The Year I Finally Lost Faith In British Politics

Great Britain


There had been times before; notably, when Edward Heath’s electability as Prime Minister hung on his ability to win a yacht race for the electorate, and again when the grey accountant John Major filled the country with red tape-bound middle managers. And who could forget Gordon Brown, fine as a best supporting actor but useless as a leading man? But at least there were always enough stars in the cabinet to keep replenishing the roster.

But then we arrived at Theresa ‘Point & Shoot’ May, a perfectly good governmental sniper who could be programmed to bring down any target, but no long-term tactician. Suddenly we have fragmented parties on both sides wherein politicians don’t just fail to agree but don’t know what each is saying; yesterday May and the health secretary Jeremy Hunt took opposing sides over the NHS, Hunt apologising for the mess, May announcing there was no mess at all. We have Boris Johnson, bouncing along in his own little world offending everyone, the environment secretary Michael Gove U-turning on farmers’ subsidies and endless reshuffles that only make matters worse.

Meanwhile Labour has fallen asleep under Postman Pat. Jeremy Corbyn, an invisible career politician who survived by never knowingly making a decision, is the quietest opposition in history. It took Tony Blair to point out that Labour could mount a powerful assault on the Government’s record, from the appalling state of the NHS to crime, if they set out the agenda which could be delivered to the people if not for Brexit. I want to vote Labour but Corbyn’s giving me no reason to do so.

For me, the final blow is the deliberate transfer of NHS care to the private sector, something I had personal experience of this winter, when I would have lost my eyesight waiting for NHS help. When I ran companies I had to pay for private healthcare cover as part of my employer insurance, and kept it on. What happens to those in my situation who haven’t spent the last quarter century paying into a private policy? While I appreciate that we have a greying population and increased welfare demands, the NHS remains an immovable policy cornerstone for all parties. Perhaps it’s illogical, like the obsession with the Green Belt many homeowners have (less than 10% of the UK is built upon), but healthcare in the UK is a right, not a bargaining chip.

Clearly the incumbent government can’t handle the EU and domestic policies at the same time, and most of those who try are operating far beyond their competency level. Who would want to be an MP now? Nigel Farage perhaps, because he’s never actually been one, but most sane people who give the job a swerve because they know they’d have so little power to effect change. Government is still a hierarchy in a time of networks – read Niall Ferguson’s ‘The Square and the Tower’ for more on that subject – and until it updates, little can be achieved.

Should I reflect my feelings in books? I’ve made a conscious decision not to overdo it, although I can’t help but reflect the times to some extent, even in genre entertainment. I get quite a bit of Republican mail complaining about ‘the liberal agenda’. That’s not going to change much.

Our picture today shows a pair of Tory MPs who nicknamed their newborn baby ‘Brexit’, a leap of imagination that rivals their choice of Christmas outfits.

9 comments on “The Year I Finally Lost Faith In British Politics”

  1. Brian Evans says:

    The trouble with May is :the lights are on, but there’s no one in. Or, with all this talk of robots-is she actually one and we haven’t been told?

  2. David Ronaldson says:

    I’ve always been interested in politics, but had any urge to participate knocked out of me during a spell as a Trade Union official. All the meetings we had involved in-fighting and internal political manoeuvring as the Far Left, the Centre Left and the Scottish Socialists fought for control of the Union. My refusal to join any of the factions and desire to improve conditions for union members was treated with patronising sympathy. A friend who involved himself in Conservatism at local council level encountered a local party full of self-serving business folk, politically to the right of Heinrich Himmler and focused solely on making money for themselves. It’s no wonder nothing gets done.

  3. David says:

    I still haven’t worked out what Liam Fox does for a living these days. He used to fulfil the role of shouty politician (on practically every subject). Last I heard, he wanted us to move to somewhere in the Pacific.

    David Davis just looks increasingly depressed. I wish Boris would on back on Have I Got News For You because at least there he can do little damage. Theresa could probably do with a neck massage. I am sure she must have a crick in it by now.

    Jeremy C still hasn’t decided which side has the greener grass but no doubt he’ll be out on it soon. His namesake the Chancellor, knows which side is greener but there is a damned great electric fence with machine guns and everything between him and it. The other namesake, the Health chap is sorry. Very sorry. No really… he is very, very sorry.

    Only Michael G seems to have achieved anything of note. He’s bought off the farmers and saved the british cheese industry. He just needs to decide where to send the new UK plastic mountain (Wales or the North?), and he’ll be three for three and a shoe-in for Theresa’s job, when she decides to retire or be retired.

  4. Brooke says:

    But don’t loose faith in government, especially the democratic form. And don’t confuse the two.

  5. Peter Dixon says:

    There are an awful lot of good constituency MPs on both sides. My (Labour) MP was a history teacher for 15 years before he became a politician and managed to gain his seat without spending years as a local councillor. He unseated a borough held by Tories for over 50 years and has been re-elected 3 times. He’s looked upon as capable and reliable by both sides.
    The difficulties are at Westminster and party HQ. Both sides of the spectrum (I think the Lib Dems wrote themselves off with their support of the Conservatives, so we don’t have an effective third way) don’t have a genuine manifesto or a front line team that have any character, experience, charisma, wit or charm. Its all filtered out by a process of homogonization so that we end up with career politicians with little idea of the real world and few true convictions. On the whole they are not interested in government or responsibility but in beating the other side and gaining power and then wondering what to do once they’ve got it (See: Trump, Donald).
    I’ve always admired Michael Heseltine, not because of his politics but because he started his life in publishing, producing a magazine and building up an empire from scratch. He knows what he’s talking about and isn’t afraid to say it. The country is ill served by 5 year governments who set up supposed schemes that are slowly dismantled by later incumbents. Maybe governments should be made to understand that ALL progress is bound to be expensive and stop trying to save money through cuts that hurt everyone.

  6. John Griffin says:

    Alas we are not governed but led by dolts with burnt-out ideologies. And every time I have tried – with others including Tories – to do what is best for our community, it is scuppered by politicians (usually Tory as this is a Tory area) of the money-grubbing self serving ilk. My local MP is Michael Fabricant, which should tell you everything.

  7. Helen Martin says:

    I’ve often thought that the idea of limiting a person’s time in office is not such a bad thing but then what little power the elected people have over the bureaucracy would completely disappear. Nevertheless, anyone standing for office should have more experience and knowledge than a poli-sci degree and working in some minister’s office. (See “Yes, Minister”)

  8. Wayne Mook says:

    To be honest I find it fascinating what’s going on.

    The main parties are going to have to change across Europe from the problems in Germany and Spain to the Brexit agenda.

    People have used democracy to voice a protest, now I am a remainer so disagree with what they have done, but it’s better than the old days when you’d have civil unrest and in dire cases war.

    For sometime politicians have concentrated on the what the see as a small segment of voters that made a difference in elections without taking care of their main followers. Plus they have scapegoated certain things, Europe in the UK, without tackling some of the real problems, The financial services needed (and still do.) to be regulated properly (and I don’t just mean banks & tax.) but were not because of the money and power that was generated, even if a lot of this was a bubble, or if we don’t intervene don’t prop them up and let full market forces take there course.

    Hopefully politicians will start to listen to people and address those problems and do something about the monopoly of capital.

    The ignored are screaming but they are using democracy to scream. That’s good.

    As for the Trevelyan style of civil service you see in Yes Minister that went out a long time ago. M. Thatcher restructured it and it’s now the ‘can do system’ which has it’s own faults. Scottish tax bands have changed and will be in place next tax year, and the mass cuts and the replacement by online systems are taking place so it shows things are put through and rapidly if physically possible. On a downside the problems with Universal Credit which would have been stopped UC under the old system but under the new civil service it will be implemented unless government stops it, even though there are political and structural probs.

    Interesting times, for sure.


  9. Martin Tolley says:

    Nothing new in the world of politics. HL Mencken in 1911 about the US… the political culture he witnessed was an “endless saturnalia of bunk, of bluff, of stupidity, of insincerity, of false virtue, of nonsense, of pretense, of sophistry, of paralogy, of bamboozlement, of actorial posturing, of strident wind music, of empty words—even, at times, of downright fraud.”

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