He’s finally done it…

1 03 2008

So good old Dave has finally come out and said something I agree with. At the Conservative Conference in Wales, Cameron has, amongst other things called for “broken politics” to be mended. He has insisted there is too much in the way of spin in politics, and that because of the actions of a few members of parliament, there has been a ‘breakdown of public faith'(BBC).

I agree, at least in part, with his whole speech. Blaming ‘spin’ on the Labour party though, although probably accurate, is almost like shooting yourself in the foot, as the Conservatives now employ spin too.

Bur I do agree that politicians have become concerned with personality politics, which leads to a collapse of public confidence, as Cameron suggests. The trouble is, if you live by the sword (employing personalities to sell something) you inevitably die by it (when things go wrong for those personalities, they go really wrong). The public do not know which way to turn, there is no good option now, the question is about who is less bad. Consequently, the final option to them is to turn away. Be that in the form of not voting at all, or emmigrating to the continent or further afield.

Disillusionment is rife in Britain, and it should be the politicians job to do something to eradicate this frustration. As it is, the politicians are more concerned with political one-upmanship. They wish to outscore their opponent with a witty repost, or a bigger and better way of saying basically the same thing. The Conservatives have recently launched a nice new advertising campaign with promises of more police (surely paying the current ones a better wage first should be a priority?), an improved NHS, and a more stable economy. Which is all very well and good, and honestly, I think the campaign looks smart. But I’m asking myself whether the Labour camp will say the same thing, because, lets face it, they are not going to win any voters by offering a worse economy, or a failing NHS are they?

Returning to the point, I have long championed the argument that communications between MP’s and their electorate should be vastly improved. I still consider this the best way of removing disillusionment. If politicians talked more to their voters, then the voters can have fewer complaints about being ignored, and the MP’s would have a much greater understanding of what the people want.

That does not mean that I, as a voter, should simply wait for my politician to come and talk to me about what I think needs improving etc, but I maintain that the there should be a greater onus on communication, something which works both ways.

And so I am very much relieved that those in the Guild have finally clicked this. Checking out the manifestos for those running for President, and the same things seems to crop up (thus reflecting politics in general?). One of which is communication. They are beginning to understand that to be representative of the people is not simply to win votes but to actually talk to the people and act upon what they are saying.

Last week I was involved in a discussion with members of my department (both teaching and student) about the proposals for a restructure of the course. The staff wanted to know what we thought. There were (I think) three groups of roughly 10 people each who volunteered to learn more and offer criticisms or suggestions about this syllabus change. From this I’m led to believe that voluntary actions won’t work as well. Those at my meeting all had thoughts and opinions about the plans, and were keen to speak about it and discuss it. Students aren’t apathetic, they just need a push. If such meetings were compulsory (and I know of the difficulty of logistics) then I’m sure feedback would be useful as students would have concerns about their course, or university life in general. By making engagement compulsory, then maybe people could start getting enthused with things again.

It isn’t just small university admin-type politics either, there is no reason the Guild couldn’t have meetings, through the Guild Councillors, with the students to discuss things and give feedback on issues which affect them.

I’m just trying to propose some ideas with the main premise that people aren’t engaging because those in control do not engage with them in the first place. Improve communication, and I think you will go a long way towards improving politics.

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