Dealing in Votes

Dealing in Votes

Dealing in Votes

Dealing in Votes

Excerpt

This is partly a book about voters and partly a book about politicians. But, more than either of these things, it is a book about the interactions between them: about what the people want, how they convey their wishes to politicians, and what the politicians do about them. This covers a multitude of actions and omissions. Citizens may vote for one or another party, or abstain from voting. They can become active in a party and try to change its policies. They can demonstrate in the streets. They can join a revolutionary conspiracy and try to overthrow the government by force. They can join groups which put pressure on the government to make changes. Or they can be 'free riders' who reap any benefits 'their' group produces without contributing to the costs it incurs. They may strike for more than their government's wages policy would allow them to get. They may invest their capital (if they have any) overseas instead of at home. Many of them (between thirty and forty per cent of the workforce in Britain, for instance) get their wages more or less directly from the government, because they work for it, or for local government, or for a state-owned trading enterprise, These people have an interest in bargaining direct with the government, over and above their interests as citizens. Teachers have an interest in the welfare of children; they also have an interest in the welfare of teachers. People whose job is to implement government policy have yet another set of interests. A civil servant is paid to carry out the policy of the government of the day; he also has an interest in policies which promote the welfare of civil servants.

This list of actions, choices and motives is wide-ranging but not comprehensive. It covers only a small fraction of the political activities a citizen can undertake. Every action designed to influence the policy of the government, or of a possible future government, is a political action. And there is an even larger class of actions which . . .

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