To my mind examining British politics is a bit like peering into a prefect’s common room to see Cameron, Miliband and Clegg ‘Minor’ taking turns to practice their end of year debating skills.“The right has it, the left has it, and aye the centre has it”. But can the centre hold?
“Who cares “says I
Well hang on, surely I care don’t I? I mean it wasn’t that long ago that I cheered on Labour because I wanted them to come along and make everything better.
Well they did, for a while, and it wasn’t really their fault there was a terrorist attack which led to a war, which helped divert attention away from the naughty little bankers and anyway, we were all too busy making the most of it and waving our credit cards in the air weren’t we?
But all good things come to an end and before we knew it the party was over, Blair called a cab, the iron chancellor creaked his rusty way onto the world stage and suddenly it all became so bloody boring as all the real characters exited stage right (or left) leaving an altogether less passionate group of politicians behind them and a country which suffered as a result.
Oh nowadays you will still get the rhetoric and big brown puppy eyes beseeching you to do the right thing, you will get earnest points delivered by politicos in tailored shirts with rolled up sleeves, you will even get tweeting and ‘likes’ on facebook but passion? Not a chance.
Back then everything seemed so wonderfully clear cut. With radically opposing parties scrapping it out for the love of the electorate, pantomime heroes and villains caricatured in newspapers and not afraid to stand up for what they believed in, even if it made them unpopular.
Now it’s just dull – yellow, red and blue pale imitators carefully keeping to the middle of the road and avoiding extreme bends with their Volvo shaped policies.
Which is why the words of Commons Speaker John Bercow are so important:-
“”I think there is a wider dissatisfaction that people feel, partly that the parties are still quite similar and perhaps there isn’t a huge choice, and partly they feel, well ‘I said what I wanted, and I voted accordingly, but I haven’t got what I wanted or what I voted for two years ago'”
Well disaffection leads to apathy and apathy leads to boredom which destroys our desire to vote. As a result turnout drops and we are all the poorer for it as we end up creating a self sustaining prophecy.
In Scotland we have a secret weapon against apathy called Alex Salmond, a bogey man demanding independence and who is also coincidentally Scotland’s first minister. A paradox who is liked and loathed in equal measure and also one of the finest politicians of his generation.
He has certainly rattled the ‘establishment’ which is why as I write this the mainstream press are preparing to castigate him with pitchforks and burning oil for telling fibs (allegedly).
But the point is he is gaining column inches two years before the vote for independence here, because both his personality and convictions mean something to others.
So can I suggest that David, Edward and Nicholas come and spend some time with Uncle Alex and learn how to inject some personality and life back into British politics?
Before we lose all desire to ever vote again.