After what might be regarded as the ‘traumas’ of 2016 suffered by the world of Western politics generally, it has been predicted by a number of pundits, commentators and indeed some politicians themselves that we’re going to be in for a pretty rough ride over the next twelve months.
One phenomena that fascinates me is the extent to which electorates have recently been either sticking two fingers up (or one if you’re an American) at the Establishment and the political classes.
This, of course, stems from the in-built problem with democracy that causes eternal frustration to ‘our leaders’ – i.e. (the bottom line is) that, whenever you ask ‘the people’ for their opinion, you might not like the answer – or indeed, you might not get the answer you were expecting.
This is a straightforward and very simple point and you’d think it would be self-evident and obvious.
However, politicians the world over – probably via the genetic make-up and intelligence that makes them enter politics in the first place – seem to have a common sense by-pass on this subject and/or frequently just ‘fail to get it’.
In the UK’s case, once they get elected as MPs and take their places in Parliament, all sense that they represent the people in their constituencies goes straight out the window. Suddenly they’re in the most famous political building in the world, hob-knobbing with hundreds of very rich and powerful (and in some cases celebrity) movers and shakers – and they get taken in by it all.
They begin to believe that they are there to make a difference, that they can change the world for the better. And life goes on. Until some three and a half to four years later the spectre of a General Election looms upon the horizon. Or these days, a Referendum.
Shock horror! This could mean the end of civilisation as we (they) know it! Hell, they could even lose their seat(s)! Something needs to be done – this cannot be allowed to happen … etc.
It seems to me that in both Britain and the United States of America 2017 is indeed going to be a very exciting and hectic year for ‘the Establishment’.
In the UK we’ve got the whole Brexit Saga, which is going to run and run. Most of the news stories and development these days are caused by the Establishment being absolutely horrified by the EU Referendum result and various factions within in it desperately trying to throw roadblocks in the formal of legal cases, senior civil servant resignations [add here anything else that you’d care to include] in the way in order ‘to save the UK electorate from itself’.
In other words, Nanny (or ‘Big Daddy’) knows best.
Elsewhere the Jeremy Corbyn crisis within the Labour Party lurches from one disaster to the next. Conservative Central Office couldn’t have scripted this situation if they’d tried, but the advent of Jeremy Corbyn has effectively castrated Labour as a serious political party in Britain for the foreseeable future.
Meanwhile, Theresa May (our new Prime Minister) is proving herself no more adept or competent as a political leader than anyone else in recent memory. Everything she does comes across to me as if she is a robot figure programmed with earnest-sounding but vague, wishy-washy, ideas who – once again, like many predecessors – loves the idea of being Prime Minister but really hasn’t a clue when it comes to policies and making a difference.
Her concepts of ‘Jams’ (Just About Managing) and ‘The Sharing Society’ could have come straight from the pen of David Cameron and if you think that’s intended as a compliment then you haven’t been reading my occasional columns in the Rust these past two years.
I despair of the state of British politics. The Conservatives seem to be floundering on the problems of the NHS. They keep on bleating about the additional money they’ve lobbed into it, but everywhere you turn you hear of more issues with cut-backs in services and ‘joined up’ aftercare that have been caused by Conservative government economic policies supposedly designed to ‘pay off the national credit cards previously maxed out by Labour’.
The truth that nobody seems to want to acknowledge is that is that comprehensive medical services require a lot of money to get them to work acceptably well and – if you’re not prepared to fund them somehow – then they’re going to crash. Money doesn’t grow on trees, but equally cutting services to the bone (and, for all their denials, that is what the Tories have been doing, directly or indirectly, by simply telling organisations to find 20% savings across the board etc.) by definition is going to end in a crisis one way or another.
And then there’s Donald Trump.
If you hypothetically are the most powerful country upon Earth and you hypothetically allow a totally-inexperienced semi-deranged lunatic to be elected to the White House, how long do you go on allowing him to endanger world peace and run his nation into the ground before somebody somewhere in the Establishment steps in and – on some basis … impeachment, tax evasion, stupidity, causing national embarrassment, whatever … gets him removed ‘for the good of the people’?
I don’t know why that’s such an absurd scenario to contemplate.
Let’s face it, in the UK left-wingers and the Labour Party, not to mention the unions, must have fantasised about ‘getting rid of Mrs Thatcher’ in the 1980s simply because, if only it could be achieved, things could/might go back to how they were before.
Ditto the Tories when Tony Blair was enjoying his eleven years in office, and certainly during the period when Gordon Brown briefly succeeded him.
Come to think of it, what’s to stop ‘the Establishment’ mounting a coup in order to prevent Brexit and restore the UK to full membership of the EU?
After all, democracy is far from a perfect system of government.
From their (the Establishment’s) viewpoint, it’s only something to which nations should play lip service – just to let the ordinary folk enjoy the illusion that their vote counts and that now and again they’re taking part in some great public exercise now and again – but which, in an ideal world, they should totally ignore, simply because it involves addressing issues which are far too important and complicated for the average man in the street to understand properly.