Tuesday, May 10, 2011

UK Politics, The Home of the Bland

Now the sham Alternative Vote system has been consigned to the bin how are British politicians going to reconnect with the British public? Indeed, how are people like me, someone who has become disconnected after more than 30 years as a political activist, going to be reconnected to politics? Those are the multimillion dollar questions.

There are two strands to this issue. What must the politicians do and what must the public do? I don't pretend to have all the answers, just my opinions, that's what blogging is about, and if you are so thin skinned as to find somebody who disagrees or disapproves of your position 'hateful' then please stop reading now and go and do something more suited to your vulnerability, such as knitting or playing crown green bowls. You see that makes you bland, and that is the crux of the problem with politicians today, they are bland and can't take robust opposition without squealing and crying foul. Just look at Cable and Huhne over the AV sham.

Where are the big ideas on the big issues? Where is the difference in policies betwen the main parties on such as the NHS? The answer is that the drive to the 'centre ground' has rendered civilised debate on issues such as healthcare redundant. Whatever anybody suggests regarding improving the NHS political opponents will scream about privatisation through the back door and how the NHS is the bedrock of our very existence, which is arrant nonsense. But the drive to the bland centre ground  has killed debate. What has happened to Lansley's NHS reforms? Some criticism and they are withdrawn for further 'consultation'.

The NHS is the prime example in another way of where we have gone wrong. Increasingly the public are distrustful of politicians and government. So why leave something as crucial as you and your family's healthcare in the hands of the politicians? Would you prefer one state owned shop to buy your groceries from? One state owned car company to buy your car from? One state owned brewery selling you your pint in the state owned pubs? I thought not. People complain that the government, through taxes, steals their money and wastes it. They become bitter at how local and national government waste their hard earned cash. But dare to say that there is millions wasted in the NHS too by the government and you are accused of wanting to privatise healthcare so that the poor will die young because they can't afford healthcare. The NHS is the UK's sacred cow. Political censorship crushes debate.

I don't intend to argue here for privatisation of the NHS, I am merely making a point about the stifling of discussion. The same principle applies to discussion of immigration, where those who believe in controlling immigration are accused of racism. The same principle applies with those who disapprove of Islam, they are branded Islamophobes. Those who don't believe that women should referee mens' football games, they are sexist. You disagree with Britain's membership of the EU and you are a Europhobe or worse a xenophobe. The level of political debate in this country has been decimated by political correctness. Remove the shackles of political correctness and we can start to breath in the fresh air of freedom again. But the politicians are trying so hard not to disagree with anybody that they have bored the electorate into a stupor.

Then there is the electorate. They complain about being disconnected from the politicians but you have to help yourelf sometimes, you can't always be spoon fed. They complain that they only get a leaflet at election time, often true. But it is volunteers who deliver leaflets by and large and people aren't volunteering any more. If those who whinge actually looked at the parties' policies, found one they supported then contacted them to leaflet just their own street then the difference would be huge. I don't expect people to spend every minute of their time climbing the political ladder, but that time spent whinging used practically, could make a huge impact. Instead, as in many things they sit back and expect everybody else to do something. Then they are shocked when they see the calibre of the average politico.

But too often the politcal parties take the few activists they have left for granted. The activists in the Labour Party voted for David Miliband but got Ed instead. I'd have been pretty angry as a Labour activist if my vote had been usurped under the Alternative Vote sytem in that way, so that the unions got their man rather than the activists. Then, a few years back Labour activist Walter Wolfgang was manhandled out of the Labour conference, under anti-terror legislation, for heckling a speaker. Not the way to treat your activists I'd have thought.

But what really angers me is the when I hear people boasting of voting for one party all their lives, or even worse having been a member of one party all their lives. I always wonder in that case, who hasn't developed, matured and responded to changing times, them or their parties?

So what's the answer? I don't know, but I do blame the public and the politicos in pretty equal measure for the bland nonentities currently strutting like peacocks across the political stage. Maybe the public gets what the public deserves.


Stuart said...

But the politicians are trying so hard not to disagree with anybody that they have bored the electorate into a stupor.


I agree with all of this post and have nothing add.

Gregg said...

Thanks for that Stuart. It comes down to honesty I think. Politicians should say exactly what they believe, not what they think we want to hear.

I've seen so many people go into politics for idealistic reasons, only to sell their beliefs to get a few rungs further up the ladder.

Anonymous said...

Why the warning in the second paragraph Greg? I've read your blog for a long time and can't remember you being hateful anywhere. A little angry sometimes, but that's a good thing IMHO, especially for a blogger.

Gregg said...

Thanks Anon.

A few days ago I blogged about the dwindling gang of hypocrites who call themselves the Lib Dems, and one of their number mistook criticism for hate. He became tiresome in his constant carping and repetitive comments so I've stopped publishing them. When he was even doing it in the early hours of this morning it started to feel a little like obsession at best, stalking at worst.

It's another unpleasant little tactic to shut people up when you've lost the argument, nobody likes being accused of hatred any more than they do of racism, sexism or xenophobia etc.