The issue of representation has been filling my head recently, which follows on from the furore about QT.
And so it comes up again with the dear Jennie asking why certain bloggers are ignored by the blogging establishment.
As a general topic it's one I get into on a regular basis. The discussion always centres around what the definition of 'politics' is.
Some people think politics = political parties.
Others think everything is political.
The first seems to come from a mindest that people involved with political parties are unable to be objective, while the second comes from a mindset that nobody is completely objective (even when they try).
I get round the accusation of bias by taking the 'BBC defence' and seeking out a balanced view, but this then creates a difficulty in giving appropriate and proportionate weight to the different sides.
So, what can be done to give a more representative account and convince critics that no group or individual is being discriminated against and treated unfairly?
Ultimately I think there is some overlap between those who think white working-class men are being treated unfairly and those who think BME groups and women are being treated unfairly: the establishment is failing to placate these critics and convince them by communicating the full extent of the issues at stake, and this shows the action being taken by the establishment is not sufficient.
Without getting into the question of immigration and how desirable it is (people who know me personally don't need to ask - I have some strong views), the establishment has failed to clarify that these issues are a choice we each need to make - we need to separate the narrow issue of what is good for 'me' and the broader subject of what is good for 'us', and if they do not correspond then we need to understand why not.
It has been a consistent trend of Gordon Brown's path to power that he has crushed, negated and otherwise sidelined opposition wherever he has seen it, but this has had the consequence that the public has not debated questions of importance as assumptions were made and conclusions jumped to, bypassing and failing to account for any uncomfortable facts.
Where Thatcher and Blair stimulated demonstrations of opposition, Britain under Brown has simply gone ahead without wider participation in the discussion of the ways and means worth adopting. Where Thatcher and Blair were capable of debate (however inaccurately), Brown asserts.
Britain under Brown is increasingly in the iron grip of a new establishment - despite their noises about inclusivity, participation at elections is not rising and general membership of political parties has fallen. The seemingly inevitable passage of David Cameron into Downing Street is not being met with any general acclaim and the growing climate of cynicism about politics is enthusing a sense of separation from participation in the processes of democracy among the public: politics is now a lifestyle choice, not a reflection of those choices we make in our lives.
It seems obvious to me that the two-party hegemony suffocates a real sense of representation, and the more it seems likely that this will continue then frustrations from different sections of society will increasingly crop up.
It does not matter what Labour or Conservatives do about our borders, or if their initiatives bring about a massive increase in women or black or Asian MPs, because it is only a temporary repreive - they will still represent the same way of doing things which has consistently shown itself to break down as the innate incoherence of their binary philosophy crumbles.
Inclusivity cannot mean substituting one preferred view for another more preferable view, as that just perpetuates a sense of prejudice and disenfranchisement, rather it must mean growing the overall level of participation: an open democracy cannot stand still, it must constantly constantly strive to break down the barriers which so easily grow between us.
If politics is for anything, then it must be the art of pluralism - if only because the word itself means 'relating to the people' or 'public affairs', not because politicians are commonly compared to a bunch of blood-sucking parasites.
Wednesday, 28 October 2009
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