The consequence of a retreat from politics?

Dennis Skinner - thought to be sceptical about consensus politics. (Pic: Riana Dzasta)

Dennis Skinner - thought to be sceptical about consensus politics. (Pic: Riana Dzasta)

It’s an interesting twist to the question I’ve been asking, on and off, over the past few weeks: What kind of representatives do we want?

So far, the options have included jurors, rogues and public paragons of virtue. But over on Spiked Online, Brendan O’Neill suggests a somewhat alarming possibility: Maybe we need people who are locked in a partisan struggle – people who will die in a ditch to defend the interests of a social class or ideological clique. Maybe we need (shock … horror) politicians to represent us?

In short, he suggests that the whole expenses scandal is the product of a regrettable retreat from politics – a move to make Parliament meet the petty demands of it’s rivals, and a refusal to prioritise and accommodate political conflict:

“New Labour has discovered that transparency begets, not trust, but further suspicion – the more politicians make their personal purity into their major selling point, and the more they imply that parliament is a potentially corrupt and sleazy place, the more they invite scrutiny of their every foible and Kit Kat purchase.” Continue reading

Why the hyperactivity?

One of the great divides between the people who comment on politics, and the people who do it for a living goes something like this:

Commentariat: Why do politicians feel the need to be constantly making announcements and being seen to do stuff – even to the point of preferring to do something pointless – or even damaging – to doing nothing at all?

And, in contrast…

Politicians: People who don’t realise why we have to constantly be seen to be doing things wouldn’t survive five minutes as a politician.

Here’s a comment on The Rose Review (via Matthew Taylor’s blog)