It really grinds my gears…

I’m in a ranting mood once again today. This time it’s about an email I received this morning.

I receive lots of emails from different groups who put pressure on government to make changes. Most of them I agree with, that’s why I get emails. I’m not very active in changing my government, which is to my detriment, but I support the cause and like reading about people who do.

So this particular group, they really like sending me emails urging me to write to my MP to tell them to do the right thing. This email was no different, but it has wound me up no end.

Like I said, I support these guys. Whilst most of Joe Public hasn’t a clue what bills are passing through government, these groups are keeping the big blokes in power in check, and telling us when something shouldn’t be happening. Most recently, the controversial badger cull. My inbox went crazy for a solid month.

Now before I tell you about this email, I’m going to use some of my recently acquired legal knowledge to explain to you how a law is passed. If you already know, or you are really not interested, skip to the next paragraph. A law starts life out as a bill. This bill can come from any number of places, so that isn’t important. The important bit is that it has to pass through the House of Commons (where all our elected members of parliament (MPs) sit) and usually it has to go through the House of Lords too (where no one is elected). It has to be approved by both houses. It goes through a lengthy chain, where the title of the bill is announced, then it’s read through… a specialist committee hashes out the details, it’s read again in the Commons or Lords and then it’s edited a bit if there are any objections, then it’s read for a third and final time and put to a vote. If it passes the vote, it proceeds to the other house and goes through the exact same process. Every bill is heavily scrutinised before it goes anywhere. If both houses vote yes, it goes to royal assent. This basically means it becomes law. That’s the passing of legislation in a nutshell. There are other ways, and there are always exceptions, but most of the time, that is how law is made here in the UK.

The email I received tells me that the gagging law is being put to the vote today in the House of Commons and many MPs are on the fence on which way to vote on it. Would they vote for, or against? Well, this group have found out who my MP is and have given me his Twitter details. They are urging me to tweet him. They explain that my MP has already taken a good stance and opposes it, but he needs to turn up and put his vote in. So I should tweet him and tell him this.

The email tells me countless times that I should tweet my MP (and they give me his details 3 times), they tell me that the gagging law is “a threat” and that they have “expert legal advice” telling them so.

Why has this annoyed me so? Because they’re so busy telling me to oppose it, showing and telling me how, but they’ve not once actually explained to me what it is I’m supposed to be opposing. They want me to tweet my MP? I’ll tweet him about what I know, what I have an opinion on. How can I form an opinion on an email that tells me nothing? I opposed the badger cull. I signed petitions, I emailed my MP then. Because I knew what it was. I knew what I was opposing. I was well-informed. I know nothing except the title of this bill and where it is in the chain of becoming legislation. I have no idea what it is about.

I’m all for keeping government in check. I voted in the last election, and I’ll vote in the next. That vote gives me the right to have a say how my government is run. I signed up for these emails, because I don’t have time to go finding out about the things that matter to me… this is a convenient way for me to keep up to date. But I resent being used as a tool to oppose or support things that I don’t understand for lack of information.

I feel this quote sums up how I feel about this perfectly:

“[W]ithout progress there will be stagnation and decay. There again, progress for progress’s sake must be discouraged.”

I will stand up for the progress that I understand, that I support. I will oppose the progress that I deem unnecessary. I will not shout about nothing. I want my voice to matter, not be noise.

Rant over.

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