Friday, October 27, 2006

Hague Effect – redux

The Sun's Trevor Kavanagh: Wise. Statesmanlike. Onanistic. We get the kind of politicians that HE deserves.

Chris Dillow is questioning the common assertion that ‘we get the politicians we deserve.’ He raises some good questions:

Do politicians take newspapers too seriously? And do politicians under-estimate the voters?

And he draws consolation from the fact that a large number of voters are, effectively, ticking the ‘none of the above’ box in disgust with the whole shooting match.

I touched on this here last week. And, in standing by those conclusions, I’d answer Chris as follows:

  1. Taking newspapers too seriously? Yes. Politicians do take newspapers too seriously, but only when the newspapers are campaigning on policy issues. All the evidence would suggest that the public vote for people, not specific policies. So politicians can ignore a tabloid campaign as long as they don’t make a tit of themselves in the process. Annoyingly, the main strategy newspapers employ is – instead of making their case - is that they often seek to lampoon opponents to their case. In short, the problem is not the politicians. It’s the newspapers.
  2. Under-estimating the voters? Chris has, to my eye, a fairly idealistic take on ‘the wisdom of crowds’. But rather than get into that argument here, surely the public wish to vote for people who have better judgement than themselves? Another reason for politicians to avoid populist grandstanding, if only they could without the shit-sheets targeting them for abuse.
Newspapers, on the other hand, DO underestimate the voters. They aim to sell newspapers, not impress the public with their wisdom. A substantial slice of the middle class think that a substantial slice of the working class admire The Sun and The Star. I've never heard them being discussed as anything more than a comic. This explains, or is explained by the evident misanthropy that infects every corner of public life.

Tragically, large slices of the middle classes do admire The Guardian and The Independent; And they are little more than comics either.

Political structures are shaped by power-relations, and we are stuck with a rising spiral of centralisation and sub-optimal policy outcomes partly because of the way that journalist make politicians perform.

It can’t be too much of a surprise when some of the weaker-minded voters become confused and decide to declare that they are ‘disillusioned’. Others just abstain because they can’t get their lazy arses in gear to register and turn up at the polling station. To both of these groups I offer this message of sympathy, empathy and goodwill:

Pull yourselves together and grow up you lazy
solipsistic little turds. If you
can’t be bothered to vote, or stand for
election yourself, then don’t waste
anyone’s time by bitching about how dreadful your poxy little lives are.

Hang on a minute. Let me check. Is that a Haiku....?

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