Where has all the love gone for our politicians?
From the suave David Cameron and the smooth talking Nick Clegg, to the pragmatic Ed Balls and the eloquent Ed Miliband; the current batch of politicians have tried and failed to gain our trust and respect. Why do we not trust our politicians? The expenses scandal helped, as did Clegg and his tuition fee’s pledge; the numerous U-turn’s by the coalition most definitely assisted as well as Plebgate and other such incidences of politicians behaving badly. On a more basic level MP’s fail to say what they actually mean, and instead of answering questions, they float around the subject throwing rhetoric around like its going out of fashion. They say the politically correct comment, or the comment that keeps party members onside whilst holding on the key swing votes. Politics has become a strategic game, with spin-doctors running the show and politicians being the shiny faced front of backroom campaigns. Most certainly the media and society has played a role in this evolution and elections of late have become a popularity contest for some voters, and the phrase ‘MP bashing’ comes to mind when you think of certain newspaper headlines. We seem to have clearly identified the characteristics we do not want from our MP’s, so now lets decide what we do want.
The catalyst for this article is the research of MP Gloria de Piero into why people hate politicians, so it appears apt that we should start there. She surveyed a range of people in different settings from aerobics classes to golf clubs. When asked to list words that they associate with politicians the answers that occurred most were; “us” and “them” and “they don’t live in the real world”. Other significant answers revolved around MP’s being privileged and having been educated at Cambridge and Oxford. A similar YouGov poll found that only twelve percent of people agreed that parliament did a good job of understanding the daily lives of people like themselves. The trend that appeared in the research was that people feel detached from Westminster. Although many stated that they ‘liked’ their local MP, they felt there was a definite detachment with themselves and the House of Commons. Currently less than ten percent of all MP’s have had a manual job. So this feeling of a privileged background and not understanding the people they govern, is perhaps warranted.
Politicians are elected to serve the people. We choose these people to make the difficult decisions and serve the democracy they work for. The Social Attributes Survey began in 1987 after every election to gauge how much we trust our government to place the needs of the nation above the interest of their political party. In 1987 forty-seven percent believed that they would, that figure after the coalition had formed in 2010 had dropped to twenty percent. We may appear democratic in our style of election and structure of parliament, but if politicians begin to “play politics” instead of solely serving the people, then trust will break down and we will find ourselves in the position we are currently in. The partisan politics of Westminster which see’s grown men and women trading insults across a table supported by the heckles of backbenchers, is not what true politics should be all about. Scenes such as those seen in Prime Minister’s questions serve solely to boost the ego’s of some whilst breakers the ego’s of others. No real worthwhile politics is practiced through this session.
So we arrive at the point now where trust and confidence in our MP’s is incredibly low. Loyalist supporters may still stand by their parties, clinging onto the original ideals that helped create the parties. However smaller parties that actually do speak truthfully and honestly, if not sometimes worryingly, are gaining more support. The success of the Green Party is perhaps an example the main parties should be following, whereas the rise far right groups, here in the UK and Europe as a whole, is a warning to us all that main stream party politics has to change.
It is time for a political evolution. Our MP’s need to start stating exactly where there sit on the issues that concern the country, and illustrate where their political ideals lie. That way the public can make an informed vote, and the election system, as a whole would be greatly improved. The public and the media could then never claim that politicians have lied, we still might not like the politicians in power, but importantly this would concern political differences, not deceitfulness on behalf of the MP. I would respect an MP far more who answering a question on a contentious issue, answered honestly and identified how they would act on this issue. If we knew exactly what politicians believed the voting system would be greatly improved. Furthermore an opposition who praised the government for good policies whilst criticising them for bad policies would gain far more trust and respect from the public.
The political game that is currently played has run its course and needs to be replaced by a more honest form of politics. When deciding to enter politics, people should do so, in order to serve the nation. Currently that is getting lost amidst party politics and self-serving individuals.
If a nation is to uphold its democratic ideals, the government has to respond to the wishes of the people. We are fed up of the way MP’s currently act. When asked a question we want an answer. We might not agree with that answer, but that is for us to decide, not the politicians. Westminster needs to trust the nation to decide who we want to serve the country, that way we can trust the politicians to act with integrity and honesty. A politician serves their country; they do not serve their party. Politics need to become a system of honest political ideals, if a politician is true to what they state they believe, a nation will be far more likely to trust and respect that individual. Politics needs to change or risk losing the people they claim to be serving.