It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, … in short, the period was so far like the present period. (from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens)
What would Charles Dickens think of today, the behaviour of the political and bureaucratic classes in Westminster (and Brussels) and, their effects on the good people of Rochester and Strood (and our country)? We need such a literary giant today to poignantly and cuttingly expose the deceits, incompetence, injustice, and insensitivity of our ruling establishment. And he made a difference, which helped change the Victorian Era to be, well, less Dickensian; a big thank you to former Rochester resident Mr C. Dickens, political journalist, before he was famous, social commentator and astute observer.
Unfortunately, whilst much has changed, the work is still unfinished, and good honest people are still victims, especially the most vulnerable in our society. Whitehall is still bureaucratic; the following from Little Dorritt, is all too commonly relevant:
Whatever was required to be done, the Circumlocution Office was beforehand with all the public departments in the art of perceiving — HOW NOT TO DO IT.
This book says much more about how public servants behaved when incorporated into The System, which could have been written yesterday. We are fortunate that so many people do their best despite the pressures, workloads and stupidities placed upon them by the remote upper echelons and out of touch policy makers.
The Westminster elite seem determined to both neglect important needs in (the City of) Rochester and in Strood, (such as hospital capacity) and to repeatedly impose their will, against the wishes of local people (such as imposing 5000+ houses on an area of special scientific interest). And, worse, to do it in manipulative, duplicitous ways; repeatedly these are the reasons given for people supporting Mark Reckless, who is fearlessly standing up for the community. It takes courage to leave David Cameron and Grant Shapps’ Conservative (aka Nasty) Party and endure their ferocious vilification to fight for the people. This must be part of the spirit of the people of Kent (or is it Kentish people), which has not changed since 1381 when they arose against iniquity and for liberty.
Charles Dickens reaches our sense of compassion and humanity. He helped galvanise society, as individuals, communities, and organisations to protect the vulnerable, and help overcome social exclusion, poverty, depravation and injustice. Today, would he be a hackneyed sound bite mouthing apparatchik for the political establishment defending their privileges, or an outspoken grass roots defender of the people and member of UKIP?
Nothing that we do is done in vain. I believe, with all my soul, that we shall see triumph. (A Tale of Two Cities)