British Attitudes to Politics: Perspective on the Snap Election
With the election coming up, I've taken an active interest in politics again. It is hard to be passionate about anything when you're not directly involved. In light of this I've taken to trying to articulate what exactly the British attitude is toward politics; which is something that is riddled with insecurities, demonization and crude rhetoric that neither advances nor betters any of us.
Over the course of my lifetime I have lived through exactly five prime-ministers, two party swaps and one city wide riot. I was promised endless worlds of possibility, a road paved with A+'s and 1st's and a stable job and a bright future all at the very nubs of my fingertips. I could trust in a stronger Britain if we just got those untrustworthy New Labour 'scum' out. If only we could just live in a purely Tory state without the Lib Democrats interfering! Despite having little say in the policies the coalition proport we should definitely have a Tory Government!
My history teacher used to precide over many a political debate in the class room. We were a class of three in my sixth form, two right-wing leaning kids and a firm lefty; Champagne socialist! we'd shout at him! Idiots! at us. Our pointless arguments would be filled with outbursts, screaming and accusations not unreminiscent of the 'debates' we see in the House of Commons. We'd boo, hiss, shout and the only real sign of maturing we'd ever really show was upgrading to sarcasm.
During this time we had just seen the Labour government of the time sell away our gold reserves, 'destroy' education standards by trying to undermine elitist institutions and enforce a light form of affirmative action. We had seen nationalist clubs being shut down, firm proof we were losing our 'identity' and more pandering to the poor. "Why do they get my parent's hard earned money?! Why do they get to take and all we do is give? My family doesn't even earn that much!"
It always did make me wonder, why would anyone vote for people that simply take away from 'hard working' families. After all we were all the same right? Surely if we were all equal then we came from equal circumstances, educational opportunities and cultural insights. I mean surely if we were all cut from the same cloth as everyone says then those that lacked were simply not trying hard enough.
I'm just going to take a moment so those of you whom have heard this before can take in the familiar hatred. The utter contempt and demonisation that once dominated my thoughts still thrives today. In ballot boxes, pubs, street corners, parks, community center's and even nursing homes. That same thought process that once demonised the less well off now demonises the opposition in the same way.
Britain has always had a splintered political culture that breeds contempt at best and violence at worst. British, or more specifically English, political culture has always preferred the comfort of being an island, isolated and hostile to all those that oppose it. For having a history of promoting civility we are a barbaric bunch whom live in a state of perpetual denial. We have done horrible things in the name of Queen and Country and yet we are stuck facing our past horrors because we refuse to move onto a different future. We are apathetic to our political situation and no one knows what to do.
Voting apathy has hardly shifted from 2010
Those days of ignorant preaching and parroting are far gone and all that is left is a subtle horror. A sudden realisation of the reality of both sides of English politics; we are and always have been a country of ideological dogmatism. This is nothing new to politics, after all it is not a science and rarely embraces the tenants of the wise or literate. Tackling issues blindly with as much fervor as a child wishing to prove himself. It's awfully easy to stand above and mock it from afar but when the consequences are outside the door you can barely afford to rent then the harsh reality sets in very quickly.
Neither side, Tory nor Labour has any solid solutions because neither are interested in solutions. Well established political parties rarely are. When Labour was founded in post-war Britain it was in response to a need and not a desire. There was dire need for change, a change of who was represented in parliament, how society valued it's citizens (all of them) and established the idea that there should be room for the working man to dominate the aristocrat. Not fairness as many people would spout; fairness was never part of the equation.
We are an imperialistic nation founded on imperialistic ideals and thus are part of an imperialistic culture. We do not see fairness as equal treatment but equal opportunity. We believe in vengeance over justice, strength over weakness and damn the whiner, the hipster, the punk, the foreigner; they all represent what our culture has and always will seek to eradicate. Divergence from a time when our dominance ruled.
Is it any surprise then that we see the rise of demagogue's? Is it a surprise that we scoff at political parties that promote the execution of the democratic process? Yet at the same time support, as a nation, the withdrawal from Europe and the rise of xenophobia? How quickly we divide ourselves into camps that soon begin to resemble eachother. "He's a loud-mouthed bigot!", "She's a lefty cow" and so on and so on. All these changes have gained traction out a need from a sect of society that is often cited as neglected.
How quickly both sides begin to diverge from the crux of democracy and seep into modes of hostility, ignorance and violence that we can only blame ourselves. Going back to that history teacher and more pertinently the point, when we were arguing in that class he slammed his hand on the table one day screaming "enough! I'm going to show you that you're all idiots!". We waited and puzzled over his unusually powerful command of the situation. "What do you want?" "A Tory Government! this Labour one has ruined everything!"; "Don't listen to him, he's just an idiot who thinks that Maggy Thatcher can save us all from all those horrible poor people. Get a Grip". Our teacher repeated himself but added "... without saying what the other can't do for you; what do you three want?".
We all sat there in silence for 30 seconds, I remember it being the longest thirty seconds of my life at the time. "For a fair political system, for everyone to be treated fairly". We all agreed and looked at eachother for a further 5 minutes in silence. "So why do you argue? Why not work together and become better as a result?" We were all close friends from that point on. We never argued and adopted something that resembled social liberalism, whilst being sympathetic to more right wing values. We began to accept the logic behind each other's reasoning and in effect allowed eachother to accept being wrong.
When we look at the bafflement of the left and the vengeful tout of the right we see a very similar picture. An argument that can never end because neither side wants to be wrong. They want to win the argument despite both wanting the same thing. Yes they have differing ideas about how to go about tackling these problems but neither are seeking solutions. They just want their flag up when things go well.
When we step back and watch the PMQs and question time we don't ever hear rational discourse between two parties with a greater national interest at heart. It took a greater threat than austerity to force that to happen. Neither side have provided sustainable solutions for our country. Neither have left the country in a better state than when they started. Where there is economic growth overall the poverty gap grows. Where the poverty gap shrinks extreme spending and unnecessary bureaucracy with little value in healthy economic growth begins again.
I find it quite appropriate that a history teacher would be the one to point out, in such a subtle way, the folly of ill-advised political discourse (if you could call it that) can cause. Is it not strange that the British attitude to democracy is not whom is the most rational but the loudest; might makes right. Our imperialism and the denial of its passing now pervades our way of thinking. Debating. Even discussion is out of the question anymore.
Their only vested interest is in the furtherance of being right for the sake of it and in the wake of this snap election I only ask of my reader(s) one thing. What do you want?
© 2017 jbav