What has been shown with the petrol price protest, I believe, is the ‘new politics’ of the 21st century. This new politics has proved to be energetic, fast, hi-tech and above all driven by ordinary people who got fed up and decided to do something.
In the past, it was government by and large that was stronger, better organised and more in charge of communications. This new politics is grass-roots based and springs from technology; the mobile phone, the internet, the media and globalisation.
Even though these tools are a little more than 10 years old, they are invaluable to this new politics with which, as people are just beginning to learn, they can start to take back the power from the politicians.
The Liberal Democrats have continually campaigned for a more honest approach.
Take tax and spend. For improved services everyone knows the price is just a penny in every pound.
It is how you spend that counts – the value you give your consumer, the taxpayer. And in the information age, if government wants to spend, the voters can’t be deceived by stealth taxes, and will not accept them.
At the next election, people will be able to compare tax policies of each political party on the internet. So for issues like environmental taxes, it will be plain who voted against every Conservative and Labour above-inflation petrol tax rises and that if we say an environmental tax is necessary, then we will cut another tax to compensate.
In the new politics of the 21st century, politicians will need to be honest, because people have the power to keep them honest. The next general election in an information age will show us that the age of lies, sleaze and stealth taxes won’t work anymore, and that honesty isn’t the best policy – it’s the only policy.
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