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The pacification of British politics

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The pacification of British politics

Post by James Gibson on Thu Aug 22, 2013 12:06 pm

There’s no doubt that people today are less politically active than they used to be. Just one percent of the population can say that they’re a member of a political party, compared to the 3.8% in 1983 and even higher numbers in the pre-war period. This is a phenomenon that can be observed right across the board – Labour, Tory or Liberal. But the real question is, why have the UK’s political parties seen such huge drops in their party membership numbers? Firstly, I think that the answer to this question can be explained by looking at public attitudes towards the ‘establishment’ since the 1950s. As without a doubt, public attitudes towards politicians have changed dramatically over the course of the last century.

If I were to go onto the streets and ask people what they thought about politicians, I’m almost certain that I would get responses on the lines of ‘incompetent, sleazy and ignorant’. Shows such as the BBC’s Have I Got News for You are constantly battering the government with claims of stupidity and idiocy. Of course, with a failing economy and seemingly boring cabinet, it’s an entirely logical conclusion to draw upon. While it might logical, it’s far from correct. The public attitude has developed a huge disconnect with the political body and a result we’re beginning to become less involved politics and less willing to stand against a new generation of career politicians from exclusive backgrounds.

This raises another interesting question. Are living standards falling because the government is too stupid and incompetent? Or are living standards falling because the government is making them lower? The former conclusion suggests that politics is a disease and that failure is inherent to this new generation of supposed idiot politicians. Furthermore, we begin to think along the lines of - well it isn’t their fault if they’re stupid! However, we need to remember that politicians are far from stupid. The falling living standards are a result of a systematic and intentional attack on public budgets in one of the most aggressive austerity programs in British history. This isn’t a cabinet of politicians monkeying around and failing to add up numbers.

The motivation to get involved in politics and fight austerity simply isn’t there when the public are presented with an image that sees politics as a useless, boring and even idiotic affair. As a result of this, Etonian MPs and Ministers are given huge freedoms to attack the livelihoods of ordinary people with little opposition. However this freedom and flexibility will only take them so far, as more and more people are beginning to realize the widespread effects austerity measures are having on communities. Activism is on the rise and, despite newspaper headlines, people are fighting back and we can hope that working class movements will be able to seize back the power taken from them by privately-educated career politicians.

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This article has been cross-posted from the Critical Proletariat. [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
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James Gibson

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