The Toxic Wasteland of Modern Politics
As a naïve and young 6 year old child, I envisioned that being the Prime Minister was a high accolade given to only the smartest and well-rounded individuals. You know the type. The ones with all the power who control our future and regulate our lives through fair laws and policies. The kind of people with insight and knowledge of our history, those who would be best placed to lead us as a nation through thick and thin, with a worldliness that would let them choose the best course for us to follow. I was surprised when I asked my parents how much the Prime Minister made and shocked when I learnt that John Major was on a paltry 110K a month. If the Banks chant the mantra that we need to pay the best people the best salary, then our politics and government are surely found wanting, and with that logic, it shows.
Months before we approached crunch time in the referendum debate we had many occasions to be embarrassed for the level of child’s play and ineptitude in parliamentary debates and discussions. David Cameron for example calling Jeremy Corbyn out for not singing the national anthem is one thing and one can understand how, whether you agree with it or not, another can question if he should or needn’t sing. But dressing a fellow professional down (no pun intended, although I’m quite happy with it now I’ve noticed) just because of an ill-fitting suit is an insult straight out of the youth club and reeked of privilege and snobbery. Fast forward a few months and we’re a lot further along on the scale of insult spitting and warping history.
Political, playground point scoring has long been a part of the chamber and many see it as part of the job. One should always expect quick thinking barbed comments, but with modern shock humour on the rise and no end insight, how far will it go? If I was to imagine my 6 year old self watching one of the debates live on TV, would I be forgiven for thinking that I was actually watching a rehash of a Bykers Grove episode where they were having a go at the local rival youth centre Denton Burn? It’s embarrassing behaviour, but it seems the heat keeps rising and we’re now at boiling point.
A quick search around the world and one can see examples of this diligence to immaturity and posturing in almost every country, but nowhere on Earth is it more prevalent on such a far reaching scale right now than America, where you would inevitably be led to one A-grade, puffy cheeked buffoon. And for the firs time, it’s not Boris Johnson.
Donald Trump has insulted group after group; women, the disabled, Mexicans, Muslims; whoever he catches a glimpse of that morning when he wakes up and reads the paper is in line for a slating. A man so obviously out of his depth, yet has somehow whipped up a storm with hate speech and rhetoric so strong that it resonates with others who are equally miss-informed and don’t know who to trust. A common theme is that he is not a politician. Trump is yet to distance himself from a high profile neo-Nazi for crying out loud. A sad consequence of the American media and political landscape is that where they start, we follow. The language of politics is changing and how people argue has changed. Language of fear and extremism is prevalent now and we are trying hard to catch up with out cousins across the pond.
Trump, a man so intent on banning people based on their religion, who wants to build a wall across one of only two physical borders. A man who, potentially, is six months away from getting his hands on nuke codes and letting them rip just because someone questions his stance on his grievances with women. That’s the world you want to live in? Well good luck to you when the bomb hits. I just hope you’re in the centre of the blast radius and your death is quick. I certainly wouldn’t want to live in a world where I can’t go outside because of a hazmat suit and can’t turn on the TV without him pinching imaginary fruit flies out of thin air.
Yet, this is where we are increasingly finding ourselves, albeit in a typically British manner. Suits and singing, not hand size and wife baiting… but there’s always the next election.
Back to the Brexit, Gove and Johnson. They want us to leave and how should they convince us if they realistically have no idea what kind of a world we’d live in if we left? They have no idea, just like most of the Remain camp has no tangible idea of what could potentially happen. So what is the average person meant to do? What do you do when you’re an old lady and you can’t work Skype? Or you need a new mobile phone because you’re moving to a new country and you don’t know how it all works? Or you are going to travel to the moon and you need a contraption so heavily reliant on technology and so complex you don’t have the faintest idea of where to start? You ask the experts, that’s who! Of course you do. Why wouldn’t you? You’re not going to ask Tim-nice-but-dim down the local are you? You’re not going to ask that blond guy who cycles past every morning because he’s got a friendly smile and a helmet two sizes too big for his head, eh? Are you? Are you going to ask the cat in all those videos where it looks at the camera but simultaneously pushes a glass off the table? Are you going to ask the cat, are you? Nah, I don’t want to trust the experts. No way. Not in this lifetime. No chance. Nah. Ask the cat.
When you ask the experts, many of them, in all different fields; historians, economists, bankers, leaders of the world, scientists and you ask them what we should do and they all pin their flag to the Remain side, what can the Leave side do in riposte?
Yeah, you know how politics works these days.
Compare everyone to the Nazis! That makes sense. Call all the experts who have worked, studied and climbed their way to the top of their respected fields, Nazis. Totally. They’ve been working all these years in their fields of expertise, yet somehow when they’re called upon for their input for one of the most important votes you’re ever likely to make in your lifetime, label them all as goose-stepping, swastika clad, racists, and intent on spoiling the fun for the rest of us. Damn those experts, damn them all to hell. Politics for the average guy! Because Boris is just like your mate who you want to have a pint down the pub with, sticking it to the man, calling people fascists.
This, after a month where Farage brought out a poster comparing people without a home and in many cases a family to an invading horde, intent on setting up home in your garden and displacing you from your job overnight. A few weeks before Boris Johnson compared the EU to the time when (them again) Hitler attempted to “unite” Europe, or when Napoleon wanted to “unite” Europe. Excuse me, what? You’re comparing the time Hitler killed millions of Jews because of their religion to the time Brussels wanted to give more workers rights to staff? Yeah, because that’s the same, isn’t it? Or Napoleon when he wanted to further the French Empire across Europe and the world and reinstate slavery in the colonies? Yeah, because that’s the same as giving farmers subsidies that keep them in business and provide us with foodstuffs like rhubarb and peas at discounted prices?
Just how low will the Leave campaigners go? The impact on the average person is telling. In conversations I have with people about the Brexit and politics in general I hear the beginning of other extremisms where people are feeling free and eager to say almost anything without thinking ahead about what the words mean in the context of what they’re saying. Bloodbath, horde, rampaging, Nazis, tyranny, free Britain, take Britain back, put Britain First, swamped, European Empire. Johnson in the debate yesterday said that tomorrow might be our independence day, another pluck at our heartstrings and the patronisation that we would be unpatriotic if we didn’t vote Leave.
There is an atmosphere of misleading, misdirection, moving the focus away from informed, level-headed debate and shifting it towards a more media friendly version which is easier to sell to the masses. Sell an idea with a picture, instead of a thousand words. It’s always been a tactic of governments, but haven’t we learnt not to trust everything we see and read?
Politics is in danger of evolving from the thoughtful process of debate for the betterment of man, in to a buzzword and mud-slinging match where only the best sound bites get the vote.
Some comparisons shouldn’t be made and the language has already stirred up enough people with extremist views and I’ll be glad when rationality and sense returns to the fore. The most amazing thing about it all, is not just the language that is being used to describe situations, which has without a doubt more extreme, but that the public have accepted it as normal now and willing to push further themselves.
This referendum should never have been put forward for the general public. I’m not am expert by a long way, and that is exactly why I trust the people who guide us. We vote for an electoral representative who should handle these matters for us.
Parliament should have decided this a long time ago without so much political wrangling and bending of the truth, although the obvious criticism of this method would be the gross misplacing in context that our representatives are so willing to do. Is this how you persuade people? Lazy comparisons for shock and awe?
I’ll be happy when all of this is over and the experts can gain centre stage once more.