Thanks very much for your letter which was delivered today. I must say how refreshing it is to have a senior politican contact a member of the electorate in this fashion, it has oft been a complaint of mine that politicians are distant figures, detached from reality, surrounded by an army of SpAds and completely disconnected from those they claim to represent.
I sometimes get a little angry when writing about politics, I suppose it is because I become so frustrated and feel so powerless, it is almost as if my opinon and my voice are an irrelevance. I will attempt to keep my temper in this letter, as I figure you are unlikely to pay much attention if I employ one or two of the more colourful metaphors which can be common in the blogosphere.
So, shall we start with my concerns?
I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm a little scared, Ed. Actually, I'm quite a lot scared. Not by 'hoodies' or 'yobs' roaming the streets, not by the threat of 'cuts' to 'front-line' services, nor by the prospect of a 'privatised' NHS. What scares me is what little voice I do have is being ever more marginalised. I hear talk of a 'post-democratic' age, and it chills me to the bone. It is easy, perhaps even lazy, to draw comparisons with the European dictators of the mid-twentieth century, but I understand why these comparisons are drawn. I'm talking about the European Union, of course. I'm not going to stamp my feet and make demands, but I must point out that we were never really given the option to vote on this political union.
It may be fair to say that this was clear when the referendum on the common market was held, after all, how much more explicit can 'ever closer union' be? But it was hidden in plain sight, there were weasel words used, perhaps the politicians at the time were not being entirely open with us. I'm not demanding we leave the EU, but I think it fair and proper that the electorate be given one last chance to pass judgement on this project once and for all. The Lisbon treaty is the vital link between a trading block and a federal European state.
Now Mr. Cameron gave me, us, a cast-iron promise to give us a referendum on Lisbon. He lied to us, Ed. He looked us square in the eye and lied to us. I will never, ever, trust the Conservative party again. You really could show that you stand for democracy and the sovereignty of the British public and parliament, by allowing us an in-or-out vote, once and for all to decide our fate.
I am also concerned about the levels of spending and debt which has been, is, and will continue to be wildly more than we can afford. I speak as a public servant who did not go on the march in London the other weekend. Whilst I may sound like a turkey voting for Christmas, I cannot in all good conscience support a programme where we condemn our children to penury just so a section of society can continue living in the manner to which they have become accustomed. It is not fair, and from what I gather, Ed, I understand that fairness is important to you. Is it fair that many people will lose their jobs? No. However, I sumbit that it is less fair to saddle our unborn children with a massive debt so we can remain in clover. I've seen your party speak with great passion and strength of feeling about tuition fees saddling young adults with crippling debts when they graduate from university, so why is it fair to saddle those even younger with a greater debt?
What else concerns me?
I'm concerned at the level of interest that politicians take in every aspect of our lives. We cannot seem to do anything without some restriction, prohibition, regulation or advice or suggestion from politicians or interested professionals. It just isn't warranted, Ed. You and your class have to learn that we do not belong to you, the NHS, the LEA, the State or anyone but ourselves. You simply cannot go around browbeating us like this. If history about these islands of ours tells you anything it is that we do not respond well to being dictated to, just ask King Charlie no-head or Tumbledown Dick, or the poor old Roman chap who was stood on the pallisade at Verulamium as the Iceni came thundering into view. I know it is done with the very best of intentions, but you have to let us make our own mistakes. What would have happened if your mother had prevented you from going to Corpus Christi or the LSE because she didn't think it was good for you?
What do I hope for?
I hope that I can be left to live my life in peace, free from interference, free from registration, regulation, licencing, monitoring, evaluation, means testing, investigation, interference, hectoring, nannying and Bono from U2 (I really hate that guy, and Ed, he, Sting, Lennox, Geldof and Chris Martin don't speak for the youth anymore than that mad fellow with the hook speaks for Muslims).
I hope to be given a say, a proper say, not some half-hearted attempt whenever an election, be it national, local or European, rolls around.
I want to feel valued. But I don't, I feel like a serf, I feel like my sole purpose is to toil in the field to ensure the continued prosperity of the lord of the manor. You can change that, but do you have the cojones, Ed?
I see you want some ideas. OK here's a few:
As mentioned before, give us an in/out referendum on Europe. Watch your popularity sky rocket if you make it a stated policy. Your name will be mud in Brussels, but the people in Brussels don't vote for you. If the referendum says stay in, you can devote us to the project with a new vigourous zeal and the Eurocrats will love you, if it says come out, then their opinion will be of no relevance.
We have to cut jobs in the public sector, it is bitter tasting, but true. Set a 3:1 policy, for every front-line worker sacked in national or local government employ (that is someone with regular public facing duties), three people who do not work on front-line services must go. Hit the managers and hit them hard, they are wasterels on a titanic level.
Stop forcing kids through exams if they don't suit the system. It isn't the kids' fault, it is the system. Three GCSE's should do it, get them trained by proper craftsmen and tradesmen, it is industry that made our country great, it can be again, but you can't have cookie cutter children, let the kids play to their strengths.
Abolish Thursdays, I don't particularly like them - I understand that is tough, so I'm going to cut you some slack.
I hope this has given you food for thought. If you want to chat, drop us an email, or friend request me on Facebook, we can chat in real time there.
All the best,
P.S. - Don't trust Ed Balls, he's a wrong-un and no mistake. Try that nice Mr. Field in your party. He seems like a good chap.
I'm not holding my breath on a response. But then I understand he's a wedding to sort out, so he might be a bit busy.