A chance meeting showed Ben the way to make a real political difference

2020 flatsBen had offered to help a Green Party friend to deliver leaflets and, arriving at a block of flats, listened to her speaking into the intercoms to gain entrance to these buildings, secured against unauthorised entrants. Many were not at home, but the elderly readily – and rather unwisely – pressed the button to give her access.

The Green Party canvasser explained to him that many people living there and on the council estate were not registered to vote, some through apathy, some though incorrectly filling in their form and some because of the fear of being tracked down by creditors, social services or the police. Later his websearch found in an Electoral Commission report: that the April 2011 parliamentary registers revealed 6 million – 17.7% of the eligible electorate – were not registered at this time.

Ben realised that the very people who were most in need had no voice

As Russell Brand said: “Apathy is a rational reaction to a system that no longer represents, hears or addresses the vast majority of people. A system that is apathetic, in fact, to the needs of the people it was designed to serve”.

2020 megaphoneBen and his friends set out stalls in front of the flats and on the many sprawling council estates in the city.

Attracting attention by judicious use of megaphones, those less articulate than Ben borrowed or adapted Brand’s words with a significant difference – they URGED the unregistered to act and vote to change their lives.

They heartily agreed with a passage Brand wrote as editor of a recent issue of the New Statesman:  

“I have never voted. Like most people I am utterly disenchanted by politics. Like most people I regard politicians as frauds and liars and the current political system as nothing more than a bureaucratic means for furthering the augmentation and advantages of economic elites. As Billy Connolly said: “Don’t vote, it only encourages them”. . .

They also agreed with him that the three mainstream parties were viewed with indifference and weariness because of the deceit that has been going on for generations as an exploited, underserved underclass being continually ignored and, as Brand said, “where welfare is slashed while Cameron and Osborne go to court to continue the right of bankers receiving bonuses”.

But only after Ben met young Alex McKay, a few years after the 2015 election swept away the three main parties, did he and the new electors add to their social and economic goals – and agree with Brand that “The only systems we can afford to employ are those that rationally serve the planet and all humanity . . . a movement for the people, by the people, in the service of the land”.