Friday, September 22, 2006

The problem with so-called politicians...

Alright, this is going to come across as a mite naive but what the hell...

As one of the political theatre's more delicate actors (albeit more understudy than star), the one thing that really bothers me is the way that some people seem to think that it is better to undermine others rather than earn credibility themselves. I accept that it is probably easier (credibility is hard to gain, and remarkably easy to lose), but the collateral damage is often unfortunate, to say the least, and often affects those who least deserve it.

In the public sphere, attacks on politicians hurt families, loved ones and friends, and are often done in such a way as to cause maximum humiliation. Alright, politicians need thick skins but those around them are often unused to the glare of publicity and of guilt by association. They often don't choose public life and, in some cases, were never really consulted on the subject in advance. How many politicians actually ask their spouses whether they want them to become elected officials, with all the impact this can have on family life? Not enough, I fear. And what effect does it have on the prevailing political culture?

If you thought that your private life was likely to become the subject of prurient investigation by the tabloid press, wouldn't you rather go into commerce, where your private life is much more your own affair? And does the steady drip, drip, drip of poison encourage the average citizen to respect and trust their politicians? I don't think it does. Perhaps voters get the politicians they deserve...

And yet it can be worse within your own political family. The constant fight for competing agendas, personal or political, factional or philosophical, can leave a trail of emotional corpses, a fact often forgotten in the heat of battle. And all this by people who are supposed to be on your side! Politics is, at the highest levels, a game played by the hugely ambitious, with a long term goal of exercising power, regardless of the forum. The concepts of honour and principle are usually early victims and for the rest of us, realisation of this can become all too dispiriting, and it is no wonder that the burnout and dropout rates are sizeable.

Sometimes, in my darker moments, I find myself wondering if some of my colleagues have forgotten why we seek power in the first place. Something to think about, perhaps?

2 comments:

David Owen is Lucifer said...

Why the pretence about seeking power? What you are really after is a hung parliament and a shot at electoral reform (which neither of the two main parties have any intention of offering to you)
Ergo, the Lib. dems. remain in perpetual limbo, a kind of "first-past-the-post purgatory".

Mark Valladares said...

David,

With the best will in the world, I can't help but feel that you've missed the point of this comment. I was talking more about the impact of individual behaviour on the people around us, than on the pursuit for wider power as a political party.

However, power is not just exercised overtly, it can be as simple as moving the agenda which, it cannot be denied, Liberal Democrats do from time to time. Some of our policies are adopted by our political rivals, some used to influence their internal debates.

Besides, if you consider how far the Party has come over twenty years, it isn't wholly unreasonable to hope for even better things in the future...