Now that the dust has settled following the political shuffle waltz in Westminster yesterday it appears that the nations media also take the view that it was largely a waste of time. I haven’t seen any reaction from any of the government top table on this nonesense which suggests that they may have been ‘gagged’ and told not to comment. Democracy at work, eh !
This begs the thought that this blog has aired a few times previously - that of the perception of democracy rather than the actuality of it. We automatically say we live in a free democratic society if ever that question is posed to us - it’s a reflex response because on the whole we follow the principles of democracy, have the oldest parliamentary system in the world and espouse the virtues of freedom, justice and unanimity - not unlike the French revolutionaries who espoused ‘Liberte, Egalite et Fraternite’. Yet we also know, though seldom really admit it, that what we have as our societal framework is not really democracy rather it is something more akin to a tolerable autocracy. And we get that by virtue of our own electoral apathy - an acceptance whilst things are going well and a whingeing moan when events don’t go the way we expect accompanied by a very distinct Anglo-Saxon reluctance to change or challenge the system. We must be status quo accepting by instinct in this country as far as politics and governance is concerned.
Now this is not good for the nation’s political soul. That we accept much of the output from Westminster - good and bad - without so much as a sniff yet moan about it when it impacts upon us as individuals or groups says much of our governance and our people. It creates governance by ‘let’s see if we can get away with that’ strategies which in turn very much suggests that much of Westminster’s output is not really calculated for the national good rather it is calculated for a very small caucus of beneficiaries within the political bubble. It further suggests that government - of any colour and persuasion - has little idea of what to do and even when it does it lacks the capacity or skill to communicate the message effectively. The result is usually public derision - and we can cite Mrs May as an example of this inept and repetitive style of ‘leader’ who really has no ability to actually communicate at grass roots levels about what the government both plans to do and why it is necessary to do it. In like manner, we, the electorate jump up and down for a day or so and then blithely move on to the next topic to jump up and down about and consequently contribute nothing to the dialogue of governance in this country. The danger in this, of course, is that the vocal minority groups who broadly represent vested interests tend to become the loudest voices of appeal on government policy and, if any changes are deemed to be politically workable then those changes may well be invoked as the democratic will of the people.
In a nutshell, we get that which we are given - and that is not democracy...but it is up to the electorate to participate more if they really want change - and that doesn’t seem to be in our national psyche at all.
There’s interesting reporting today on both the issues of Trump’ism and female emancipation (or should that be elevation ?) from unequal pay through to being viewed as sexual objects in our societies. On Trump, we hear that the White House is resisting attempts by the Special Counsel, Richard Mueller, to question the president directly over what may or may not have happened in rigging the 2016 presidential election. Their resistance conjures up a public view that there must be something to hide and Trump’s general demeanour of combativeness, aggression and insult adds to the widening feeling that there is definitely something being hidden from scrutiny. Unfortunately, the world sees this pantomime like story in very negative ways, fuelled even more by the extraordinary stories of Trump’s typical White House day. This reminds me of a very old adage - authored by whom I cannot recall - of government being a malleable and selfish thing, self contained and put there by people who have been given the vote but who have little or no understanding of what they are voting for. The perfect antidote to democracy, you might say.
On the female equality and respect storm raging around the world the pundits are a little scathing of the Hollywood personalities who wore black to denote their solidarity over male predators in their industry and, indeed throughout all industries. It’s a little sad that we see these personalities as some virtuous band of avengers standing up for oppressed women everywhere when in truth they are not - as some of their personal stories would show us the opposite if ever they were to be told. If women need role models, don’t pick the Hollywood variety. The cause is just but pick the right icons. On equality of pay, the arguments ping back and forth. I’m for equality of genders but in the establishments of many countries there will be a vigorous resistance to relenting to thousands of years of precedent giving males the pre-eminent consideration - that is how history, for good or bad, has defined the differences between male and female. But it’s now the 21st Century and we should be able to get over such entrenched views - but will we ?