Watched Question Time last night, followed by Scottish First Minister’s Questions and the House of Commons debate on party funding. Now we have the pompous bombastic George Galloway back in parliament on the back of anti- war vote. The Iraq War continues to undermine Labour’s credibility as a trustworthy political party of the left.
What a sorry state our politics is in.
The Question Time panel consisted of two Tory MPs (isn’t it great that they get a Tory and a LibDem to say the same things now on the programme), the Tory Chair (David Dimbleby) who can always be relied on to remember some 10 year old mistake by Tony Blair and to interrupt any Labour person on the panel with it. Douglas Alexander sat like a chump in the middle, giving a very poor performance. He was like a novice schoolboy debater who doesn’t understand how to deal with heckling interruptions. He didn’t appear to know that Ed Balls has outlined a carefully structured recovery plan. He had no response to the simplistic lampoons of Labour policy delivered by every other panel member and seemed to have no grasp of how to communicate some of the key messages people need to hear just now about the mismanagement of the economy. Read the article here if you want some clear analysis. However even following Labour’s policy the challenge would still be enormous – under George Osborne’s stewardship, it’s a disaster:
The panel were flanked by the effete establishment insider Simon Jenkins, who gave the impression of weary Olympian detachment, and the parody of an alternative comedian that is Alexei Sayle, who received the biggest applause of the night because people prefer a person who couldn’t run anything, a crazy chump with nothing useful to say, to politicians whom they don’t trust.
After that it was yah-boo politics cubed as I watched Alex Salmond put down his opposition questioners, without really engaging with the issues which they raised, by finding some personal weakness, or disparaging the quality of the questions. Even worse was Francis Maude, attacking Labour for spoiling cross party talks on party funding. In both parliaments, the them-us tribalism of the cross party fights demeaned all of those taking part. British and Scottish politicians do politics as gang warfare – it’s more important to trash the opposition than to examine the issues.
Never was there a stronger argument for political education. We need voters who require a more mature politics. I
Speaking at the end of World War II, with all the ambition to create a new and better world that characterised that period, Nye Bevan gave powerful expression to the important role schools might play in democratic formation:
… for the first time in history the common man steps on the stage. We insist that education is primarily concerned with the ordinary person, and not with the exceptional person. The ordinary person is asked to decide issues of far greater gravity than any exceptional person in the past… These boys and girls are to be asked to wield the royal sceptre; we must give therefore give them the souls of kings and queens. Otherwise it may be said that we took the ordinary man from the shadows of history and set him in the fierce light that beats upon thrones and he was blinded and ran away.
Let’s bring out politics up to that standard!
Are we blinded?
Have we run away?