“I’m thinking I might stand in the next election as an independent for Doncaster North, which is where I’m from.Thoughts?” Jeremy Clarkson’s tweet last week garnered him national attention as across the country people reacted to the, good or bad, news that he might be considering running for a place in government.
Which got me thinking about British government and what we, as the normal people, actually know about it. The idea of Jeremy Clarkson in some sort of government role is not a new one and if you, like me, have any friends on Facebook that are fans of him, then it is likely that you will have seen the ‘Jeremy Clarkson for Prime Minister’ fan pages; and until now the idea has probably been a borderline joke – an idea for people to consider whimsically in almost the same way that they think about winning the lottery. But the thing is, what this story got me thinking is that, more than ever, we as a population view our country’s politics more as a series of gimmicks and publicity stunts than ever before.
Take, for a stunning example of my point, Boris Johnson, father of a fleet of ‘Boris Bikes’ and the man that oversaw London’s hosting of the Olympics – he is perhaps the perfect figure to symbolise all of British politics, but then also the exception to it – his figure is the intelligent man shrouded behind the visage of idiocy and then liked accordingly; the difference here being that most other politicians are intelligent men shrouded behind the visage of idiocy and then hated for it. So how does he get away with it? Well the answer is simple: he is almost entirely shameless, how many other politicians would be willing to zip-line to celebrate Britain’s first gold, or to play tennis with Andy Murray and Jonathan Ross? The truth is that Boris Johnson’s persona has almost eclipsed his politics, and the London electorate that has voted him into power, for five years now, have been voting for him, rather than for his policies.
…where supreme authority over decision making resides…
It seems that more and more the British government is just a series of posh, well-educated, middle-aged men competing to be seen as one of the people; presently, the politics are becoming second string to all of the posturing, self-aggrandising and egotism that our leaders or potential leaders are constantly competing in.
So what do we actually know about our politics? A little research and you will find that the average member of the British public knows very little about it, so here is a quick breakdown: our government is led by the Prime Minister, who we indirectly elect in that we vote for parties not for the man, or woman, themselves, and who in turn chooses the rest of the ministers, who we elect into office but not into their designated roles; this group of people forms the Cabinet, where supreme authority over decision making resides, any decisions here made are, once made, then passed on to Parliament, the men and women who represent each of the national constituencies and the general population, made up of the democratically elected House of Commons and the Sovereignly elected House of Lords, where independent bills can also be put forward, and they can either choose to pass or negate whichever motion is put forward following a series of committee, amendments, and general consideration. So there, in a nut-shell, is the process that British Government depends upon – if you already knew that then you are one of a dwindling minority.
…The Cabinet is swayed by popular demand…
So then what I want you to consider is whether or not you believe that this series of practises represents a democratic leadership. True, we, as an electing nation, do choose who sits in the House of Commons; but do we decide which decisions are passed down to Parliament? The Cabinet is swayed by popular demand, they do what they think the people will like, but the problem is that, as I have already hinted at above, the bridge between the politicians and the normal people is one that is littered with media mines and opinion fuelled crevices. There are not many people that took to Cameron’s ‘Hug a Hoodie’ campaign for the simple reason that, in making his speech about softer approaches to crime, he made it entirely obvious how little he understands the ‘Hoodie’ demographic – in trying to be one of the people he made it all too clear how far from being that he really is. In the same way that an awkward dad tries to be cool around his children, Cameron negated any possibility of the general public liking him.
So perhaps the question we need to ask is: is there any way that we can make the British Government a more trusted and approachable body? In the run up to every election we hear the same promise that, in the event of their election, one elective or another would create a ‘transparent government’ but we are still waiting for it; maybe the information is out there and accessible, but is it accessible in a way that means that any person living within the nation could find it? Probably not. We are also promised election on election that ‘the election of this party will be the start of a change’ and I would say that to date the exact opposite is true; in fact, British Government has become a tedious list of bland and uninspiring politicians that have made little to absolutely no lasting effect upon the way that the country is run – and the end result is that today we are forced to choose one of two highly unelectable individuals – so many people choose not to choose.
…why would I vote for one if I disagreed with them all?…
You see a lot of people on their high horse looking down on or condemning the ‘my vote won’t change anything’ approach to politics, but increasingly I find myself entirely in agreement with these people; when all is said and done, and when Cameron and Milliband and Clarkson and Johnson have all stated their opinion and piece, then why would I vote for one if I disagreed with them all?
Maybe we need more political education? Maybe we need more options in election season? Or maybe we need to overhaul the whole system of British Government? To me, it seems that the flaws outweigh the positive side of politics; if a nation cannot look to its leaders as figures of trust then, even with their legally elected leadership, how can a nation’s government ever be considered a true symbol of democracy?