“Hey, I just got an email from Caron Lyon. She’s co-hosting a political event. Election Daze.” The look in my partners eyes tells me her opinion before she opens her mouth. “You should go to that.” Politics is simultaneously both extremely important and totally insignificant in our household, for a variety of reasons, but for my sins, it has become something of a compulsion for me since starting a family. Every decision I make is rooted in our efforts to ensure that our children are given effective tools to navigate an increasingly complex and chaotic world, a world which gears them up from day one to be wheels in the consumer machine. Of course, you may take the structure of the last sentence to mean that I know the truth of how the world is… I’m being ironic. We will probably never know the truth of the wheels within wheels of the hidden power structures of this world. But we are all humans, subject to the human condition. We live our lives via the experience of our senses and derive a sense of meaning by engaging and reflecting on those experiences. My experience of life has led me to a place where I can definitely say, based on my experience alone, that things are certainly not as they initially appear. Politics, in all its forms, fits this category of experience for me perfectly. We live in a constitutional monarchy, yet we do not have a written, immutable constitution. We have free and fair elections, but utilise First Past the Post so that large swathes of the electorate never have a representative in parliament that reflects their values and beliefs. We have MPs in parliament to represent us and to work on our behalf, as long as they follow the whip. Don’t even get me started on the House of Lords. I saw a story last night that said that Jeremy Corbyn had been under surveillance for two decades by the intelligence services, due to concerns that he was undermining democracy. Whether this story is factually correct or not, I’m calling this out as “Fake News”. Why? Well, in order to undermine democracy, you would actually have to have a fully functioning democratic system to undermine in the first place. While we have a fully functioning system, I do not accept for one moment that it is democratic. Democracy = Demos + Kratos. Demos is a Greek term meaning “common people”. Kratos, also Greek, means “rule” or “strength”. Do the common people rule in this country? Is the government here to serve the people, or have we become servants of the government and, by extension, the supranational corporate interests that lobby them? I’m willing to bet that many people within the existing power structures of government still see Jeremy Corbyn as a threat in the above light. He IS undermining the five ring circus of walled power in the UK, which puts the long established order at risk, but that is by no means undermining democracy. By that measure, the four of us who met in a small hotel in Long Eaton to tease could be accused of the same charge, because, regardless of the particular flavour of our political leanings, our enquires and philosophies centre around a question: “What are we going to do about politics?” To engage and answer that question requires a couple of pre-suppositions: * That there is something that NEEDS to be done – implying that there is this concept that we all rely upon that isn’t quite fit for the purpose it is advertised as being for. * That WE can actually do something about it – we are the subjects and the objects of political governance, so surely, together, we can change things that aren’t working as well as they could. I do not have the answers. No one person does. But they can be searched out, teased forward and encouraged from the recesses of our minds and hearts. Election Daze? I’d say I’m pretty dazed at this point. In a previous life, I had a lot to do with NLP, Hypnosis and various types of talking therapy and communication models. Part of the gab and patter that goes with working in this capacity is to invoke and sustain a state of confusion in your subject. The reason for this? If you are confused, it means you are in a state of conflicting ideas, thoughts, emotions and beliefs, and this state, as it happens, is very useful for inducing and leading personal change. What are we going to do about politics? To begin to answer that question, as a community of people who aspire to some form of civic duty, will guarantee confusion. Welcome it with open arms and detach from the outcome. This is the daze of our lives. ### Please note, no democracies were harmed in the writing of this article. TPW
The rabbit hole of our everyday politics is really deep – no, really it is! In this mini report I want to focus on just one of the questions I raised, whether political debate in the U.K. Is too narrow to deal with the dynamics of the wider world. Trying to investigate the perception that political debate only ever seems to deal with the immediate, very generalised topics – brexit, economy, jobs, health, security – while managing to somehow completely avoid going into any real depth on any of them. Politics becomes bullit-pointed. Media reports/debates tend to focus like this because of time restraints, and parties want rallying points they can march to. But they easily descend into over-simplified points-scoring exercises, ambiguous statistical assertions, and pure rhetoric that limits the scope of the conversation (perhaps deliberately so). Debate tends to focus and compartmentalise, limiting our ability to see the inter-relationship of many or all of these issues. There’s a tendency to get caught up in the same old issues (which are often the correct issues) but without ever getting to the bottom of what we need to do to deal with them effectively. If you never question the relationship of banking reforms of the 80’s to the financial crash of 2008, and how that effected lending to businesses, can we really understand what we need to do to stabilise jobs in this country? How can we decide on who to get behind if we don’t even really know the problems they’re trying to address? Perhaps we could do with more of a free-roaming approach. Funnily enough as we were a small ‘Open Group’ our debate tended to roam like this – we found ourselves addressing one question as a result of talking about another, and so on. Dan Rose
We had a small group with big ideas!
Here’s the list of topics:
Voter turnout: how do we improve/raise it?
What is political power?
What if we get a hung parliament?
What became of the BNP?
Is political debate in the UK too narrow or simplistic to take in the dynamics of the wider world?
Organisational Politics; Politics and the workplace – office politics
Is voter apathy used as a strategic tool in political thinking?
Do we really have a democracy in the UK?
Is politics in the UK broken?
How biased is our political system to protecting the status of a (real) ruling power?
How do we better understand what ‘politics’ means and how it is experienced by the representative populace? (ie for reasons of transforming that meaning?)
When people say: “No Religion, no politics”
what are they hiding from?
what are they afraid of hearing?
how do we get beyond this barrier to discussion?
how do we stop being evasive of what others believe?
Is our politics too short termist?
Why is politics so short-term?
Do we need a new voting system?
Why isn’t politics talking about impact of future of information technology?
Did Brexit break tribal politics in UK?
The 1st topic I proposed was Should voting be made compulsory?
Points raised included
Would it affect the outcome? Making things compulsory goes against the grain Where it is compulsory but that the only requirement is to return the voting paper might be okay
It would be a big job to monitor so probably wouldn’t be followed through
Not voting…a generational issue?
2nd How can we encourage young people to be more involved in politics?
Points raised included
There is nothing in schools, needs to be on the education agenda
How do young people connect? Perhaps tap into the Gaming communities!
Its only in this century that everyone has the vote …. but turn out is incredibly low
Discussions need to appear relevant to their life/experience/aspirations
Stuff about devolved male (interesting but needs expanding on by someone who knows a bit about it!)
Events like today in 6th form colleges/universities would be a good idea
The second topic I proposed was “How do we spot/ avoid fake news”. Points raised included:
* we are all now aware of fake news online – bad satire repeated a fact, and facts misrepresented, ignored or denied
* the Greens do not get as much coverage as UKIP, despite gaining several council seats last week, whereas UKIP lost all but one of theirs – for example, Question Time
* the Daily Mail. ‘Nuff said.
* BBC coverage of Jeremy Corbyn Seems to portray him in a worse light (literally, in some cases) than Theresa May – I find this, and yet I’ve always held the BBC i high regard. Is it perception, or fact?
* others defended the BBC, pointing out the reporters are very well versed in what’s going on
* Linton Crosby is very effective at what he does
* we have very strong advertisings standards, but not for political ads
* that bus! (Though the remain campaign was weak)
The topic I proposed was “How do we kill the ‘voting doesn’t change anything’ mentality?”. Points raised included:
* there is a disconnect in some peoples minds between politics (what they see on the news) and their day-to-day lives – road repair, prices in shops, taxes and benefits, health care are not seen as “politics”
* we don’t teach the processes of how our country is run, in schools
* in safe seats, it really doesn’t change anything – maybe we need some form of proportional representation?
* not voting is perceived as a symptom the left – the right are better at mobilising their supporters. Why?
* non-voters are “claimed” by election winners as being part of their mandate
* no-one seemed to know of research about people who do not vote – who are they (demographically speaking), and what are their views on political issues? The research must exist – where is it? Sadly, and inevitably, in the ten minutes available, we didn’t actually come up with a solution for this perennial problem.