When I switched on the breakfast news I was confronted by the same old sitcom – politicians talking politics. A Labour spokesperson would say how the election result was a rejection of the Coalition’s governance. Conservative and Lib Dem representatives brushed off the councillor deficit as being part of the normal “mid-term blues” suffered by governments. They were all arguing with each other rather than talking to me.
As so often is the case the media did nothing to help raise the quality of the debate. Jeremy Paxman has a lot to answer for. Rather than trying to battle politicians, interviewers should try to elicit information by asking insightful questions- and then let the audience decide. The introspective bickering that we see today just reinforces the collective disillusionment. (David’s blog for Labourlist is very good on this)
The story of Thursday’s election is peoples’ rejection of democracy being able to improve their lives. We may mock Greece and Italy for having technocratic administrations but our trajectory is not so different. We may not have the revolutionary, instant change but the public is consistently evolving away from politics. Just look at the voter turn-out figures. In the mayoral referendums voters rejected having ‘another politician’ built on top of all the pre-existing layers of bureaucracy. Unsurprisingly, the idea that the solution to our problems was another politician didn’t sell well.
Like the frog who sits comfortably in the pan of simmering water, those who live in the Westminster bubble have clasped each other in a death grip. Politics needs to go where the people are. By this I mean understand how people today consume, communicate and interact, and then build a structure to fit this. Many of us appreciate the devolution we have in our lives – i.e greater choice of products, accessing more information before making a decision, companies making life easier for us. They do not see political parties and democratic systems mirroring this. Giving power away is hard, but there is no other option. Legitimacy is draining away.