MPs are no more. Long live the PPC!

By Laura Trevelyan, Amnesty's Advocacy Coordinator - Outreach.

They say a week is a long time in politics but maybe today’s politicians can take comfort from the fact that 500 years after his death at Bosworth field Richard III’s reputation is on the rise. So maybe bullingdon clubs, bacon sarnies, tuition fees, expenses, unguarded moments in kitchens will all fade with the passage of time? Well you never know!

The War of the Roses may resonate more to modern audiences as inspiration for the Game of Thrones books but it does teach us something about modern electioneering. The War of the Roses saw a small group of people from similar backgrounds unite behind their chosen leader, vie for power and then form alliances in an attempt to keep that power.

Today’s ground troops might not be armed with pikes and swords but they are armed with thousands of leaflets and rosettes and as the starting gun sounds on the short campaign (anyone else feel like the election has been going for months already?) they will be deployed across the country.

From today your MP is no more and, if they are standing again, they now become a Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC) along with all other contenders for the seat. As the campaign begins in earnest all candidates will be pounding the streets, knocking on doors and generally working to garner votes. If they knock on your door why not tell them a bit about Amnesty and explain why human rights matter to you?

While they work for your vote they are also more receptive to what you care about, so this is a great opportunity to join our General Election campaign and call on your candidates to protect the Human Rights Act and Stop Torture Don’t worry if your doorbell doesn’t ring - you could find your candidates on Twitter, attend hustings or even do a little dance like the Amnesty York group have done! (Who needs Richard III's body when you can celebrate your city this way!)

Although this campaign won’t end in the carnage and slaughter of a medieval battle, it will leave the political parties bruised. Round one began last week for the Prime Minister and Ed Miliband - both equally mauled by the sharp tongue of Jeremy Paxman. And don’t forget it's likely that a few of the big names in the current government and shadow cabinet will find themselves jobless on 8 May.

I can’t help but think that the modern system of choosing a leader is at least more humane that the world of 1485, when Richard III lost his throne and his life to Henry VII. Shakespeare might have Richard crying for a horse but the next incumbent in number ten is most likely to get there by a much more modern means.

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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