While I understand the sentiment behind the “Not In My Name” statement with regard to the War in Iraq, I don’t think it’s a banner I want to use myself. I worry that it’s just another way to not think about what is really going on in Iraq. “Oh well, the war is not happening in my name, so I don’t need to take my share of the collective blame and guilt it.”
No. Our government has sent British troops into Iraq on behalf of all of Britain. That’s one of the consequences of the parliamentary democracy we live in: no matter how vocal the minority is, the majority holds the trump card. Saying that the war is “not in my name” is about as true as saying that I don’t intend to pay increased duty on beer, because I didn’t vote Labour at the last election. It’s a statement of desire, not a statement of reality.
Besides, doesn’t it make you more angry that the government is going to war in your name? Won’t it make you more cautious about the candidate you’ll vote for at the next local, regional, or general election? Doesn’t it provide you with more of a spur to take an interest in what your elected representatives are actually doing with the power you have given them?
Regardless of whether you voted for them yourself, they are answerable to you, for the entire time they are in office. An individual’s interest in, and influence over, politics and politicians shouldn’t start and end with elections. Research your MP. Write them a letter or an email. Visit a constituency clinic. Ask questions. And keep on asking them until you get an answer.
Because this is what “fire and forget” politics looks like: a government that feels it has a mandate to go ahead and do whatever the hell if feels like for four or five years, regardless of the scale of popular opposition during that time.
That’s not democracy. That’s an elected tyranny.