Marie Antoinette may not have actually said “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche” but it is certain an unattributed quote that defines the attitudes of the 18th century French royal court.
It neatly encapsulates Louis XVI and the French aristocracy’s disastrous lack of perception as to the effects of austerity economics, regressive taxation and ever widening social divisions.
With a general election only five months away and the rise of UKIP coupled with the prospect of the SNP holding the balance of power in the next government, will “The poor can’t cook so let them eat porridge” attitude of Baroness Jenkins go down in history as a defining moment in British politics? A misquote taken out of context or an example of the inherent complacency of the political classes? You decide.
Recently, Les Parkes asked on this Letters page ‘why vote for UKIP?’ Large numbers of British citizens would ask why vote for any of the traditional parties?
Disengaged from the political process, they see no point in supporting policies devised to appease the only group of society voting in large numbers, namely the over privileged, narcissistic and negligent middle classes; hence the catastrophic decline in voter numbers.
I have exercised my right to vote since I was 18. I see it as my duty, recognition of the sacrifices of millions in the fight for democracy and a mark of respect for the hundreds of millions worldwide who do not have a voice.
At 58, I lost my job. I have higher qualifications than most Government ministers do. Now, I work 25 hours a week for the minimum wage.
I am white van man. I pay no tax and draw no benefits. The one thing I have is my right to vote and at the next election, I shall go against all my instincts and vote UKIP - unless there is a Green or Independent candidate.
Not because they have any sensible polices or stand a chance of forming the next Government - God forbid - but because the other parties have done nothing to earn my respect.
Voting for fringe parties is not simply about protest – it is a tool for instigating intellectual debate, without which nothing changes.
Reactionary, obsequious and reactive politics hold no interest for me.
Only radical reform, federalisation and the move towards a socially responsible and caring society will suffice. Fat chance but I can dream.