Last night the electorate was treated to one of the anticipated highlights of the General Election campaign, the BBC’s head-to-head hour-long debate between Boris and Jeremy, chaired by Nick Robinson on BBC1 at 8.30pm in front of a live audience. [It has just occurred to me that in using the words ‘treated’ and ‘live’ I may have misspoken].
In a way it summed up the current depressing state of UK democracy because inevitably it was yet another non-event in the merry-go-round heaped upon us by our liberal metropolitan Establishment elite. Personally I departed and went to bed after thirteen minutes, as I did so switching on my radio tuned to Radio Five Live only to find I was still listening to it as I headed to the land of Nod.
Let’s just re-heat where we’ve reached.
This was the Election set-piece that party leaders Jo Swinson (Lib-Dem) and Nicola Surgeon (SNP) had been demanding – to the point of failed legal action – that they be allowed to participate in.
Respectively, these are the politicians who began the campaign having declared themselves the next Prime Minister on a Remain ticket and yet (the polls show) since has been haemorrhaging support at an increasing rate of knots with every appearance she makes in public and the leader of a constituent (basket case) part of the country that, according to her, simultaneously doesn’t want to be part of it and yet also wants to remain in the EU, and would dearly love to be the holder of the balance of power in a hung Parliament.
Last night’s ‘event’ served only to confirm what everybody already knew, viz. that (1) neither potential Prime Minister come 13th December is really ‘fit for purpose’ in the sense their ability and statesman-like qualities fall way short of any sensible pass-mark; (2) they’ve been ‘coached’ up to the eyeballs by their back-room strategists and simply repeat their Party’s chosen campaign points and themes ad nauseam; (3) effectively all they ever do is ‘preach to the converted’ which in reality does little or nothing to persuade the sole animal that everyone seems to agree will decide the outcome – the undecided voter.
In which context it is perhaps worth noting that within the past week a sharply-intelligent and honest pollster appearing on Radio Five Live let a quarter of inconvenient cats out of the bag by pointing out that (1) approximately 500 seats in the House of Commons historically never change hands; (2) no matter what issues or arguments are aired during the course of an Election campaign and/or how these unfold, overwhelmingly most people will always vote the way they traditionally have; (3) a healthy majority of those who do vote in elections do so only out of a sense of “duty”; and (4) the logical chance of any individual’s “X” in the ballot box actually affecting a General Election result is as close to zero as makes no difference.
I’ve lost count of the number of times that instances of ‘fake news’ – real or imagined – promulgated by Party activists of every hue there is (and/or indeed alleged ‘hostile’ foreign powers) have featured, or been called out, in the media.
In summary, it is impossible to avoid the impression that – despite the elite Establishment’s collective insincere proud espousal and invoking of fundamental democratic principles – the truth is that the only time they actually engage with the public is when (depending on which Party they belong to) they have to try and seek either a renewal of their ‘mandate to rule’ or else acquire or retain their ‘legitimate right’ to place their backsides on the plush leather benches of the House of Commons for the next period.
In other words, ‘sit at the top table’ and indulge in Carry On Playing The UK Political Game As They Know And Love It.
In this they are aided, abetted and supported by the massed armies of the elite UK media who happily provide them with innumerable opportunities to appear in front of the public on television and radio playing said Game – nothing they love more, of course – whilst fondly kidding themselves, not only that what they say or do actually matters, but also that all viewers and voters will be impressed and engaged by what they behold.
Whether this conceit actually carries any weight with the UK public is arguably a moot point.
Based upon the evidence of the last six weeks, I strongly suspect quite the opposite.
Not only that, I’d hazard the guess that this 2019 General Election campaign has served chiefly to confirm in the mind of the average man (or woman) on the proverbial Clapham omnibus that there exists a damning ‘disconnect’ between people who enter national politics and everyone else.
And once it all ends – whatever the result – at least we won’t be subjected to the Elite shamelessly going through the motions of pretending that they care about any of us … until, that is, the next time.