Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Politicians - you're all the bloody same!

Its not a great week to be out knocking on doors as an aspiring small-time politician. People just don't want to know. MPs of all parties have done fantastic damage to not only to politics but also to the social fabric.

The scandals of the week have given documentary, indeed granular, proof of the grasping, maximising nature of many of our politicians. And to all the curmudgeons who say `They're only in it for themselves', well the proof is there now for all to see.

On the doorstep, all you can do is say you agree and tell them what a nightmare it is at local level where we don't get paid etc. A lot of people tell me they are not going to vote, as a protest. Others, even committed voters, just don't know what to do next. This has, flummoxed them.

And this is perhaps the most worrying aspect to all this. The cynics were always there, a small minority. Most people in this country recognise the need for politics, they might not engage that much but their tacit consent is key to our system working. If it is withdrawn, we're all in trouble.

All of this opens door not only to mass disengagement but also the political fringe. I suspect the BNP will benefit in many areas because of this.

What also interests me is the way nearly all MPs - the better people as well - all pretty much got what they could. Obviously this is so much the norm in Westminster that people soon lose any inhibition once elected. I wondered to myself what my claim would have looked like were I an MP for, say, Bury St Edmunds. Would I have a second home? Might I have used all the available means to furnish it without dipping into my own pocket. Could I have resisted the temptation to realise capital gains when I finally sold it?

I would like to be able to say No, No and No to all of these questions. But I am not sure it would always be quite so straightforward. While the moralist within me would want to resist, the human in me would ask futher questions: If all my peers claim for these things, wny shouldn't I? Is it within the rules, after all, to claim things which are incurred in setting oneself up as an MP who has to, effectively, live in two places? And, at the end of the day, I may not be an MP forever and my career prospects have already ben pretty shredded by getting into politics all those years ago.....

I think all of this is, in the wider context, pretty weak. But I can see how many MPs, otherwise pretty OK people, will have got to where they are now.

Anyway, my campaign is going well I think. I have a great team ranging in age from 22 to 82. What I enjoy is the sense that we're in it together and everyone is there because they want to be. It reminds me in many ways of the early Speakining Up. And, yes, I have having a lot of fun.


Anonymous said...

I agree with your sentiments about the requirements for a structure and the very basic fact that we need it; otherwise all hell would break loose and moral fabric would be lost quickly - we need to be controlled as a society and have our boundaries set and protected, not because of moral and decent folk but because of those that are not.

I strongly hold the above view, however the stewardship of those rules and regulations has to be close to beyond question for many people in society to accept the leverage it holds. In this the politicians fail again and again. I used to enjoy watching politics and enjoying the debates.... now sadly that enjoyment has faded to derision and criticism of a government that (whether red or blue) has more interest in its own PR. Most of these people are detached and ineffective, this then cascades down to the public sector where waste and innefective management is the accepted norm. Its a rather depressing picture that isnt helped by a society that carries and funds a large cohort of dead wood (those that wont work and live for decades without contributing one penny to the pot, and taking more out of it than those that do put in). My departed father (a staunch socialist) told me with the passing of time comes an inevitable sway to the right, i now know what he meant.

Martin Finn said...

It's a long held opinion on mine that we get the politicians we deserve.

If we are prepared to vote for anyone so long as they are the right party. If the masters of our country are paid less than senior sales person. If we fail to rein in (or even scrutinise) their grasping excesses - why be surprised by them?

What we need is greater involvement in who they are, what are they doing for us and how should they be rewarded.

Sadly I fear that this may not be the immediate reaction. You may be right about this forthcoming election. The electorate may react and vote for reactionaries (or at least something different) and sadly that might breath oxygen into causes and beliefs that do little to deserve them.

Rob Fountain said...

The interesting element of this story for me is actually the revelation that politicians are not all the same. In many ways it seems they reflect some of the division apparent in wider society. So it is we're seeing there are privileged, spoilt, unboundaried egotists whose skill is in milking a system that is already weighted in their favour. But there are also people motivated by a belief in community, proud to represent others, putting themselves through challenging (albeit commonplace) commutes. The optimism I allow myself to feel about all this is that whilst the greedy get the press coverage, they also get shown to be the shallow, materialistic and plain incompetent fools many of us suspected they were. At the same time, there is that glimmer of a counter story, the MP who commutes 90mins each way because that is cheaper and means a night spent next to their spouse; the representative from a far off county who chooses to rent a high-rise crash pad for the necessary overnights in London because simply he doesn't need or expect anymore; the odd MP who claims nothing extra because a salary, what, 4 times the national average is plenty. So yes, let's take the opportunity to slay the selfish and inept, but let's also celebrate the ordinary, the decent, those motivated by duty and social responsibility... then let's treat our MPs the same way.

Anonymous said...

In the main i agree with your comments Rob; if the system is at fault then it must be amended, as it stands its too easy and tempting for MP's to fall into using it advantageously, and Craig you are correct in your assertyion that the vast majority have actually done nothing illegal. Its amazing to think gordon allowed such a system for his own ilk whilst closing every available loophole for business and tax payers (much the same as his one man campaign to improve maternity rights coincidentally around the same time he had children....), and increasing frustration amongst those voters vulnerable to movement to the right. My cynicism never wanes unfortunately its my biggest weakness and a barrier in many respects.
Rob the comment that you made about 'milking the system heavily weighted in their favour' was poignant to me as i view that as being similar to the cohort of deadwood at the other end of the spectrum. Hence my point that there is a large group inbetween (and thankfully its the majority) that conform quite easily and admirably. Pepertuality and synchronicity all combining to produce the ever so imperfect storm!

Mark Griffiths 'ideally speaking...' said...

Anonymous, you are making some very good points and giving us an excellent insight into yourself - yet you don't reveal your name! This is completely incongruous. Perhaps Craig knows who you are. But we other commentators do not. This is a polite way of saying that internet etiquette forbids me from communicating with people who hide behind anonymity. It just isn't on. Your views are intriguing and interesting. So please come clean.

Anonymous said...

I knew that was coming! I havent been hiding just never got around to actually signing in as a user, i have left a few comments over the last few months. I am Rob Harris, and yes I am certain Craig will have guessed!

I will sign up so my views arent shielded by anonymity - now thats interesting, lets see if my views become watered down and less forthright (if in fact they are...) now that i have outed myself, (in cyberspace that is).

Enjoyed this one a great deal.

Rob Fountain said...

Dare I suggest that internet etiquette doesn't strictly 'forbid' folk from remaining anonymous. We all know it's not the right way to conduct yourself, but it isn't actually against any rules...

Rob 'Arris said...

All taken in good spirits - i have no problem being known. I have no idea how to set up an identity but will give it a go... and a pic?! Thats way beyond my comprehension nevermind my neanderthal-like IT abilities! Best wishes

Craig Dearden-Phillips said...

Well, the outing debate has created record numbers of comments which I am sure will have the guys at Google Analytics jumping up and down.

Thanks all of you for reading my blog, I find it very flattering.