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It ain’t fair that it ain’t fair….

February 23, 2011

 

I Ride I Vote!

Wick, Scotland – From a song by Bob Dylan or the UK bikers lament?

It is the biker’s lament. It is the slip from the stepping-stones of optimism into the raging torrent of unfairness and perceived prejudice that surrounds motorcycling.

But wait, as we struggle in the dark waters a boat approaches is it the dark lord, the ferryman, come to carry us to a biking Hades? No tis the fair lady Freyja’s outstretched hand that rescues us from chill water, it is her boat that delivers us to the shore of democracy. A whispered missive and she departs. Her message – things will not change unless we make them change…..

Opportunity for positive change knocks. Despite action in the House of Lords by a coalition of Labour and Conservative peers, dead set on denying the UK a chance of electoral reform, the Electoral Reform Bill has been cleared for Royal Assent meaning that on May 5 a referendum on electoral reform will take place in the UK.

Be in no doubt that the UK’s two major political parties, Conservative and Labour, abhor the idea of a proportional voting system that would better reflect the political opinions of the country. They believe that adversarial politics is the way forward. A simple continuation of the five-year cycle where an exchange of party means a complete overhaul of the way the nation’s institutions are run. Changes for changes sake, systems that are political footballs, if it ain’t broke do fix it. Political dogma a substitute for meaningful organic change and progress in line with people’s aspirations and expectations.

We need to move away from a voting system that in the 2010 general election meant that with only 65 per cent of voters supporting the two major parties they, the parties, were delivered 87 per cent of the seats in the House of Commons.

The UK voting system is biased towards the largest parties. They have built a realm of parliamentary safe seats which hardly ever change hands and where little election campaigning takes place. Possible a 21st century version of 18th century election practices! Not surprising then that a large section of the British public feel disenfranchised and simple do not bother to vote.

Will a proportional voting system change this?  The chosen system , the Alternative Vote (AV), is certainly not the best. It does however give voters the chance to rank candidates in order of preference thus doing away with the “wasted votes” argument. It should also mean that prospective parliamentary candidates will have to work harder to be elected and produce a better mix of national and local election argument. It will almost certainly act to boost to the UK democratic process and if nothing else encourage more people, particularly the young and minority groups, to participate in the electoral process.

And biking. Well if more parties are represented in the UK Parliament, we certainly have more opportunity to get our voice heard. It all very nice that Members of Parliament turn up and listen to our views; they do that to everyone then go away and file it. Look at AV as the first step to getting a real voice, add in Parliamentary petitions, the ability to comment on Parliamentary Bill making and we may be on the way to getting that real voice. An opportunity for the UK’s 1.3 million motorcyclists to actively participant in politics, should they choose to do so. A bit better than one or three “riders rights” or “industry” people hanging out in the Lobby trying to convince themselves and us that they are making a difference.

Its rumour, unattributable comment and opinion time!

There is a rumour circulating down at London’s Westminster City Hall. According to our informant Westminster City Council (WCC) are seeking a deal with the No To Bike Parking Tax (NTPBT) Campaign. It seems that some WCC Councillors are getting very windy over the costs that the very successful and clever NTBPT campaign is landing WCC with. Spending WCC council taxpayers cash in a time of recession on a load of bikers etc etc not very good when it comes to election time. Apparently, the WCC olive branch is motorcycle and scooter access to all bus lanes in the Borough.
 
However, another contact at different London Borough points out that WCC is conducting a parking review. Could it be they are doing the prep to draw a line under the current M/C parking regime and start again with a clean sheet of paper? Lot of chatting going on between Boroughs at the moment – a London wide parking charge regime perhaps.

Is it “beware of Greeks bearing gifts” time?

Ride with pride.

© Back Roads Rider 2011

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