Friday, May 01, 2015

Sparing a thought for the poor bloody politicians

I know we shouldn't be too sympathetic towards our would-be leaders.  They're grasping, lying, slippery, power-hungry egoists out for themselves and likely to ruin us all in the process.  Aren't they?

It's not a popular thought, I own, but I do have more than a sneaking sympathy for the plight of our putative representatives, and especially their leaders.  Pounding the streets day after day, meeting inordinate numbers of punters who are all experts in everything, having to be nice to even the most moronic questioner....it's not exactly an idyllic existence.  One of my friends, soon to be elected if the runes are right, is about to depart a well paid job with some decent off-time, for a relentless, looking-glass existence which will require far more hours of his time and yield a far smaller income.  And yet he's pretty cheerful about it, because at last he's got a chance to engage in public service of the highest level.

They're all expected to take bucket-loads of abuse from we armchair commentators and electors, as we relish our chance to exercise our own power at the ballot box.  Take last night's Question Time.  Nearly all of the commentaries and social media wisdom has claimed that the real winner were the audience.  That great, gritty, hard-hitting and unimpressed audience.  Yes, they offered some good questions occasionally, although none of them showed startling insight or illumination.  And none of them, of course, offered any positive alternatives.  They were there to challenge the leaders, not come up with ideas for the future.  They had the easy bit.  Have a go at the leaders whose job is to take it, and don't take any responsibility for coming up with workable policies.

And not all of the questions were that good.  The guy who asked Nick Clegg - again - about tuition fees.  Seriously?  After five years of hearing nothing but this issue being debated that's still a good question?  But Nick Clegg had to take it and answer politely, as if he'd been gifted some unique and brilliant political insight.  A pity, really, that he couldn't just pull a withering look of contempt, ask the guy where he'd been for the past five years, and then deliver a robust lecture on how our political system actually works.  If the British public's over-riding concern had been the abolition of tuition fees they should have voted Liberal, right?  But they didn't.  So we keep a version - a better one as it turned out - of tuition fees.

That's just one example.  The audience played to type, asked the questions that have been hovering round the politosphere for ages, and sat back to watch their victims smile inanely, tell them that was a great question, and try to come up with something that wouldn't alienate everyone.  They weren't a great audience, they were a standard one, and they were more involved in politics - taking a couple of hours to sit in a television studio - than the average voter.

Commentators are even worse.  Andrew Marr, the doyen of the political commentariat, who gets to pontificate on politics from his well paid perch at the BBC every week, recently wrote in the Spectator, that "We have the most extraordinary array of digital, paper and broadcasting media at our fingertips — excellent political columnists, shrewd and experienced number-crunchers, vivid bloggers and dedicated fact-checkers." Quite.  Let's praise the brilliant commentators and analysts and number-crunchers.  All people who have opted out of the significantly more difficult task of actually representing and governing, to simply talk about it.  If they're all so brilliant and worthy of our respect, why don't they bother standing?  Too much like hard work perhaps?  Not as well paid maybe?  Not nearly as much fun as carping...sorry, commentating brilliantly from the sidelines. 

Marr then when on to bemoan the political parties for not giving enough detail and providing us with a "tooth-grindingly awful election".

He should know that politicians give evasive answers because every time they give the truth they can expect huge amounts of ordure from the very commentariat that Marr represents.  We want to give our politicians a hard time, and we want them to square all of our political circles, and like Mr. Marr we don't want to be bothered with the tooth-grindingly difficult task of coming up with answers ourselves.

So spare a thought for our wannabe politicos.  They are at least the ones who have put their heads above the parapet and offered themselves for service - and a good deal of pain - in the interests of their country.  We'll hate what they do, criticise their attempts to offer us insights, encourage their evasiveness and then blame them for dishonesty.  It's called democracy, and we get the politicians we deserve.  Especially when we abjure the tough job of standing ourselves.



2 comments:

Bikram Singh Majithia said...

nice article.

sukhbir singh badal.. said...

all politicians are not bad. some are really thought about public... so we can not say all politican are power-hungry egoists...