Politicians get a lot of stick, and during the social media debate on the Stoke by-election someone commented: “We’re always on the losing side. They do as they wish, not what the people wish,” clearly a mere rephrasing of “What have the Romans ever done for us?”
Over to Monty Python.
Right, Paulus*, don’t labour the point. And what have politicians ever given us in return?
Octavius: The NHS and national insurance?
Reg: Oh yeah, yeah they gave us that. Yeah. That’s true.
Pompilius: And the sanitation! Those Victorian sewers saved many a town from disease and sickness, and led the world in improved sanitation.
Stan: Oh yes, sanitation, Reg, you remember what the country used to be like.
Reg: All right, I’ll grant you that the NHS and national insurance and the sanitation are two things that the politicians have done.
Lucianus: And the motorways. Transport is much better than it was back in the day when it was A and B roads, all those traffic jams and fatal accidents. And new laws over seat belts and crash helmets to reduced fatalities.
Reg: (sharply) Well, yes, obviously, the roads, the motorways go without saying. But apart from the NHS, the sanitation, the motorways, seat belts and crash helmets …
Hilarius: Equal votes for all women, abolition of slavery, setting an example to the rest of the world. And the Open University.
Omnes: Minimum wages, improved education for all, a modern police force and don’t forget peace in Northern Ireland.
Reg: Yes, all right, fair enough.
Drusus: And the linkage of MOTs, car insurance and tax to cut down on selfish drivers leaving others with the bill. Ken Lomas** implemented a private member’s bill that introduced a reflective element on car number plates and saved thousands of lives.
Omnes: Oh yes! True!
Cornelius: Yeah. And the centralised collection of household waste and recycling. That’s something we’d really miss if the politicians didn’t exist, Reg.
Sextilius: Drugs safety! The Civil Partnership Act!
Stan: And it’s safer to walk in the streets at night now, crime has been falling despite the recession.
Quintus: Yes, they certainly know how to keep order (general nodding). Let’s face it, they’re the only ones who could in a place like this.
(More general murmurs of agreement).
Reg: Right! All right, but apart from the NHS and national insurance, the sanitation and eradication of disease, improved transport, seat belts, crash helmets equal votes for women, abolition of slavery, the Open University, the minimum wage, improved education a modern police force, peace in Northern Ireland, the linkage of MOTs, car insurance and tax, reflective number plates, the collection of household waste, drugs safety, The Civil Partnership Act, lower crime, what have politicians ever done for us?
Scaevola: Defeated Hitler and brought peace to Europe for 70 years?
Reg: (very angry) Oh… (scornfully) Peace, shut up!
* I’ve changed some names in case Python is litigious.
** True. He was a contact of mine when I was a trainee reporter. Nice chap.