups of people to get to a polling station and not enough people turning up. Maybe the fine was to getthe turn out.

To pay to become a citizen and vote sounds awful, to be blunt. If you're a permanent resident then it's your country too.

Thank you. It took me a while to figure out how I wanted to say it, so I'm glad it works. :o)