It’s sometimes quite difficult to really get a handle on what Britain’s true objectives and values are. This can probably be said of both political and social matters that we are increasingly exposed to - voluntarily or otherwise - which shape and form our opinions, and therefore our national persona as outsiders would see it.
For now, I’ll just bleat on about the political dimension in this.
Brexit obviously looms large in our lives at present and it is an important element in what our country might look like in the years ahead. So, the pundits thrash the arguments and the speculations out, back and forth with lots of ‘ifs’, ‘buts’, ‘maybe’s’, ‘possibly’s’, and we all avidly pick a position from all this ‘information’ thrown at us. In truth, we probably know near as dammit zero when it comes to fully understanding what the Brexit political process is grinding on about. Mrs May is extremely fond of using the phrase, ‘I have been very clear...’ or similar. The reality of those phrases really tells us that she also has absolutely no idea what is going on. Her language to the EU is couched in so much confused, ambiguous political babble that they probably find it as difficult as we do to actually grasp what is being really said. I’m not having a particular bash at Mrs May. The EU are equally proficient at foggy definitions and unclear language. And I’d probably level the same critique at most of our politicians of whatever political outlook; when you hear them attempt to answer a direct question and observe them dancing around, squirming with almost pious affrontery that anyone could ask such a thing, using obscure language and never actually committing themselves to an answer that anyone can understand all seems normal in politics-land. So frequently does this happen that we might say that politician baiting must surely rank as our best armchair national sport these days. Unfortunately, enjoyable as such baiting might be, there is a serious side to the general and widespread inability to communicate clearly.
Politicians might possibly argue that the general public wouldn’t understand the complexities of government. Possibly true, but that is no reason why straight talking, open and transparent answers cannot be given. Westminster and all its world counterparts seem to hide behind this cloak of obscurity, offering little tid-bits of information to satisfy our constant curiosity. A fellow called Joseph de Maistre - a Frenchman, no less - coined the phrase, ‘We all get the government we deserve’ (acknowledgements to Wikiquote for this). And if there was ever a true saying, this is it. We let our governments conduct themselves in this way to the point where they think it’s perfectly normal and acceptable to speak to the electorate with roundabout, double-meaning and retractable statements. We don’t seriously challenge government, we don’t seriously challenge the statements they make (with the odd, notable exception), our pundits may try but never really push it beyond good television theatre and we, the Joe/Jo Public’s of this land, complacently sit back and lap it all up - just like a compelling drama that NetFlix or HBO might broadcast. So, we really do get the government we deserve. We, the public are as much to blame in this crime of obscurity and poor communication, unclear language and complacency. But poor governance isn’t something we should accept, it will be our downfall if left unchecked (and history should have taught us that lesson long ago). Yet challenging government beyond a bit of street protesting and occasional television critiques isn’t enough. Westminster is deeply flawed and needs change, and that requires us to push for it as much as anyone. Our political appearance on the world stage must surely look little better than a beggar on the streets....
And this, maybe, is how the outside world sees us. The question is, can we change ?