Haven’t had a rant about evil British politicians for ages, but today I’m annoyed.
A while ago Russell Brandt (of all people) sprang into the headlines for urging people not to vote. He was an unlikely political champion but this was rather the point – people were increasingly disillusioned with the political elite after generations of scandals, excess, self-interest and general cynicism.
I found the whole thing depressing. I have always voted (even though it was usually futile). I wanted politics to matter to people. I even did a degree in Politics. Brandt’s call to no arms seemed, along with the popularity of UKIP and BREXIT, to represent the widespread rejection of the very people who should be making things better, but who are commonly seen to be making things worse. While they line their own pockets.
Could it get any worse? Sadly yes. When I worked in the energy business, it rapidly became apparent that public policy simply wasn’t addressing any of the issues of the day. Two huge issues faced the energy policymakers over the last twenty years. How to replace the energy generation which is due for decommissioning and how to shift from coal-dominated power generation to a more sustainable mix. Neither was addressed, even though everyone in the industry knew the issues. In the meantime the political rhetoric (remember “the greenest government ever”?) simply misled us.
Now I work in healthcare and tragically the same seems to be true. The pronouncements of policy makers (“economies from efficiency savings”? What again?) bear no relation to what we hear from the professionals in the NHS. There’s either a kind of mass denial going on or a deep dishonesty. And as for the posturing around the Junior Doctors’ dispute, I’m afraid truth was the first casualty.
The issue du jour, as I write, is the Panama papers. The wealthy are avoiding tax by hiding their assets in tax havens – didn’t we already know this? In the wake of Starbucksgate and Amazongate and (insert your own tax-avoiding multinational-gate here…) the UK Government promised to lead the charge against tax havens. Now it seems they had their own trust funds in Panama all along. Dust off that old photo of the Bullingdon Club, with Cameron, Osborne and Boris looking like posh twats.
Sadly, in those policy areas I know a bit about – and some I don’t – I see those charged with making it work simply ignoring the issues and fighting their own turf battles. Should I assume that the same is true in every other policy area?
The only thing more depressing than the sheer hypocrisy of this is the fact that we’re only learning about it because of the PR tactics of their political opponents in the BREXIT campaign.
It made me think of the advertising campaign for the Camelot lottery. We see common hate figures like Katy Bigot-whatsername and Laurence Llewelin-Flounce-a-lot and we’re urged to play the lottery – so they won’t win. “Don’t let it be him”. Weird but memorable.
I want someone to do some proper politics, please don’t let it be Brandt.
But, much as I want to dismiss Russell Brandt and the others who are asking us to reject our political leaders, tragically they do have a point. This is how Jeremy Corbyn won the support of millions of disillusioned voters who want Labour to be the answer.
I wish. But sadly I don’t think it’s likely to be him, either.