I’m dreading a general election.
It’s plain to see that the country is in an almighty mess but I can’t help thinking this is far more endemic of Parliament being in a much worse mess. I don’t see how we can be sorted out by an institution in a far more dire need of being sorted itself.
I’m not talking about this expenses row. I think that’s bollocks. I think by focussing jealously on the perks of a draconian system, we blind ourselves to both the good and far worse of what politicians have been up to outside the sensationalist scrutiny of the media. And, yes, I do blame the media for a lot of what has gone wrong in politics. The mid-nineties saw politicians having to focus as much (if not more) on PR as their actual work and that has created some real monsters.
I think I rather like Gordon Brown. That is not to say I support or endorse him but here is a man who fought for the ultimate (self) poisoned chalice and seems to be stubbornly drinking from it. He has a complete inability with PR. He can’t smile convincingly. And I like that a lot. You don’t hear a lot about what Brown is actually DOING, presumably because it is too dull and perfunctory for the media to be able to spin. They instead concentrate on his cabinet and policy revisions. The ‘U-Turn’ thing intrigues me. A policy is announced, it is proven highly unpopular, it is reversed and then there is an outcry for being wishy-washy. In an age where no political party has a discernible political position, a responsive leader is perhaps the best we might hope for.
His predecessor will hopefully be remembered as this nation’s worst ever leader. My hatred for Tony Blair is eclipsed only by my self-hatred for having fallen for his crap back in ’96 and electing him in. It is so obvious in hindsight that he would have completely broken democracy in this country. I’m stunned that I couldn’t see it then. I guess the promise of a new Britain with a new un-stuffy PM, Britpop blaring from every street corner and all sharks halved, pickled and cabineted was too enticing.
Politics is SUPPOSED to be stuffy. It is supposed to be two teams of dusty old men – one staunchly left wing and socialist, the other staunchly right wing and conservative arguing in hoity-toity language about the boring nitty-gritty modus operandi of a civilised country. They should be dusty and old because that is the very hallmark of experience and maturity. They should be staunchly left or right wing because democracy happens in the middle there. With two extreme forces pulling either way, compromises reached should be more relaistic and logical.
Tony Blair ushered in an age of PR and palatable moderate politics. He glided effortlessly into leadership because for the majority of us who were only vaguely politically minded, bored of years of stuffy old stuck up leaders we went ‘yeah, it’d be nice to see a young normal guy in power who, like us, can see both sides of the argument’. Balls. We voted in a government who had no real political ideals – indeed their greatest ideal seemed to be ‘wouldn’t it be nice to be in charge?’. No vision. No experience. I only realised fully when Labour brought in tuition fees for universities. It seemed somewhat un-socialist. My sister is three years older than me, when she started uni in ’91, everybody got grants to assist accommodation and living, when I finished in ’99 not only were there no grants but new students had to also contribute around £1,000 a year to the actual education fees. Most of my friends from university would never have been able to go. When a progressive, socialist party allows such a radical veer away from egalitarian education, you know that something is amiss. This is just an isolated personal grumble but Blair blindly steamrollered many such things, even leading us to a futile war because he had no real gameplan and wasn’t experienced enough or equipped for the realities of power. The worst thing he did, however – which was inadvertent – was change the entire landscape. With a ruling left-wing-turned-moderate-turned-blah party, it’s a crying shame that the right wing saw fit to centralise too.
I don’t want to defend Gordon Brown, I think he is largely indefensible but the notion that getting him out of office would be a good thing for this country right now strikes me as insane. At least he was central in getting us into this mess, he has an understanding of the terrain. Even if he is a terrible leader generally.
Now let me address what this post is actually all about.
David Cameron is a terrible, terrible, terrible choice for prime minister. I just really don’t like him at all. It seems that you hear his name in the news far more often than Brown’s and that is because on a seemingly daily basis he is implementing his scheme – his golden tactic – of just saying ‘well we’d do the opposite’ of ANYTHING that appears unpopular in the media. Just in the news within the past month – Eco-towns, new runways, section 28, global poverty. He is with EVERYBODY. He chases every populist issue and just claims that it’d be different if he were voted in. He’s an ambulance chaser, an opportunist, a vulture.
The man only even became an MP in 2001. It blows my mind that an MP of so little experience and so obvious immaturity is, in all likelihood, going to be our next prime minister. What is particularly sad is that it won’t be the tories winning, it will be Labour losing. The answer to being disillusioned with a leadership is not to elect a new leadership displaying all of the early warning signs of the last – and a few more worrying ones.
Cameron is 43 years old and outside of the Conservative party, his experience seems to span only a period as director of corporate affairs for a media organisation.
At least John Major had served as Foreign Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer before his time as PM. Margaret Thatcher had 29 years as an MP under her milk-stealing belt along with 4 years serving as Education Secretary. Before that, Prime Ministers generally had many years as MPs, followed by strong government roles before even being suggested as running for leadership. From Heath backwards, many had global political experience through military and diplomatic roles. This is why they were dusty and old when they came to power. They’d been busy.
My point is that all of these leaders STILL fucked up. Often monumentally. Prime Minister is not a job anybody can just do well. It’s a job that can only be done to the best of one’s abilities and based upon strong ideals.
We should not be attracted to a politician based upon his physical vitality. Being ‘young’ or ‘dynamic’ is NOT a viable foundation for a world leader. To me, young means inexperienced and dynamic means impulsive.
I want a leader who has been about, seen the world, formed a strong and idiosyncratic view of Britain and decided they have a way of making it Great.. then has worked for many years on understanding, experiencing and respecting the way our parliament works, has served within government actively and built a portfolio of experience, instinct and policy which places them ready to lead.
We need to learn our lessons from New Labour and not embrace New Conservative. I’d have voted for Menzies Campbell based almost exclusively on his age and experience. I found it painful to see the media coverage of him (and one must assume his apparently enforced resignation) revolving around his being ‘too old’.
If the only thing a candidate has going for them is their life expectancy, that doesn’t bode well for the country. Because, really, when someone is fucking up as monumentally as Blair did and Cameron surely will, the last thing you want is an assurance of longevity.