I cannot watch BBC’s Question Time anymore. I just can’t do it. I will spend the requisite time on Twitter following it that way, but I can’t bring myself to actually watch the programme itself.
I am a firm believer in politics. It affects our daily lives in ways which we sometimes don’t even realise. It is one of the most important facets of any functioning society and we need to treat it with the respect it deserves.
You don’t believe me? Well then, let me ask you this; do any of the following things mean anything in your life?
- Armed Forces
- The environment
- Food prices
- Food supply
- The arts
- Support services for the elderly or disabled
- Benefits (including Tax Credits, Pension Credit or Child Benefit)
- Public transport
- Car tax
- The state of the roads
- Rubbish collections (I mean bins, not collections of pointless stuff)
- The media
- Police & justice systems
- Social justice
- The poor and homeless
- Public health
- National security
- Businesses of any size
That’s not an exhaustive list and I’ve probably left some important things off of it. However, if the answer is yes to any of these things (and I suspect it will have been to several of them) then politics is important to you as well.
So, we’ve established that politics is important. I hope. However, despite this, I still can’t bring myself to watch the most popular political discussion programme on British television at the moment.
Simple as that.
We have handed all of those things I listed above, all of the things many of us hold very dear, to a bunch of unqualified, self interested careerists who couldn’t, in all honesty, give a hoot what you or I actually think or want. A load of people who, on shows like QT, sit and spout pre-prepared party lines which barely ever actually address the issues which are important to people.
It doesn’t matter which party you listen to (mainly because you couldn’t fit a Higgs Boson between any of them) what you hear is always the same formula. Today’s political discourse is not the language of informed debate and discussion. It is not the language of co-operation and compromise. It is not the language of the interests of the people. It is a stream of puerile, childish soundbites, division and demonisation, fear, self interest and making sure that the political kingmakers of the media and big business are not upset.
Whenever one party actually says something which makes sense, it appears to be the job of their opponents to attack what has been said. Whenever there is disagreement and debate within parties it is covered up or pounced upon by political opponents as weakness and division. Whenever you hear politicians debate, especially in the House of Commons, it sounds like a schoolyard brawl with so much taunting and catcalling, both from those speaking and those listening, that it is, frankly, a national embarrassment.
And who is to blame for this?
We have allowed people who see politics, the actual running of our country and our communities, as a career to drive the agenda and to make sure that the majority in this country are marginalised. We have allowed health, education, the economy, defence, law and order, welfare and many other areas to be run by lawyers, journalists and professional politicians rather than doctors, nurses, teachers, soldiers, economists, police officers and others who actually have a day to day working knowledge of how these fields operate.
We need to take it back from the politicians. We need to involve ourselves in the political process, be it by joining various pressure groups or political parties. Start to actually have a say in policy, in who our candidates and representatives are, in what issues are brought to the public attention.
I don’t care if you are left or right wing or what party speaks to you the most, this is something we need to do. And don’t expect to find a party or organisation out there with whom you are in complete agreement over every issue, because it just won’t happen. Find the one which most closely matches your own views and then encourage discussion on those issues which are important to you, whether you believe in the party line or not.
That interview which Russell Brand did on Newsnight has generated a lot of discussion. Personally, I thought that it was as well thought out and workable as putting a bread and butter pudding in charge of the country. However, he kept coming back to one word. Revolution. That people in this country are no longer engaged in the political process and that the natural result will be revolution.
Well, here you go. Here is a revolution of sorts. It is one where the people, by legitimate means, take back the process by which our country is run and start to change the language of debate and decision into the mature one which a democracy of our age should have had years ago.