Watch out! The oiks are coming …
January 2, 2013 1 Comment
I keep waiting for that telephone call. You know, the one that goes roughly like this: “Hi Julian, we have a safe Parliamentary seat lined up for you”.
It won’t happen. It won’t happen because at 53 I am too old. I won’t happen because I did not go to university, have never worked in politics (or for a union, or an NGO, or a charity), and am working class. Or perhaps this is what the fatalistic side of me wants to believe.
Hang on a minute, I did stand for Parliament. Twice. It could have happened. This son of a window cleaner could have warmed up the green benches. Ok, I was twice selected in seats that were politely described as long-shots for Labour, and was comprehensively trounced on both occasions. Still, I was on the starting blocks.
It is easy to look at those selected in good seats and rationalise why they are there and not me. They are young and beautiful, they have brown-nosed themselves and are obsequious in the face of the Labour hierarchy, they belong to a metropolitan political elite.
The reality is that they put themselves up for these positions and triumphed. The mechanism may be unclear, the sacrifices too great for those with ordinary lives, and the skills required somewhat obscure, but this a failure of procedure and process rather than of those who now await the chance to serve.
However, the failure of process and procedure has as much to do with perceptions and expectations as anything. Politics has become less a matter of thesis, antithesis and synthesis, and more about packaging. The wrapping has overcome the contents, and argument subsumed by presentational skills. Politics is not unpopular, and neither are politicians. Voters are confused because gone are the hard distinctions that separated those who represented Labour and Capital. And this is because in many ways Labour and Capital are awkward bedfellows nowadays. The centre-ground is the area that keeps the most people happy, and the arguments are about managing Capitalism, not replacing it.
If politicians are like axe-murderers, as Gloria De Piero imagines, then I think it is because this mass-media celebrity-celebrating culture we inhabit has forgotten that real people underpin the computer-simulated pseudo-reality drip-fed via media new and old. Politicians should get out more – the voters don’t bite.