So, in Britain yesterday there were some local and European elections. We won’t know the results of the European elections until Sunday, but many of the local election results are now in. A party who have been in the news a lot because they say belligerent things are doing quite well. But in reality, they haven’t made much of their policies clear (apart from their wanting to split from the EU).
Instead of talking about policies and ideas to help citizens, all of the parties are guilty of using soundbites and inconsequential things to distract the public. But this seems to be what the public want. In televised debates, the onus is on personality and saying the right thing. It’s like the public isn’t capable of engaging in real debate, or, the political parties and media think their audience is that unintelligent.
Hilary Mantel recently said that: ‘What appals me is that people mistake this constant storm of trivial abuse for some kind of freedom … It’s not. It’s actually a huge distraction of the bread and circuses variety. To a large extent proper civic engagement, community engagement, proper political debate and activism has been replaced by this. By illogic. By platitudes. And actually a lot of it is just abuse and bullying.’*
I believe that she is right. A lot of people who think that they are voting for change have actually voted for more of the same – the same rich white men in charge – only now there is more racism. People have confused the aggressive and unpleasant things coming out of clueless candidates’ mouths with their being unrestricted by Westminster, and therefore free. These aggressive and unpleasant statements are often defended by people using the phrase “they’re just saying what we’re all thinking.” This concept is illogical. People think different things, though I suppose you wouldn’t know it by looking at the newspapers. We need to encourage more real debate. The people who voted in their droves think that this will change things. How could it? These newly elected councillors are very similar to a lot of other councillors; they just say more ridiculous things because they know that this will get them publicity. Their ideas should get publicity, rather than the hostile things that come out of their mouths or Twitter feeds. We should spend less time analysing how politically incorrect something is and more time analysing what these people might actually do if they get power.
But they have some power now so I guess we’ll find out. You are supposed to know beforehand, though.