Tuesday, April 13, 2010
The Politics of Empty Rhetoric
So, the UK election fracas has begun in earnest. Being 3000 miles away gives me a certain dispassionate objectivity these days where once I would have been spitting tacks and feeling that if the Tories get in it would mean the end of life as we know it, Captain. Like all manner of experiences, the mind becomes indifferent when the object of desire loses its immediacy. But I manage to hang on in, some days, and evaluate the rhetoric as I see them doing their TV-glossed thing.
Cameron said today that this would be an end to Big Government. Instead a Big Country would be in charge. The Uk’s social infra-structure would see far more guidance and leadership from ordinary people who have a right to determine what is being done for them. A bit socialist, prithee! Meanwhile he has managed to cajole one hundred and fifty Big Business leaders to sign up saying they support the Tories in not raising national insurance contributions. I suppose I could get a hundred and fifty figures from any walk of life to sign up to a policy which increases their profit margins.
At the heart of this bandying of policies is a curious contradiction. Cameron says that the incumbent Government have no credibility in the face of the combined experience of business leaders. They know nothing. However, the Tories do not suggest that businesses would be run better if Big Business Executives shared their power with a Big Country, or even those lower down the organisation. Here, they are in absolute agreement that the Executive must rule the rest.
Both Labour and Tory rhetoric promotes the increased engagement of the everyday person in all manner of professional services. More public accountability, they both bleat. I’m not so sure. What on earth is the point of training professionals to do medicine, education, social work and whatever else and then hamstring them with a committee of naives, laypersons, novices, obsessives, fanatics….
The law can take care of those who break it in any profession and it is there that a jury of ordinary men and women can have their final say. It is the professions that must take the ultimate responsibility for their development and moral purchase on social life, based upon fairness, respect and equal opportunity for all. Give the public the lever of power to lead these domains and we’d have hanging, flogging, a curriculum of learned facts without the nous to apply them, classified drugs everywhere (except alcohol which kills more than the rest put together) and a dictatorship of the middle classes (because the lack of education of the poor at present prevents them having any say in their Big Country). It’s time we stopped electing MPs (who have shown their propensity for venal, invidious and self-aggrandising behaviours) to further the outdated ideologies of their Parties and, instead, elect them for their independence of thought and their expressed concerns for particular issues. Then Parliament might be fun, intellectually absorbing and in itself an education of the Big Country, instead of a ragbag of ill-educated, emotional trumpeting from all sides.