The man behind the mic: Politics is no laughing matter

Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire breakfast show host - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire breakfast show host - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
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Some things are more important than others, depending on your point of view.

Whilst soap watchers worry how Ken will survive without Deidre’s a la carte cooking, Posh fans lie awake in the middle of the night wondering if they will ever see their team win again.

For avid “readers” of the Sun, it’s how to find page 3 without the usual big clues and over at the Town Hall they are wrestling with the biggest problem of all - whether to order rice or noodles for their new business partners.

I worry about many things – the alarming and growing trend of singing in children’s movies at the moment (Into the Woods-aaaaaargh), working out how to avoid infuriating road works, that appear to be on the majority of Peterborough’s major arteries at the moment and rather more importantly, the future of this country.

We are just over three months away from a general election and in the last three over a third of people have decided that none of the above could entice them into the polling station.

That’s around 15 million people who were eligible to vote but didn’t, people who felt so disengaged from the whole process that they didn’t bother to try and make their voice heard.

So what has been done in the last five years to entice those disillusioned voters back into the polling booth? Nothing, that’s what. Diddley squat.

In Peterborough things will change a little, as from 2016 we will get three more councillors to help keep the wheels on the city’s wagon - still what’s another £20,000 when you have a £25 million pound black hole in your finances?

Our parliamentary system is 750 years old this year and has changed little in that time.

Politicians in safe seats make some of our votes irrelevant and even when your man or woman gets elected they can do little in Westminster to effect change, unless they are connected to one of the big parties and prepared to compromise their values.

For instance if I was to borrow a white suit and unseat MP Stewart Jackson in Peterborough, I would have about as much influence in Parliament as he does.

Last time around the Lib Dems won 20 per cent of the national vote yet gained less than ten per cent of the seats and that cannot be right. Why should some votes be worth more than others?

I am not sure a change in our voting system, on its own, would help reconnect with all those that feel that they are on the outside of something that they cannot influence.

Maybe we should look too at lowering the voting age, voting online or perhaps we need a complete root and branch reform of the whole political process, to ensure everyone’s vote counts.

Perhaps we can learn something from the comedian, Al Murray, who has announced that he is standing as his alter ego, The Pub Landlord, in South Thanet against Nigel Farage.

Many have dismissed this as a simple publicity stunt, but they miss the point. Now whole sections of society, that were not the slightest bit interested in politics, have suddenly taken a keen interest.

Of course I am not suggesting that we treat elections as a joke, they are far too important, but maybe there is something in this that could help change the status quo.

However, it may be difficult to find a comedian to stand in every constituency (insert your own gags here....).

- BBC Radio Cambridgeshire presenter writes for the Peterborough Telegraph