Don’t worry, I’m keeping my voting intention private. Tomorrow the United Kingdom votes representatives who create a new House of Commons in the Palace of Westminster, City of Westminster within the City of London. I’ve heard that Politics is ‘show business for ugly people’ and dislike the unflattery, but acting? Every 4-5 years they lose their job, cease being Members of Parliament and downgrade to “candidates” jostling for your vote and a constituency seat. During this time they visit your house, invade the news, visit our factories, are plastered on billboards, buses and now infect social media. An Election is Oscar season for Politicians with 650 baubles handed out after the votes are counted from 10:52pm tomorrow evening.
These MP’s carry heavy responsibility from our shoulders to make decisions and laws on how the country is governed. So you think it would cause a great stirring among the population? I have always enjoyed elections since being a nosey teenager. The best test of an opinion is thorough argument, examined from all sides, questioned and rationalised to the ground. This is what I recall used to happen repeatedly through elections in my youth. Not in this decline of political media.
Beyond the media froth and excitement of early morning results, the public is becalmed. The Polls have shown each UK party flatline like an ex-parrott and the media is befuddled why. They offer many reasons:
- Voters made their voting decision six months ago
- The Polls might be “wrong” (as in 1992)
- Policies are not engaging the electorate
What is never explored is responsible media exposure of the Political class. As an occasional news/political junkie I look to the longer form interviews to shed light. Study Paxman, Boulton, Neil, Marr, Murnaghan (notice all men!), Question Time, TV Leaders debates etc and they often fail to bring heat nevemind light. Why? As a youngster you would regularly see a Politician in a head to head with Brian Walden or Robin Day lasting 40-50 minutes. Today Paxman gets 25m to do the same. Impossibly short. It is beyond the 25m mark that the sugar rush and ‘lines’ fade and the real person comes into focus. It is from this point on you begin to get a feel for the person and their character. By now fly-by-nights wither and fail, the capable survive, political Darwinism on screen.
So the media ties itself in knots, spouting more froth why things are the way they are and NEVER questions itself, its processes, its objectives or how it conducts itself. Perhaps the greatest turn-off for those watching Political debates with me is talking over one another. Not just the Politicians, but the interviewers cutting-in prematurely across someone else talking. Often deteriorating into a shouting match. Tick-tock, deliver your lines and get out quick is the Adviser’s mantra.
This Election has also shown a distinct skewing by the Parties towards presidential focus of one or two personalities (leader plus would be chancellor). Where are former Ministers and Shadow Ministers? The next leaders? For the past six or seven years Question Time has been on a cycle of lower rank wannabes spouting the approved lines without the capacity or intelligence to engage real people’s questions. Oh and the Chair looses control of the Panel easily and often. The Yorkshire audience in the final leaders TV debate was the most demanding interrogator of any leader throughout this election. An election twice as long as it needed to be. Twice the number of shallow encounters. How on earth does America ‘work’ with 18m Presidential elections…
What little that has become clear is which leader has confidence and convincing in what they are saying. Nicola Sturgeon, Nigel Farage and Ruth Davidson are conviction Politicians. Its almost tactile between the fingers. I like a leader to have this “honesty”..hang on this is Politics….”authenticity” is a better word. “Authentic” is not how I would describe David Cameron, Ed Miliband or Nick Clegg. Media trained to anonymity, over thinking, over talking and hell yeah over acting, they just fade to grey. Inside this not-listening media show business.
Never do anything in anger, but this needs impetus. After the Iraq wars we await its election-delayed report from the Chilcot enquiry. After the death of a British biological warfare expert we had the Hutton enquiry. Recently after MP expenses scandal and the prosecutable tabloid phone hacking, bribery and corruption scandal produced the Levison enquiry. Yet one scandal with political and establishment figures at its centre simmers without forthright political will to root-out, expose, prosecute wrong-doers and begin the healing of the victims of the ‘VIP’ child abuse scandal in Westminster. Radio Four’s World at One is investigating this scandal through this week and is not an easy listen. This scandal offends me, that such people live freely without trial or have died without their truth being exposed incinerates any trust I have of Westminster establishments to do what is right and just. Despicable. Where is the Political capital, will power, air cover, determination, authenticity to tackle this? Apparently you won’t find it in the Palaces of Westminster. I used to trust Politicians.
Footnote. Thank you to the people of Galasheils who gave me such a welcome with extraordinarily personalised signs as I wandered across the Lammermuir Hills. How kind.