It may be a strange thing to say, in my first piece of work for Great British Politics, but I think our (British) government is stagnant, defunct even. By this I don’t mean the current government, or any previous government, or a government of any particular political persuasion. Rather, I believe the SYSTEM of government we find our nation run by is broken. For the great majority of people government is irrelevant- they try to lead their lives as best they can in spite of the government’s efforts, not because of them.
Let me first make clear, I believe politics has never been more vibrant, reactive and important (as hopefully evidenced by this very website), and democracy is the greatest freedom a modern nation can enjoy. However, both politics and democracy are being failed by our government. At its heart politics and democracy is the freedom to choose- to choose who will lead you, based upon a trust to deliver on promises made. What choice do we have? A race for the ‘middle-ground’ has made all the major parties the same, with no distinguishing left from right. And what trust? Pledges made in the hunt for power are soon abandoned, or changed beyond all recognition, once power is achieved.
Politicians get into government on the basis of what they intend to do with their power, but the sole purpose of government now seems to be retaining power, not using it. Lord Acton famously wrote “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”, but with regards to our government I would say power cripples, immobilises.
2 issues are critical here. Firstly, a government doesn’t want to do anything too radical, or even not-so radical, that might alienate voters. A government seeks to maintain the status quo, from the moment it is elected it thinks only of re-election. And secondly, so many modern politicians are ‘professional’ politicians with little real-world experience or knowledge of the critical areas they must direct- work, defence, the NHS, economics and so much more. They look to experts and launch enquiries to appease the public, yet almost inevitably fail to heed any resulting advice or direction at the risk of committing ‘political suicide’.
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