In (Blank) We Trust

People's Assembly - Occupy London - Finsbury Square - Real Democracy Now

There was an article published in response to a new report at the Guardian a few weeks ago - British Democracy in Terminal Decline - that I've been meaning to tackle for a while.
A study into the state of democracy in Britain over the last decade warns it is in "long-term terminal decline" as the power of corporations keeps growing, politicians become less representative of their constituencies and disillusioned citizens stop voting or even discussing current affairs.
The arguments I want to put forward here I think are just too convoluted and probably misinformed but at a purely methodological level I disagree entirely with the findings or at least the way the findings are worded. 

Really 'British Institutional Democracy in Terminal Decline' would be much more accurate title. The study (despite the last point in the quote from the article) is actually only a measure of engagement with the British democratic system and in no way seems to reflect real political activism or interest - things that I would speculate have exploded significantly since 9/11 in this country as in the rest of the developed world from the pacified post Cold-War years.

Without wanting to sound like a giddy teen, I think that we live in a politically vibrant and exciting time where almost everyone in the country has a political opinion. In fact, I have a much longer opinion piece and group of theories on the history and importance of this new engagement which is perhaps best reserved for another time, place and medium. The poll itself admits that single-party voters are dropping - perhaps an indication that we're becoming more informed and less biased in our voting preferences and for those that don't vote I actually find the argument 'they're all the same' to be as valid if not more valid than people who just vote 'because it's there.'

It's a real indication of a failing in democracy when the parties appear to be if not actually are 'the same' and it's not a criticism to be dismissed. It says a lot about the relationship between politics and the media which through recent cases we're all considerably more aware of. It also says a lot about the entire ideology of the system. So I think that this poll shouldn't be read as British citizens becoming less engaged with democracy but British citizens seeing, understanding and becoming analytically critical of the failings of a system that seems out of touch, slow and untrustworthy. 

Here I can reel out lists of things about individualism, the popular press, the occupy movement, mistrust, the success of terrorism, objectivity, niching and grumbling but I won't. I was going to a week ago but I've decided it would just be too much, and like I say - another time, place and medium.
I'm not, nor would I suggest an alternative. Let's remember Churchill's words: 'Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.' But I would outline again that historically we live in a time of significant geo-political and social upheaval. The black-and-white dialectic of civilisation that has dominated the relationship between people and government is becoming blurred by what I would argue is a vast increase in political literacy for the average citizen.  Perhaps it isn't a matter of trust in democracy - ideals that I think most people can get behind - but trust in other men and women to uphold democratic ideals. Perhaps my retitling might be even more extreme: Trust In Government in Terminal Decline.

But that's not really news.