Tuesday, 22 April 2008

The new government and the new opposition

We are in an exciting time of adjustment. The old parties are slowly dying, and as the nation hovers on the edge of economic stasis none of them will dare raise the issue of State funding to keep them alive. The May 1st elections could well cement the political polarisation of the nation into north and south, with the rump of the Labour party alive in the north and the Tories the default party in the south. But something else quite exciting has been happening, and the clues are hidden in, amongst other places, a Yougov poll for Channel 4 at the end of last year.

Peter Oborne's brilliant analysis of the rise of the political class is a book that should be on every shelf. It reflects the public cynicism for politicians of every hue as self-serving and unrepresentative. As far as government is concerned in the eyes of the public, the parties are interchangeable; central Statists, career politicians.

In answer to the question "The people in charge know best" 62% disagreed and only 8% agreed.

And in answer to the question "How important is it that the media challenges what government does and tells us?" 84% answered important and only 4% answered not important.

And therein lies a new orthodoxy. The political class as a whole are the new government, and the media is the new opposition. Of course no one elects the old media, the MSM, and one could argue this is a fundamentally undemocratic settlement. Except that more and more people now participate in on-line communities, largely communities of interest such as fishing or gardening, where normative small-p political views and values are shaped and honed as the by-product of interaction.

Slow evolution has always been the best way in a stable democracy such as ours, rather than sudden reformation. As the Central State and the Central Parties slowly consume themselves, the conditions are developing where systems of direct democracy that evolve from the bottom rather than are designed from the top down are becoming increasingly feasible.

And if May 1st furthers a fracturing of national politics on geographical lines, all the better. The politics of people and place, rather than the politics of ideas, is the future.

1 comment:

Guthrum said...

Reading this at present- spitting bullets along the way !