Sunday, 30 April 2017

GE2017: lots of options, but no real choice.

I've been on Facebook for about ten years. When it first started I would add virtually anybody. In that time you get sucked into certain political circles. About that time there were a couple of people I marked as future MPs. I wasn't wrong. You know the type. Changes their profile pic come election time, goes out and does the leafleting and sings the party song just biding their time for when a landslide like this one makes itself apparent.

Consequently what we get from this election is a new crop of middle class conformist Tories who go to all the right charity events and go to the right party dinners. Malleable social climbers who will come to the defence of virtually any policy, performing ever more elaborate mental gymnastics to defend the indefensible. This is why I get a strong whiff of fascism from any party political person. Obedience is a mindset.

It would be wrong to single out the Tories. It's just their turn. The last time around it was all the London NGO functionaries and PPE graduates who weaselled their way into office. It takes a particular sort of suck up.

By the time they get into office there is very little of what you would call a normal human being left. They go native - and then when you put them all together in Westminster which has its own public school traditions they get worse.

In some circles I am quite well known for not liking anybody in the political domain. Very often people sardonically ask me if there is anyone I do like and the answer is always no. Superficially some of them are likeable but I judge them on whether they put the work in or not.

In this we find very few actually do their homework. Their rely on television news media, the Times, the Telegraph and the Guardian, they take party briefing notes as gospel and they invest very little in original research. Their researchers will very often be juniors or twenty-somethings with no knowledge or experience. It is a culture of ignorance.

A new trend I have noticed now how it maintains barriers to knowledge. I am now following a number of people on Twitter who have profile pictures of themselves giving evidence to select committees. It's the fashion accessory to have right now. Because the system lacks the ability to recognise real expertise they pick the ones who make the most noise - and usually those with the best Westminster connections. Everything inside this system is based on political vanity.

And this is why we are ultimately headed for the Brexit rocks. There are powerful tribes with old money backing who are quite adept in ensuring only those who conform to their respective ideologies are recognised which is why the consultants and think tanks with first ministerial access all tend to be hardcore free market head-bangers. Or as you or I would call them, lunatics.

Curiously this is a particularly British phenomenon. Reading a lot of the European reaction to the UK government's approach and they are absolutely staggered by the hubris and what has been described as "invincible ignorance". Such a term beautifully encapsulates the London politico-media nexus. Their stupidity is incurable because conformity is prized over knowledge.

A lot of people over the years have encouraged me to go into politics but this is really the reason why I don't. There is a game to be played, the game has rules and it has ways and means of dealing with mavericks. More to the point, nobody is immune to the London bubble. It doesn't take long for newcomers to get caught up in the prestige and soon after start believing in their own superiority. It is contagious. Even those with a proximity to it are in some way infected. There are various gossip circles each trading in a handful of narratives, factoids and memes which become ossified groupthinks. If there is one guaranteed way to traverse your own rectum it is to move to London.

This is why things just don't seem to change. There is the political conversation in London and then there is the political conversation everywhere else. There is very little crossover. If you're not in London you're not in the game.

I am not the first to observe that the party system is dying. This election is all the proof you could ever need. I have long thought it was on a countdown to extinction and this current crop of party hacks will be among the last. The new intake of plastics will be as repellent as the last.

The only reason the Tories are headed for a substantial win is because there isn't an alternative. If you are going to have idiots in charge then you might as well stick with the idiots you have who are at least experienced. The last thing we need is a clan of amateurs at this particular time. That, though, is not a vote of confidence in the Tories. More it is a resigned shrug - which is why this election is devoid of energy. It will very rapidly become apparent that this government is out of its depth and that a new approach is needed.

As much as anything this election once again underscores how little choice we have and ultimately neither choice is especially palatable. On the one hand we have a Tory party hell bent on Brexit ragnarok and on the other a band of political cowards clambering for the status quo, unable to grasp that this is no longer an option. Anyone wanting a sane and competent government this time around is fresh out of luck. The Westminster system just doesn't cater for that.

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