A Short(ish) List of Things that are Ruining UK Politics Right Now:
- Nationalism. Yes. Nationalism. Bubbling away since the late 2000s, Nationalism came to a head some point between the only murder of a sitting MP for over 25 years and a vote of such profound idiocy that even the bravest future Political Science PhD students will likely give it a wide berth. Ever since, it has been used to stifle debate and divide the populace. It is a worrying trend that needs to die off. Nationalists: your country is not better than the others, simply because you were born in it.
- The Conservatives. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t intend to tar the entire party with the same brush. There are some Conservatives that I would ‘go blue’ for (Ken Clarke and Anna Soubry, I’m looking at you). But others — like Mr. Reese-Mogg, or David Davis, or that terrible ‘N****r-in-the-Woodpile’ bigotted shit-spout — seem to be doing their best to demonstrate that all you need to do to succeed as a policymaker in the UK is a enthusiastic attitude towards incompetence and intense hatred for the poor. Or immigrants. Or the disabled. Or anyone who likes the NHS. Or people who work in Higher Education. Or anywhere in the Public Sector for that matter.
- Our Jez. Listen, I understand why you might think Old Man Jezzers is the best thing to have happened to politics ever because whatever reason. Popping up at Glasto, or looking like your grandad, whatever. But the man has a list of problems so deeply intense that he is contributing to the general net-noxiousness of the current climate in the UK with every single headshot he signs whilst squirrelled away in his office. Let us push all well worn problems out of the way (little things, like Unilateral Disarmament, utter economic illiteracy and a very questionable choice of ‘friends’) and turn our attention to my current bugbear to provide an example of the kind of thing I mean: the ‘democratisation’ of the Labour Party. On paper it sounds great, who doesn’t want a democratic party? But we must look at four things. A) The more ‘democratic’ the Labour Party is, the less work Our Jez actually has to do. I can understand why he might like this as it frees up plenty of time for jam making and gig-crashing, but personally, I quite like my politicans to earn their money and I quite like my leaders to lead. B) The Labour Party, much to its own delight, has 400'000+ members. Can you imagine how difficult it will be to spin out a single consistant line of policy out of that many people? In a party with considerable unity issues as is, this is just asking for trouble. C) The Labour Party has to have appeal beyond that which it has with its membership. This is a membership that sits considerably to the left of the electorate. If the membership does manage to bypass factionalism and disagreement and lay out a coherent party line, there is a very good chance that the electorate will sneer at it anyway. Not that Our Jez cares, seeing as he is in it for the glory, not to win power. D) Finally, let us not forget, it was Eddy Miliband’s ‘democratisation’ initiatives that got Labour into this mess in the first place.
- Brexit. Let’s not go into this. I don’t really need to explain how it is poisoning UK poltical culture. You all know. It is intrinsically terrible and not only that, it is also giving a platform and a cause to the kind of terrible people that only really belong on Enoch Powell’s Christmas card list.
- The Complete Disregard of 48% of the Electorate. Right, I am no campaign mastermind, but it doesn’t seem very wise to me to ignore half of the electorate. Not in the sense of remaining in the EU, but in the sense that there are precious few people representing the values that the 48% who voted Remain hold dear (Yes, I know there are some Leavers who hold the same values). The big names in both parties have retreated from Internationalism, from Cosmopolitanism and from basic sympathy towards Social Justice and Liberalism. Only a few people seem to be ready to stand by these values. Each time Tony Blair intervenes, or George Osbourne tweets a political cartoon, we see that these ideals are not dead, just not represented in the mainstream any longer (Sadly, Blair and Osbourne are somewhat on the fringes of politics these days. Although Blair’s increasingly common interventions are hopefully a signal that this may change). I have a feeling that if someone did represent these views, they may well find themselves in a very strong position.
- Thinking there are Simple Answers to Complex Questions. This one is a doozy. In many ways it is the genesis of all of the other problems I have spoken about. We have, as a country, turned our back on the unavoidable reality that life is complex. We do not live in a world where things are clear-cut, simple or straight-forward so it makes absolutely no sense to think that the answers to the problems we face should be simple. Let us use our ailing public services as an example. The simple (read: wrong) answer to solve their problems, that gets batted around by contemptibles like Nigel Farage, is to cut immigration. Less people using them, better they will be. Apparently. But, this answer misses out the fact that immigrants pay for public services — they are an important income stream for the Government (whether through Taxation, exorbitant naturalisation fees, job creation or whatever else). Cutting immigration would certainly cut the amount of people using public services, but it would also cut the amount of money the Government has available to spend on them. The ‘gain’ on the demand side would be offset by a loss on the supply side of things. This is of course ignoring the fact that important parts of our public services are heavily reliant on migrant labour (which is itself a complex problem that involves, amongst other things: UK Early Years Education, access to Higher Education in the UK, Infrastructure, Housing and Social Mobility). Clearly, taking simple stances towards complex problems is unhelpful and the sooner that we stop doing it, the better things will be.
- The Total Refusal to Engage with the Actual Problems the Country Faces. Being wrapped up in anti-immigrant stupor, or obsessed with renationalising railways does nothing to deal with the problems the UK is currently facing. Ageing populations will not benefit from these ‘solutions’. Neither will those who lose their jobs because of Automation. We need to stop dealing with all this superfluous stuff and deal with the real problems that the country is facing, because if we don’t, we will be kicking ourselves in the future. Even more than we are kicking ourselves now.