J.F.K. and ‘The Peterborough Effect.’

by Pseud O'Nym

Many years ago now, in what today seems like a hopelessly optimistic endeavour, someone had to ambitious idea of promoting Peterborough as a thrusting and dynamic place to relocate one’s business. Under the tagline of ‘The Peterborough Effect’, the advert starred Roy Kinnear as a Roman Centurion, to emphasize the town’s long history, by the somewhat rash decision to have all the dialogue in Latin!

Had everyone involved been paid in Roman money, then fine. But I’m thinking they weren’t. Probably they trouser large amounts of cash that could be spent on buying the kinds of stylish clothes and equally stylish garden furniture featured in the advert.

But I digress. For earlier this morning we saw another ‘Peterborough Effect’ only this time it wasn’t so much an advert on what the town could do, it was more on what the town couldn’t do. Bother to vote. I mean a 48% turnout?

And it’s not as if voting here is in any way an onerous activity. It’s made as easy as it possibly could be for people. I mean they might have go to a church hall or school, be greeted by a bored election official who’ll hand them a ballot paper and direct them to a flimsy booth to cast their vote. Voters abroad who’ve long been denied democratic free and fair multi-party elections that don’t involve a long journey to vote, and a threat of violence if they do, can only sympathise.

I find it staggeringly pathetic of people not to vote. It was only comparatively recently that women got the vote, although this gave rise to the widespread belief that women would vote the way men in their life wanted them too. Some men still think they can do that. Because who one votes for is nowhere near as important as taking an active role in the democratic process, because if one doesn’t vote, not only is your vote not cast, but worse, the that the vote of the people who do bother is worth more, because it’s counted and yours is not.

48% turnout indicates a worrying lack of political engagement at precisely the time when political engagement is needed more than ever. People cannot claim that the political process is in crisis, when they themselves are fuelling it! I’m reminded of John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address as President and his challenge to every American to “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,”