A new political party is in town. One so popular you meet its members every time you step outdoors or, depending on your mood, look in the mirror. It is the Apathy and Disgust Party – and its membership is vast.

If there has been one consequence of the extended farce of Brexit inflicted on us by the Conservative Party to solve its own bitter internal divisions, it has been what I call the Big Switch Off.

You see it everywhere. Politics – and even our own democratic system – seem so inadequate for solving Brexit and the deep-rooted problems in Britain that people simply zone out. And after our own unelected Prime Minister’s decision to suspend Parliament at the height of a national crisis, you can hardly blame them. Nor does the government’s lack of basic integrity help when they boast of being prepared to defy the rule of law to get a no-deal Brexit.

Politics seems so remote. So done to us. Easier to tend your own garden and retreat into cynicism. After all, justifications are everywhere.

Take the slow destruction of our NHS through stealth privatisation, incompetence and deliberate underfunding. Or the strangling of whole communities through austerity. High streets are dying all over our region and skilled, secure, well-paid jobs are being replaced by low pay and zero hour contracts. Little wonder a sense of isolation and helplessness creeps in.

For anyone unlucky enough to be disabled or unable to compete in an increasingly hostile labour market, there is the real risk of destitution for the first time since the 1930s. Don’t get sick, don’t develop mental health problems, the safety nets so carefully built up in the post-war era have been removed or sold off for private profit.

Take something as basic as a roof over your head. Homelessness is booming and our housing market is rigged against ordinary people in favour of the wealthy. And that goes for so many aspects of national life. Taxes are optional for the very richest in Britain. Justice is inaccessible except to those who can afford costly lawyers.

Then you add the debacle of Brexit to the stew. What a pathetic spectacle to witness heaps of privileged, wealthy, remote politicians bellowing and jeering at each other in Parliamentary debates. This is the democracy we rely on to keep us safe and prosperous. Enough of this useless shower, you might be forgiven for thinking.

Who can blame people for being weary and sick of politics? Who can blame them for joining the Big Switch Off?

Long ago the Greek philosopher Heraclitus pointed out the only constant in life is change. Perhaps it is naïve to complain about the tsunami of change inflicted upon ordinary people since the bankers’ greed-crash of 2008. Personally, I don’t think so. Much of the churn that has occurred has been completely unnecessary, particularly when it comes to sacrificing our precious public services to the false god of austerity.

What we should all fear now is ourselves. If, as a nation, we give in to quite understandable feelings of contempt and apathy for the political circus presented to us by news outlets, the result will be a free pass for those same cynical politicians who created the current mess.

We all know an election is coming. I would urge anyone who cares about their family, community and the future of the environment to consider the following. First, ensure you and everyone in your family is registered to vote, including students away from home. Secondly, engage with the policies on offer from the main political parties in as much detail as possible. Last but not least, please do not underestimate the extent of the damage done to our country by ten years of austerity.

Healing the damage will take more than throw away, simplistic, hyped-up spending “commitments” of the type populist politicians like Boris Johnson specialise in. It will require vision and solid plans over the medium and long term. Understandable though it may be, we must not turn away in disgust and weariness from dysfunctional politicians at this crucial hour. Now more than ever, they must be held to rigorous scrutiny and account.