With so much going on in the world it's difficult to know where to start. Watching the events in and around Iraq unfold, one can't help wondering if air strikes by western military forces are a solution or fuel to the fire. We're back to Bill Clinton's question about why they hate us so much. Is this an intractable ideology that has only one agenda and that's the subjugation of all humanity under one paradigm? And, if it's an ideology, can you really bomb it out of existence?
As the Prime Minister announces two more Tornado jets are being sent into action, there's talk of withdrawal from the European convention on human rights. Too much interference from Europe might placate those who see Europe as a threat to our sovereignty, but is it the wisest way forward or is it just an attempt to halt the progress of UKIP? We do seem to have a political system based on emotive arguments, self-interest and soundbites these days. Perhaps it has always been so, we've just not seen it. On the other hand, if it ushers in a proper bill of rights and a new constitution by which we become citizens rather than subjects, then that would be a good thing surely.
Personally, I'm not looking forward to next year's general election at all. Mainly because I would feel guilty if I didn't vote but in realty I'm rather disinclined to do so. Not voting is not a sign of apathy, at least not for me. It would be a signal of dissatisfaction with the system. But the system we have is the only one we have! Catch 22. Vote and make no difference, or don't vote and still make no difference! Maybe I've just become rather too cynical about it all. I'd like to think that people would sit down and think through what they believe and vote accordingly, seeking to find the party or manifesto that best represents those views. Instead I fear we mostly vote for what suits us best, or more likely we vote against something.
The first time I voted it was a rather special occasion. I remember going to the polling station but alas I can't remember the reason! Maybe it wasn't that special after all. I turned 18 in October 1975, the first General Election in which I could vote would have been 1979 when the ailing Labour government of the day was replaced by Margaret Thatcher's Conservative party. But my memory tells me that I voted in something before then, perhaps not long after my birthday in '75. Anyway, apart from one election when I completely forgot that I hadn't been to the polls ( how I did that I can't imagine), I've voted at every opportunity since. In all that time I think I can safely say that my vote made a difference twice, maybe three times because I got to vote on devolution in Wales the first around in the 70's. By this I mean that my vote, along with many others, changed the MP or directly affected a decision. But just because my vote generally speaking hasn't done that, does that make it a pointless exercise?
Come next year I will have to decide what to do. I'm caught between the idea of protesting by not voting and realising that by not voting my vote, albeit a "not vote", won't count for anything because we determine the winner by a majority of votes cast not by gaining a majority of the votes that could be cast. I could, by not voting, actually contribute to the election of a candidate I wouldn't want to represent me! Woe is me!
At least it's been a good week for tennis. I played my first match of the new round of league matches and managed to grind out a win in three sets that took 2.5 hours to play. The other players all look strong so it was good to make a positive start to what promises to be a challenging group of matches. At least there are no politics in tennis....