Friday, 14 August 2015

The end of 'Politics as a profession'?

It's really only in a minicab that I occasionally catch ten minutes of Iain Dale on the radio these days; too little, for I genuinely enjoy listening to him and radio is a natural medium for Iain. Alas, unless he moves to Radio 4 (taking over Jim Naughtie's spot on 'Today'?) I must make a special effort to tune the computer to LBC for particular shows or debates. I write this by way of preface as I am out of touch with Iain's views on certain subjects these days, and indeed his views may have shifted, just as mine have done, on various topics in the years since his diamond blog ruled the political interweb. However, back in the day, one of my most fundamental points of disagreement with Iain was over his support of politics as a profession, for career politicians, with a career structure, professional standards, education and training just as for barratry or medicine or pest control. 

The idea of career politicians has always been anathema to me; though not quite as far as the Chartists, who would have limited individuals to a single year in Parliament with no return visits. Parliament, I've always held, is somewhere a person should end up after having achieved something elsewhere in life, not instead of. And MPs should be rooted in their constituencies, not blow-ins such as the truly revolting Luciana Berger. And they should all be able to claim, as Sir Patrick Cormack did, that it was 'Country, constituency, party. In that order.'

Of course a month ago Andrew Burnham declared on live TV that 'The party always comes first' (to be corrected by a quick thinking Elizabeth Kendall 'Er, the country always comes first'). Here I think Burnham was being honest and Kendall the disingenuous SpAd. Isabel Hardman has a good piece in the Speccie  as to why this sort of political professionalism is a real turn-off for the public; we simply don't want 'professional politicians' and we prefer ordinary folk with feet of clay and just a single kitchen. 

It's not just in the UK that we're fed up with professional politicians; just look at the rise of the amateur insurgent parties across Europe - Podema, Syriza and all the rest - and of course this is a major attraction of Farage. We are seeing, to their shock and surprise, the professional political class being turfed out of office from Scotland to Slovenia. Corbyn is perhaps the most cathartic manifestation of that trend in the UK; his support is not support for his daft Socialist Worker nonsense manifesto but because he is not Yvette Cooper or Andrew Burnham or Elizabeth Kendall. 

The Indie's daily cartoon is well worth reproducing. But who's surprised? After the previous whitewashes, the British public were promised an enquiry under a Chairman who would represent the British people. John Chilcot is not that man. The delay - wholly avoidable - means that whatever he now produces is tainted by our perception of him as representing not the public but the Establishment. 

Have a good weekend all.


Stephen said...

What's funny is that 'professional' - generally denoting someone who has been trained to fulfil a specialised role in a mental rather than physical vocation - is used in a positive sense in all other contexts other than political. Oborne's The Triumph of the Political Class takes a penetrating look at the rise of politics as a profession and spells out why it is harmful to democracy and is recommended to all who haven't read it. As you rightly point out, one the reasons that alternative parties are appearing across Europe and receiving popular support is because of voter apathy towards the old parties; which are comprised of career politicians who are often out-of-touch with their constituents and only concerned with maintaining the status quo.

Bill Quango MP said...

I listen to Dale most days. The youngsters prefer Sky News, but I need just background noise to work. Not pictures.
Dale is still the soft Tory he always was. A very good interviewer.Sharp. And aware of the contradictions in his callers views.

Its funny that he often reads out some texts, after he has called some piece of government idiocy 'a ridiculous proposal.'
The texts say

"Iain Dale and his socialist-Trotsky-mates should all be turfed out of the land."

And then the next one

"The uncaring Dale would leave the bedroom tax payers to rot..he is a Tory place man and should be removed from the air.."

In truth though, he is a fair and balanced broadcaster. A wet Tory , to be sure. But an intelligent one. And he needs a heart. Human Interest stories are part of his show.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

"We are seeing...the professional political class being turfed out of office from Scotland to Slovenia... "

Just a quibble there, Radders.

The SNP is the professional political class. They've been in government for years. The fact that they choose to ignore that in favour of endless anti-English rabble-rousing doesn't actually mean it's not true.

Budgie said...

The main problem with professional politicians is that they have no experience of how difficult it is to achieve a practical goal. Consequently they give us nostrums which upon implementation give the characteristic unintended consequences we are so familiar with. That applies to Blair and the SNP both.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I think Dale is a pretty astute observer with a keen eye and I always get the impression that, he'd like to be a bit more 'beefy' [small c con] but his peers and mates, the sphere he moves in and the fear of uncertainty, of allowing his inner savage, a being free rein, so precludes it.

As you say R, the political class have killed, dressed, stuffed and shat out the UK this nation.

I also think that, we need to look and destroy the incubator.

Eton and the two main centres of learning, in Cambridge and more particularly Oxford - where the production line of managerialism and those morons [Pomposity, Prattling and Egomania PPE] are fashioned.

From Camoron to Ed Davey, - cripes give me Jezza any day of the week even though his political ideology is inimical to my beliefs.

Mind you, I've previously observed, Ed Balls did and often, he brought me out in spots [and I think he was a PPE] but at least...... Balls had a personality and I reckon would be good conversation, I never get that impression with 99.9% of the rest of them.

Chilcot, a sad case and has been removed of his knackers, that's why he was chosen. Chilcot was the eunuch, it was the quid pro quo between MacMental and Beelzebub aka ah Toe-Nee. MacMental was determined to have an inquiry and Bliar determined the outcome or, if you like the lack thereof, with lesser demons in the wings, Campbell, Handlescrote, Straw [whose beating the retreat] and the Hydra, darling Cherie.

G. Tingey said...

What is needed is someone who is prepared to be jailed & hung out to dry by the establishment to leak the contents.
We all know why it's been "delayed" because we can't possibly have an British ex-PM in the dock in the Hague, can we, chaps?

Wildgoose said...

For once Greg, I suspect EVERYBODY agrees with your comment.

And if it was up to me, it wouldn't just be Blair. Let's face it, there's a reason why one of their first acts in power was to remove the death penalty for Treason....

James Higham said...

This is the whole issue - the professional pollie and dissembler. Hence Corbyn. Great choice.