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A bit of this and a bit of that… A few considerations on last weekend political madness

Yesterday was bank holiday in the UK, not in Italy.
I spent 5 hours cleaning my oven and I feel like I could write a bit of a how-to guide now. It would start with a warning: “Do not forget to buy at least a dozen metallic sponges”.
I did forget and the result has been a prolonged scrubbing action based on disposable towels and paper roll.
I also have a suggestion on the product to use for cleaning. Since most chemical products are really expensive and are clearly not very environmentally friendly, I found vinegar to be an extremely good alternative, together with heat (hot water).
Needless to say, by the end of the day my hands were burning and my lower back was aching as if I did 5 hours of weight lifting.
Let it be clear, I am not complaining. Someone had to do the job. It cannot be done during weekdays (when I have to go to my real job).
Before saying anything to me, I would like to invite you to do the same. Spend 5 hours with your head in a place that smells like vinegar and burned oil and is covered in carcinogenic overcooked black crunchy blobs.

But let’s focus on the minor event of the weekend: Political elections!
There have been several political elections all over Europe, including Italy and the UK.

I will focus first on italian outcomes. As I posted on facebook, I find it really hilarious how everyone claimed they had won just few months ago, and all of a sudden (with pretty much the same results as last time) everyone is claiming they lost.
PD – as far as I know – got the majority of votes pretty much everywhere, M5S turned out to be the second political power.
Many people that voted for the latter used the hashtag #vinciamonoi (something like “we will win”) and are now changing it in #vinciamopoi (we will win later). Apart from the funny jokes on the slogans, what really puzzles me is that the amount of activists belonging to the 5 stars movement were all over the place. Their links, pictures, memes filled every social network.
I read today a very simple analysis that captures a snapshot of what happened in Bari (where I come from). It refers to the fact that people expressed more preferences for M5S in european elections compared with their local poll. This proves, to a certain extent, that people are ready to make a revolution but rarely to start it from their own neighbourhood. I speculate that the old and deep-rooted practice to give their vote to the local politician who promises something (money, work, others..) in return is not going to change anytime soon.
I don’t want to get involved in the political discussion because I don’t think there is one anymore (if it ever did exist). I think in this scenario it is more interesting to focus on the trends that moved the preference of the electorate.
M5S main figure, Beppe Grillo, was a comedian by profession. His excessive, exaggerated oratory was catchy during his rise. People disappointed with either Berlusconi or anti-Berlusconi parties were looking for someone to give voice to their discomfort. Grillo was the right man but forgot that this kind of customers are often driven by emotions more than rational thinking. It has been nice for him and M5S to collect approval among the animal right activists asking to completely stop animal-based research studies. It has also been easy to fill public squares and ride the wave of popular discontent with young masses of unemployed. But when it came to the real deal, when for the third time a government not elected from people was emerging, Grillo’s decision has been to spit angry words in the face of possibilities.
I am not criticizing, I am analysing. I appreciate this purist behaviour, but at the same time I think that the video of Grillo’s shouting his monologue at Matteo Renzi’s face was a bit of a turning point. A lot of M5S enthusiasts almost automatically shared the video as a showdown, a test of strength. – See? Our leader is not accepting compromises – which is praiseworthy.
But at the time I could see some cracks, I could see some of the smart people that supported him thinking twice about what the movement’s self-proclaimed leader was standing for. It looked like an enraged child during a tantrum. There was simply no way to talk to him constructively.
Here we are, M5S let down everyone. Their energy, their purity, their abnegation played only a part. The other side of the coin was closed-mindedness, total reliance on the tyrant’s words, acceptance of the dogmas of the movement.
Ultimately, I believe that many italians changed their minds during these months. I believe that these electors became ready to trust again a politician by profession and his circles of prejudiced, rather than giving their vote to someone that was playing the dictator role.

On this side of the Channel, I can’t go deeper than what I learnt in these year and a half from my personal experience.
I am reading/hearing a lot of people complain against the fact that UKIP got 27-point-something % of the votes.
Their propaganda was all over the place. I’ve seen advertising billboards being put up, being defaced, removed and being put up again. Our post-box was overflowing with their brochures. The tv coverage that Farage had was massive. But again, this is democracy as we know it.
I come from a place where Berlusconi has been elected more than a couple of times. Everyone knows media are probably the most powerful weapon. Too many people with poor education are easily mislead by data and statistics presented in one or another fashion.
This is democracy, power to the people. This is also a direct result of previous governments lowering the educational level in a country. Sadly there is not much that can be done after.
Just to make it clear, I don’t consider education a mere scholastic task. Education means also to be curious, to be skeptical, to be passionate. Education means not to trust people that need to send you tons of high quality printed paper to make sure you vote for them.
At first, my gut reaction has been to blame it on democracy, too limited in its limitlessness. But then rationally I thought this is a failure of politics as a whole. Both italians and british people have voted for weird parties, but the reasons why they did so is because they did not see a valid alternative in the rest of the political scene.

As a generic suggestion on who to vote in the next elections, I would say ask to the candidates if they have ever cleaned an oven by themselves. This should make sure the person you are dealing with knows the meaning of hands-on work.

Funny update:
Italian consulate office in Manchester has been a good resource for me in at least a couple of times.
It is one of those services that needs to be improved but does what it should do.
I’ve been there few weeks ago and they informed me they are going to close soon.
I asked if I could do anything, like signing a petition or send a letter to someone.
I did both. Here is the petition link.

I sent a letter to three addresses that the employee gave me.

This is the answer I received from one of the three.

How politician answer petitions

If you don’t understand italian this is the translation:

Dear all,
this letter to express the interest of italian community in Sheffield (students, researchers, workers and professors) to maintain a very useful service for the entire geographic area of North England.
Do not make people remember you as the ones that discontinued italian presence abroad.

Guglielmo Picchi sarcastic answer:
Next time keep voting PD NCD and SC and PI that closed it. Regards
Send from iPad

From your answer I can guess that “we” (whe who??) should have voted you.

How do you know who I voted for?
How can you ensure that by voting you the office would have remained open?

Your answer is the proof that you have got it all wrong with your arrogance.

“Not send from iPad”

the politician answered:
It is not arrogance. It is acknowledgement. The most voted parties in Manchester are PD and SC. These have then closed the consulate office. I assume that the population that voted them agrees with this decision. I opposed and raised parliament motions against its closure, that PD and SC refused to discuss. I did not ask for your vote, but until it has been my responsibility the office has been open.
I don’t know who you vote for and I don’t want to know, too often though the elector votes without realising the consequences of his vote… Manchester’s case is the textbook case.

I am always available for everyone, both for who votes for me and who does not, because I take care of the interest of the community that elected me. I defended Manchester in parliament until PD SC and MAIE voted for the closure. Then I worked to guarantee the presence of itinerant officials.

Send from iPad

Non è arroganza. Ma una presa d’atto. A Manchester i partiti più votati sono stati PD e SC. Questi poi chiudono lo sportello consolare. Ne deduco che la popolazione che li ha votati sia d’accordo con questa decisione. Io mi sono opposto e ho fatto mozioni parlamentari contro chiusura che PD e SC si sono rifiutati di discutere. Non le ho chiesto il voto, ma finché è stata mia responsabilità di governo lo sportello c’è stato.
Non so lei chi voti è non lo voglio sapere, troppo spesso però l’elettore vota senza rendersi conto di quali sono le conseguenze dello stesso…il caso di Manchester è di scuola.

Io sono sempre disponibile per chiunque, sia che mi voti che non, perchè curo gli interessi della comunità che mi ha eletto. Ho difeso Manchester nelle aule parlamentari fino a che PD SC e MAIE hanno votato la chiusura. Poi mi sono adoperato per garantire la presenza dei funzionari itineranti.

Inviato da iPad