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UK General Election – common sense or cultish dogma?

November 8, 2019

The British General Election campaign is only a few days old, and the standard of debate is puerile, nowhere more so than on Twitter. I’m not one for hurling insults via the social media, but there have been moments when I’ve been tempted to call out politicians of every hue as idiots. But I’ve stopped myself, on the basis that once you start you join the idiots. So I just read and reflect, aghast.

Apart from the shameless lies and baseless claims, what also concerns me is the hollowing out of the political discourse between left and right, and the exodus of so many women MPs who are fed up with the vicious abuse they receive via the social media.

I may not agree with the politics of Justine Greening, Amber Rudd, Tom Watson, Philip Hammond, Ken Clarke, Rory Stewart and the host of lesser lights who are bowing out of politics – for now or forever – but their departures diminish the diversity of opinion in parliament. Some of those who have defected to the Liberal Democrats may end up being re-elected, as might some who – like Dominic Grieve – have opted to stand as independents. But the chances are that the two major parties will be more polarised after the election, not less.

This time I will vote for the Lib Dems, not because I agree with all of their policies, but because they represent the best chance of driving a wedge between the extremes of Labour and Conservative thought.

Open-mindedness and critical thinking are not qualities that currently lead to a successful political career in the UK. In the United States, by contrast, while Donald Trump seems to have converted the Republican Party into a personality cult, the Democrats are engaged in what strikes me as a refreshing debate on critical issues such as taxation, healthcare and climate. The so-called progressives may not make it to the White House in 2020, but at least opinions that would previously have been held to be acceptable to the electorate are starting to move into the mainstream of political thought.

Our election, though, is dominated by Brexit, the ultimate example of closed thinking, despite the efforts of the contestants to shift the debate to other vital issues.

I could easily point to policies on all sides that would benefit the country, but our problem seems to be not a lack of bright ideas, but a lack of confidence in their practicality and the ability of the politicians to implement them. Competence, it seems to me, is in short supply. So consideration of policies takes second place to judgements on the ability of those we elect to deliver.

Therefore it’s hard to see the coming election as having any function other than to break the Brexit deadlock one way or another. Until that happens, no government will be able to get on and deliver a coherent programme. The immediate prospect for Britain will be compromise, fudging, nip and tuck. And sadly, those at the extremes will find that hardest to do because of the stridency of their messages.

I shall continue to watch and comment as I think fit. I shall read as widely as possible, including the asinine stuff on Twitter. But from where I sit at the moment I see no sunlit uplands beckoning after December 12th, even though I fervently hope to witness some of the worst charlatans and liars being cast into the outer darkness.

If this is to happen, more substantial numbers of 18-30-year-olds need to register to vote, and get out there on the day. If, as in 2016 and 2017, that generation fails to exercise its power to influence its future, can it legitimately blame the older generations for its troubles?

Be that as it may, I hope the nation surprises me and opts for common sense over cultish dogma.

From → Politics, UK, USA

2 Comments
  1. Andrew Robinson permalink

    Hi Steve.

    Absolutely….

    Para 5 – welcome to the second half of the 20th century, USA…. (give ’em some time for the leap to the 21st century). Some Beveridges are indigestible, it seems.

    Penultimate para… yes they can blame the old duffers – Brexit is the greatest betrayal of the young by the old for many CENTURIES, since the Children’s Crusade in 1212 (date from Wiki – it wasn’t on my mental list of “1066 and All That”).

    Writing from Catalonia, reached from our French home with no passport just a French ID card which no-one asked to see. Take back control, roflmao.

    So, good luck to the Young Brits unpicking the lock of their “Johnson-Mogg-Cash Cell” – the 21st century version of the “Anderson Shelter”.

    All the best. Andrew

  2. Andrew Robinson permalink

    Tactical voting by the young will have all the certainty of a roll of the dice… imho…..

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