Once politics was, if not simple then at least understandable. There were parties on the left and parties on the right, and they would stay roughly at either end of the spectrum, fluctuating into the centre and out again; but you knew, and so did they, which side of the centre they belonged. Then you had the parties in the centre that had to fight off incursions into its space from one side or the other. Tribal loyalties saw to it that you would usually follow your family’s lead when placing your X on the polling card. But now conviction politicians are gone. Candidates promise anything to get votes. Elected politicians appease reactionary popular opinion; unpalatable stories are called fake news. No one wants to listen to elite groups who, they argue, consider themselves superior to everyone else.
It feels like everyone is playing by different rules; change has spread right across classes, gender and the country. Austerity is hitting some communities badly whilst others continue much as they ever have; buying necessities like foreign holidays, fast cars and super wide televisions. The government continues to cut funding for further education and the NHS but can find enough to commit to Trident and nuclear weapons. Many young people want to know what the point in cramming their heads with knowledge is when experts are no longer valued or guaranteed work once they are crammed with arcane facts.
The financial crisis caused by the banks hit everyone except the banks themselves, who are still getting richer. Terrorist fanatics are killing indiscriminately across Europe and the need to gather information means that personal liberties are being invaded.
It seems obvious to me that now is the time to have a serious discussion about how our society works and what our priorities should be to prevent the very poor getting poorer and the very rich getting, well anything they want. Should we look to the Nordic countries and raise Taxes so that our schools and hospitals work? Should we know what proportion of our taxes go to what? And should the disgustingly rich pay at a higher rate of Tax than the ‘Just about Managing’ people who feel they have been left behind and forgotten?
In other words, do we want politicians discussing things that don’t really matter? Do we want a higher moral and honest tone to the debates in the House of Commons – with no booing or braying? Or shall we forever be talking about what we can screw out of our neighbours just to leave them all alone for a while? And seriously, do any of us really think that this is a brave little country hitting way above it’s weight against larger, calculating, unscrupulous and less plucky competitors?