Saturday, March 31, 2007

Men of Power

I wouldn't say I'm a particularly political person. I don't really ally myself with any political party, and have never really assessed my own political views further than that of a gentle leaning to the left. I do however feel that I should try and engage with politics more, and indeed feel that everyone should try and vote, simply as a vote for democracy if nothing else. But whilst watching the budget the other day, I was left rather confused. It wasn't that the politicians were lying - that would be simple enough, they appeared to be using facts to confront each other, but with such a strong conviction of their opponent being wrong, that it undermines the credibility of the facts. More than that, they would seem to take opposing views on any given statement.
"Look at this" one would say "isn't it a lot better than it used to be?!"
"No," the other one would cry, "It's much, much worse"

I'd hoped the media would help to explain all of this, but once again - no such luck. Newspapers emphatically condone or contest the new budget, taking completely opposing views on the same points. So I considered that this could be because the budget is such a big and complicated thing, that there would undoubtedly be some people who benefited and some who lost out, but the political parties direct their comments to the everyman - making it seem like everyone's winning or loosing under these proposals.

I recently received some propaganda through the post in preparation for the upcoming local elections, and it was the same again - so much manipulative rhetoric that you could barely find the points underneath it. And so I considered looking up policies, but we all know they can be changed and ignored. So I am left feeling confused and disfranchised.

A lot of this seems quite obvious, and I suppose I did know it all before, but I just feel that recently I've seen it more clearly, and understood the situation a little better, and it's quite disheartening really.

I knew that David Cameron was never going to applaud anything Gordon Brown had to say. But I'd never followed that to the logical conclusion that as they both had their positions pre-decided; it rendered the facts quite irrelevant to either of their arguments. I also know that there will be amendments, and opposing parties will at times come to agree, but only if they are sure it will not be at the expense of their public image.

In some ways I feel that essentially this is what modern democracy is, and given the alternatives, I'm cannot help but remain thankful to live here. But seeing anew how hollow and superficial politics can be has left me wondering what the point is. It makes me think of something I first discovered when reading 1984, but had never been able to apply to a real life situation- that of a war going on, and no one remembers why it's being fought, but you just know it is, and there's no possibility of stopping, and so you just have to pick a side, commit, and hope for the best.


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