In recent years we have seen the media and the public almost turn on politicians having seen them go from being a reasonably respected group of individuals to being a group that are not trusted and are “fair game” for overly intrusive media attention. Now some of it is justifiable but some is using those justifiable occurrences to take cheap shots at anyone who is in a position of responsibility.
Over the past 5 or so days we have seen the story of Paris Brown develop; once it was revealed she had said a few questionable things on twitter. The media went to town on this 17 year old saying she was unfit to do her job and so on; which ultimately lead to her resignation. Now in this whole situation I don’t think she was at fault, but that there was improper due diligence in her appointment, which if it had been carried out then none of this whole debacle would have seen the light of day.
However it now raises one big question for anyone who is contemplating running for office in the UK, and that is “is it really worth it?”
Social media is a great thing, it lets you share and communicate ideas with people all over the world but equally it lets you have heated discussions about those ideas which could result in you saying something that could if taken on its own be taken very out of context. That in turn is used as a big stick to beat you over the head with should you run for office.
However it also has the problem of preserving for all time (unless you go back the next day and delete it) what you say, so all those conversations you had when you were 14, 15 & 16 that you would now look at and think oh dear did I really say that? Are as good as set in stone, for anyone to come along and dig up at a later date.
Which leads us with a bit of a tricky situations if the media are going to now go after anything that anyone has said before they were appointed or elected to a position, then with social media that is really going to limit the pool of people we have available to draw upon for these people.
Which in the meantime raises the question, who would really want to be a politician? We have all done or said something in the past that the media would probably jump on much in the same way that they jumped on a 17 year old. So this really has to make a lot of people thing do I really want to be put in the same position.
We often hear that politicians are out of touch with the common person, and they have no life experience before becoming an MP. Which may be true in some cases, but could this fact be down to the media. If we want MP’s who know what life is about, who have some experience of life then we as a nation have to accept that they may have done things some of us would disapprove of.
So the way I see it we have two options, we either accept that people have lived lives and done things that we may think “Oh dear, I wouldn’t have done that” and subsequently get MP’s and alike with life experience. Or we end up with MP’s who from the age of 14 or so decided they wanted to be an MP and lived a sheltered life not daring to put a foot wrong and in turn having no experience with life what so ever.
As I am sure even some of our past MP’s like Churchill, Baldwin, Attlee all probably did things in their youth that if they were around today would be front page news. That would probably cause them to have to resign before they did what they did.
So the choice is simple dull MP’s or MP’s with life experience?
The past 2 years have shown us that to be an opposition leader or shadow minister is actually a really easy job. As all you have to do is stand there say you shouldn’t do that, oh we wouldn’t do that and lots of other really easy things to say. This Labour opposition well have done jolly good at saying they wouldn’t do that or your cutting too far and too fast and lots of other media friendly sound bites. Yet we haven’t heard what alternative they would do instead. They have become more a party of opposition not an opposition party.
So this got me thinking it’s easy to say what you wouldn’t do and as a result have the public say oh we like the sound of that, and get a boost in the opinion polls as a result of it. But what is hard to do is to actually put down some policies for the public to look over and see just what they would do. As at the moment all we know about Labour is they wouldn’t cut as much and they would borrow some more for a stimulus package of some sorts.
Now that on its own is not really a lot, how much more would they borrow? £1bn, £10bn, £100bn or £1,000bn? And how much less would they cut by, a million pounds less of cuts is cutting by less. So the public are left hearing we would spend more and cut less. Which when times are hard is quite appealing more money in your pocket and more public sector people there to help. Which in a sense is conning the voters that you would be better, when in reality you may only borrow a little bit more and cut by a little bit less.
Which is really not on as you could very well be giving false hope to the electorate that things may be financially better under the party that well let’s face it caused the mess in the first place. Then it hit me that for financial policies not would the government publish its plans and have them put in to action like they have done.
But that the opposition party would have to publish some strict economic policies that list values detailing both proposed increases in spending and budget cuts. That would then be given to the Office for Budget Responsibility who would look over them and model them to see just how they would play out. Then this data would be released to the public so that the electorate could see just how or if there would be any difference in the two sets of policies.
So that they could then make an informed and educated decision on the plans of the government and the opposition so when it came to an election people could vote more informed. I also think you could probably extend it to other areas such as reform of services.
Then when it gets to the time for a general election the OBR could do maybe a TV program that would illustrate the different positions that the two parties would have got the country to. Which could list things like national debt, the state of the emergency services and the NHS and all the other things may be presented by Andrew Neil or someone. What I think is great about this idea is that you couldn’t have an opposition party saying something really stupid like they would give every one £1,000 because that would be factored in to the calculation so overly populous policies couldn’t be trouped out just to win votes then returned to the closet under the stairs.
In my opinion it would be beneficial for everyone, opposition leaders would really have to think about what they were saying, the government may pick up on an idea that they missed and implement it and above all the voters would get to see the big what if question. So its win win all round.