Thursday, 26 June 2008

Labour's desperation...

I found this news quasi-amusing.

First of all, Labour find out that hurling abuse is not necessarily the best way to get what you want. Apparently, having good manners and listening to what people say is the most appropriate way to behave. My parents taught me that at a very young age. Are manners a new concept for the Labour MSPs?

Secondly, this story about FMQs is indicative of the twisted way that media 'commentators' view politics. Yes, in the age of spin, the pantomime that is FMQs (and PMQs) does impact on the fortunes or perceived fortunes of political parties. But, while it may be an amusing spectacle to the political hacks, it is far from REAL politics and really quite off putting for a lot of people. Politicians hurling abuse just reinforces the negative view that people already have of those involved in party politics.

On the doorstep recently, I met a lady who was very angry about politics and politicians, who she believed to be 'sleazebags' - 'every single one of them'! Rather than have what I would call a political reaction to that assertion and try to claim that all politicians except for those in the SNP were sleazebags, I think I had a very human reaction. I must have looked a little wounded at the insult, because the lady immediately said - 'well, I can tell you're not a sleazebag' and a conversation ensued about why a 'nice girl' like me would want to stand as an MP. I told her because I believe we can make a positive impact, not just in our communities, but across our country and even the rest of the world if we all pull together and work towards it. She looked at me with a grudging respect, but also a wry look that said 'she'll soon learn'. I'm not naive. I know I can't change the world. But I would like to think I might in some small way help to make it a bit better for some people in some way. I would rather try than just sit back and accept what I believe to be an unjust or unacceptable situation.

Anyway, I think the fact that the Labour Party believe they can 'beat' Alex Salmond and the SNP but trying to outmanoeuvre him at FMQs once a week is proof that they have lost their way once and for all. Real politics is about representation. The clue's in the term elected REPRESENTATIVE. Getting out there and talking to the people that you want to represent is real politics in my view. Perhaps I'm an idealist. Verging on pious these days? (I hope not!) All I know, is that I do not want to be an MP so that I can sit and hurl abuse at politicians from other parties, but so that I can work hard to make things better for people.


Jeff said...

Although I believe all new politicians go in with the same, worthy aims, I'm beginning to think there are ultmately 2 types of MPs.

(1) The sleazebags. They get sucked into the hurly-burly of it all; the money, the power, the delightful 'Westminster bubble' back-biting along party lines. As time passes, the electorate become a troublesome matter that needs addressed every 4 years but schmooze your way into a safe seat and even that's more and more irrelevant.

(2) The do-gooders. They are interested in effecting change and even voting along party lines is not so important as long as the 'correct' decisions are made. The frustration grows at the corruption and grubby career politicians and in the end, due to disenchantment, their mission is less about changing the world and fixing the global wrongs but more about helping the grannies down the road with very local problems and more of a councillor role.

I don't like to be so pessimistic or cynical but it seems to be going that way...

Apologies for my choice of phrase Julie, but I hope you can find a 'third way' when your time inevitably comes...!

Julie Hepburn said...

Hi Jeff. I'm actually a little more pessimistic than you are! I don't believe ALL new politicians start with worthy aims, but I do hope that at least MOST of them do.

I don't think there is anything wrong with spending a lot of time helping out individuals locally. Sometimes the problems that people approach politicians with may not seem much of a big deal in the grand global scheme of things, but they do matter and often a great deal to the people concerned. But you are right, that doesn't mean that politicians should focus just on 'firefighting' the barrage of local issues, at the expense of trying to affect more strategic changes that will ultimately improve all of our lives.

So, I'm not a sleazebag. I perhaps have a touch of the do-gooder about me, but I hope that means in the wider sense and that I won't be ground down by a perception that it's pointless to try and change things.

Anonymous said...


I would agree with your sentiments although I don't believe any one party has a monopoly on this.

In terms of the reasons for becoming a poltiician I think most have pure motives in that they believe there is an ideas gap in public life that only they can fill. You can call that arrogance but I do think it's what initially drives people.

After that there's probably an element of going native for many. I suppose again that's a human weakness - anyone that joins such a big group may fall into the habits and worst aspects of that organisation. This is especially true of one which has a selection process which has to create division.

Many people's views of politicians are driven by a media that characterises them as all evil. The reality is otherwise, especially if you sit down one-to-one, as you found with the women who 'didn't really mean you'.

You're right about FMQs not being about 'beating' the FM, although you can argue that things are no different now than from when the SNP were the Opposition. And it's also true of PMQs.

I was a supporter of the Scottish Parliament and think there's many positive innovations. But an FMQs that is designed to undermine the FM and a Standards Committee full of people with partisan leanings does not help us.

Still these are all changes which could be made, and that's the positive thing. Whether they actually happen or not is another matter.