He raises the question of how representative democracy is suited to long-term problems.
I'd suggest there is a clue in his notion of ‘the Hague Effect’ – the phenomenon whereby a popular policy is not necessarily an electoral asset. If I understand Shuggy correctly, it arises when politicians and the chattering classes believe that high profile and controversial policy matters decide elections when really, people are much more persuaded by a party's position on a wider range of non-headline grabbing issues.
In reality, this argument seems to suggest that they vote for the broad range of policies that seem less likely to bugger the country up.
This assessment is very superficially attractive, and almost one that I’d agree with. But not quite. We shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that the public are voting for a sensible batch of policies at all. They are, I believe, nearly always voting for sensible-looking people (or more likely, the least stupid-looking). The policy debate only serves to show people what the politicians are like in action. A sort of pre-nuptial peacock display. The policies are instrumental rather than central.
Hague will go down in history as a poor leader because most people saw him as a bit of a twit. The way his party debated policies may have given him little choice but to act like a twit, though I think we can all conclude that he brought his own special quality of twittiness to his role as leader of The-he Conse-eh-veh-teve Pa-harteh.
If you need this argument testing, ask yourself this: Did Hague give the impression of being a sensible man saddled with silly policies? Or was it the other way around? I suspect that most people thought of him as a silly man with policies that were irrelevant because of the silliness of the bearer.
Ask them to read the many signals that senior politicians give out, on the other hand, and they will be a lot more at ease with this. People with few firm opinions on policy issues will speak with conviction about particular politicians. They will, I suspect, pick the ones that look the least dodgy. It is something that we all can do. It's a democratic skill that we all have. We don't need to be specialists to know how to vote in elections - and this is a good thing.