The Problem With Our Politics Is The Problem With Our Society: An Obsession With Appearing Good But Not Being Good │ Bradley Goodwin
If I were to give the motto of the 21st century it would be this: make a statement. We are told to stand out, be different. We promote those who are daring, who say the controversial, people who do the controversial. If it offends, you’ll more than likely trend on Twitter and get a feature on Good Morning Britain.
The statement doesn’t have to have any quality though. It doesn’t have to make you think. That’s the most dangerous part of all. If offence is the highest means of recognition, then the standards are purely emotional, and those using logic need not apply.
Unfortunately, our politicians are not exempt from it. In fact, I would argue they are among the most responsible.
I blame social media. In this age that seems a default allegation, but I still maintain it to be true. Every day, in an instant, our politicians can update us with the latest noble cause they have so bravely chosen to take up. Among many causes taken up with frightening obsession, climate mania seems to be the latest.
At first, we were asked, encouraged to be good for the sake of the planet. Now, you will have no choice, or the law will be against you. In London, you will have very little choice in one of the grandest of grandstanding gestures, a no cars day in which we have been forcefully entered by Mayor Sadiq Khan.
Not a Londoner and gutted your missing out on the grandstanding? Fear not, the government has kept you in mind. The government have announced that the UK will be legally obliged to emit zero carbon emissions by the year 2050.
Considering the state of just about every other field of UK policy right now, from crime to Brexit, it’s seems apt to compare our politicians to Emperor Nero, who, as the tale goes, played the fiddle while Rome burned.
The point is that our politics has become so wrong because everybody acts but nobody thinks. The result: a system dominated by two defunct ideologies, that both look good but at their heart can never be good.
On the one hand we have the ‘Compassionate Conservatism’, ‘One Nation Conservatism’ of the past nine years, although with its’ similarities to New Labour you could add another 13 years to its dominance in the governance of our politics. Its combination of economic and social liberalism has become entrenched in our society, as assumptive dogmas of our political system and those who wish to take part in it.
The other ideology that makes the above dogmas almost assumptive is that of socialism.; a socialism as represented by the current Labour Party and the Green Party. Until 2017, socialism had been written off as a No-Man’s-Land electorally speaking for any major party daring to adopt it. To Jeremy Corbyn’s credit, the 2017 UK General Election put his ideology back on the market, defying all expectation. How much of that electoral result was down to his strength and not the Conservative Party’s weakness, we cannot know.
However, there is something inherent in Corbyn’s socialism that appeals to appearing good without actually being good. It entrenches the social liberalism of the New Labour/Compassionate Conservatism that has become dogma. It’s approach of extreme ‘tax and spend’ economics also allows for the perfect narrative in which to look good. To appear the answer for people’s woes and disillusion. It’s even got the heroic Robin Hood quality to it. The villainous rich with too much have betrayed the poor by hoarding their masses of wealth, and taking money off you by making you pay for their mistakes in the economic crash of 2008.
Tax the rich, and justice can be served to those who have sinned against the poor.
With socialism, however, the lack of beauty comes in the practice. The history of socialism is often exposed but the modern day is enough to prove the point. The socialist ‘paradise’ of Venezuela has become a nightmare. High inflation. Brutal Starvation. One of South America’s wealthiest countries suffering the blight of becoming one of its poorest thanks to socialism. The good appearance wears off for anyone subjected to socialism beyond the theory of the textbook.
As I much as I dread to say it, the dominance of the defunct is partly of our doing. When we vote at the ballot box for politicians that communicate by grandstanding, that seek to appeal to us by the politics of emotion over logic, we give them the approval to carry on as they are. Any dissatisfaction on the doorstep is irrelevant, if they have nagged you to the ballot box, the pattern can carry on as usual.
However, there is a glimmer of hope in the cycle of uselessness. The vote is your liberty to give or withhold as you choose. That liberty is still yours to deploy. The election results since the failure to leave the EU on the 29th March show that if you change your vote, the politicians can change their offer almost as fast.
With dismal polling defying the traditional pattern of the dominance of our two major parties, a lesson will need to be learned by both if they want to survive. Brexit might be the headline issue but so many others need to be addressed.
The liberal assumptions of our day will not be enough. Grandstanding will no longer protect the politicians from their ideological flaws being exposed. Looking good without being good has been a cover up of our system’s flaws, an incentive to keep the liberal status quo. We have exercised the power to make things different. If the system is to survive, our Parliamentarians are going to need to think, and with haste.