Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

I wanna be elected

This week and in coming weeks brave men and women will be marching round the highways and byways of Norn Iron with electoral registration forms for registration. We salute them all!

However, our salutations will not extend to the people who toss them aside or the people who only register so that credit reference agencies can see that they exist.

 

The electoral roll serves a useful purpose in a democracy – and not just for credit reference agencies. To have a place on the electoral roll establishes that you are able to select the public representatives who will argue and debate legislation in councils, Stormont, Westminster and the European Parliament.

And a lot of people blithely sign the form and then don’t bother with that element of democracy that involves voting.

Then, come the election results, they complain about the people elected when they didn’t vote for them...

 

This coming week sees the return of MLAs to the big house on the hill, a.k.a. Parliament Buildings. There, a lengthy session of business awaits them. Yet people still call radio shows moaning about politicians.

 

At a time when the House of Commons is recalled to discuss a military strike on Syria and the final touches are being put to the new council boundaries, electoral commission canvassers will be taking on a three phase campaign to get people signed up to vote.

 

With the power struggle over some pieces of fabric/flags in Belfast there are reports that thousands of people from the loyalist community have already joined the register to vote.

 

Although there are times when we struggle to remember, Northern Ireland is a democracy. Call radio shows, write letters to the editor, rage on your Facebook status, post to Twitter endlessly, but voting counts. Better still, rather than wasting your time shouting about things, why not take the plunge and stand for election yourself.

Electric eye in space is watching...

Reports this week from the Venice Film Festival (we do like going to the pictures!) have George Clooney talking about his satellite surveillance of South Sudan in the battle against human rights violations and violence.

Hold that thought a minute – George Clooney uses a satellite. Yes, any private individual can rent satellite time to look down from space.

The mind boggles! We already have more CCTV cameras per head of population than anywhere, the police service are purchasing unmanned drones to watch our every step and goodness knows what else.

The only conclusion we can come to is that we are all criminals. Yes, you, me and the dog are criminals.

This week we heard about plans to tackle shoplifters in Belfast, some of whom have more than 100 convictions.

We shall resist a Daily Mail-style outburst about throwing them all in clink for endless years; but most offenders are already known to police...

Why then do we need such intrusive monitoring? It can only be that beneath the mask of civilisation we are all evil wee mites, bigoted potential rioters and generally nasty types.

But with so much surveillance we must ask: who watches the watchers?

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk