“I don't do politics” is such a dumb thing to say...
I couldn't even begin to count the number of times that someone I know has said “I don't do politics” and it always makes me laugh.
I've worked out a number of reasons why people say it (let me know if you can think of more):
1 – they choose to remain ignorant
2 – they don't understand it and try to ignore it
3 – they really believe that politics doesn't affect them
4 – they're plain stupid and have no idea what they're saying
So le me deal with these in list order:
1 – ignorance
In my view, those who don't show any interest in politics have no room to make comments. Far too many people are politically ignorant and choose to stay that way.
The problem with this is that everyone has an opinion (and you're currently reading mine) but those who have no idea about what's happening in the political arena speak from a position of little or no knowledge.
These folks really ought to take this to heart: “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”-- Mark Twain (1835-1910)
2 – Lack of understanding
I think that the majority of people fall into this category in that politics is so poorly understood. I'm not sure if the political establishment intends it this way but poor turnouts at elections tend to favour the incumbent government. So it could be argued that political education is deliberately left out of UK education.
But, just like being ignorant, there's no excuse for not understanding. It'll take a bit of study but politics is far from as complex as many people seem to think.
3 – Politics doesn't affect them
I've actually heard a few people say this, and to call the person who says it 'stupid' is really being kind.
You can't help but be affected. Politicians make decisions on loads of different things in our lives, even down to the amount and content of advertising allowed during your favourite TV shows.
4 – Stupidity
This is more common than even I expected. Far too many people have an opinion on politics but are just too stupid to stop and think about what they believe. The popular press does little to help by sensationalising the absurdities in politics (and yes there's a few of them).
But I often wonder how many people stop and think about or question whether what they're being told is actually the truth.
So next time someone says “I don't do politics” just remind them that 'politics does you”.
Whether it's through taxes, city planning, school funding (or lack of), state benefits, driving speed limits, where you can and can't smoke, the price of the sugar that goes into your chocolate (I could go on) or a large number of other things – these things affect you, it's impossible to escape.
So to say “I don't do politics” really is just dumb!
Do you have a thought on this? By all means make a comment below...
If you've read a few of my blog items or even actually know me a little, you might have gathered that I'm somewhat cynical about a few things, quite a few things in fact.
And this is particularly the case when it comes to politics. So please, indulge me in my rant because I do have a point to make...
A couple of months ago we (that is 65% of those eligible) went and voted in the general election hoping to make our lot a bit better.
My take on the last government is that they hadn't much of a clue when the good times of economic boom (largely fuelled by someone else's money) came to an inevitable end. Just like the 1970's the Labour party inherited a favourable economy and by the time they were ousted they'd stuffed it up. The only difference is that last time it was 'tax and spend' and this time it was 'borrow and spend'. Sadly the net result was the same: recession.
But the thing we're all concerned about is whether the Con-Lib mob can do better.
David Cameron tells us that it's a mess and that we're all going to have to muck in, which is great Dave but you're a multi-millionaire living in a rent-free Westminster terraced house.
George Osborne tells us that the economy is worse than Alistair Darling was letting on (which doesn't surprise me at all) and that we're all going to have to suffer tax increases, which is great George but you're a multi-millionaire living in a rent-free Westminster terraced house.
Can't quite work out where Nick Clegg is on all of this but he's not likely to suffer since his father is a multi-millionaire banker who is descended from Russian aristocracy.
And this leads me nicely onto my point and the reason why I'm so cynical on this:
If these guys now in charge of the country aren't going to feel the pinch (never have and probably never will), how on earth are they going to appreciate what it's like for the rest of us (bearing in mind that the PM's salary is just under £200,000pa)?
But it gets better:
Gordon Brown (the guy who made a mess of our economy) is now tipped to be the next head of the International Monetary Fund where he'll get to play with huge sums of money and bugger about with the finances of other countries.
Nothing personal Gordon, but I wouldn't trust you to manage a child's piggy bank!
So, tomorrow the UK population goes to the polls to try and decide who we'd like to have running the country for the next few years.
And it's a bit of a tough one this time round. Looks like we're going to have to choose from the best of a mediocre (at best) bunch.
The former outsider, Nick Clegg, has found himself in the running because of the televised debates. A great idea but sadly a reflection of our X-factor obsessed society that many people are considering voting Lib-Dem because of Nick's performance on the show without fully understanding what his party's policies really are. I do know about the Lib-Dem policies and this puts me off voting for them.
Gordon Brown has been characterised as the guy who brought us recession, even though he inherited a very favourable economic climate when he took office as Chancellor in 1997. He tried claiming that he managed the economy well, but even before the recession hit he was borrowing at record levels to fund the so-called 'investment' in public services. Sadly though, these billions in extra government debt haven't brought about a commensurate improvement in the way Government services are provided. However, this much is certain, we now have a million more people on the public payroll and higher unemployment than Margaret Thatcher ever had.
Highly unlikely that they'll get my vote because there isn't an economist on the planet that would see the sense in borrowing and spending your way out recession caused by debt - the numbers don't add up and never will.
And so to David Cameron. The Eton boy who wants to be to PM has done a reasonable job of keeping his party mostly free from the headline MP expenses scandal. But I still find him to be a little unconvincing at times. I like the guy but he hasn't assured me that his party will properly tackle the budget deficit without causing major disruption to economic growth. Unfortunately for him (and us) if he wins the election he'll have such a poisoned chalice left to him by Brown's mis-management that he's going to struggle to come up smelling of roses no matter what course of action he takes for reducing the deficit.
An interesting point made by a friend of mine is that a hung parliament might be good for us because it'll stop any party trying to do anything silly. It might even bring a period of stability which would allow the private-sector economy to do it's job and bring us towards recovery.
And then there's tactical voting to take into account: Peter Soulsby (Lab) is my current MP with a reasonable majority of 9%. He does a good job and is (for the most part) a very good MP.
His predecessor, Parmjit Gill Singh (Lib-Dem) is standing again but was absolutely useless as an MP last time round.
Ross Grant (Con) doesn't really stand much chance, unfortunately. He'd need a swing of about 20% in his direction to even come close and, even though there will be a big swing away from Labour, I can't see enough of it going his way.
So I'm stuck.
I like Peter Soulsby but don't want to give Gordon the Moron 5 more years to bugger up the country even further. I don't want Parmjit Gill Singh because he's useless. And the party I'd normally vote for could be a wasted vote.
Just watched Barack Obama's inauguration speech and I have to confess that I'm very inspired. I found it quite humbling to be able to watch history in the making.
I'm very glad to have heard him speak about the economic and also the environmental work to be done. It was great to hear him speak of the need to make some very difficult decisions to bring about change. But most of all it was just an inspiration to hear him speak of his father who sixty years ago would have struggled to buy a drink in this city (Washington).
I really would like him to succeed in his aim to change the USA and the way it does business, especially around the world. I sincerely hope he brings waste and corruption to account where possible.
However, above all, I hope he can bring a new era of honesty into US presidential politics.
OK, so now I'm done gushing about the new 44th president of the United States.
The thing is, we should never be afraid of change. Change is constantly with us. Heraclitus wrote in 500bc that "There is nothing permanent except change".
So let's all hope that change can actually come in the USA and around the world. And let us not be afraid of change when it does come.