Sunday, November 09, 2008

Disappointing politicians

Chris is dead-on here about that (splendid) speech:

"Whilst capitalists use the language of necessity to justify their favoured policies, the left remains in a Nietzschean fantasy world in which agency is sufficient, believing it can succeed if only it can find a superman with a strong enough will. Hence the mania surrounding Barack Obama."
It reminds me of that little snide aside that I heard in some film (can't remember when): "All of the people who really know how to run the country are driving cabs" (or words to that effect).

The one thing I'd say is a near-certainty: Most of the writers that have been elaborately critical of Hazel Blears speech wouldn't survive five minutes in politics, with the position that they have taken against her. Politicians - as a whole - only really survive by picking sides in arguments that have run their course. You can't expect them to agree with you until you've seen off your opponents - surely that's a good thing?

There are, of course, numerous exceptions, but more than most exceptions-that-prove-the-rule, they really do prove the rule here. If the elegance of the maverick could be obtained easily and responsibly, then we'd have a cabinet full of them.

But we don't. And if these critics are cynical about the agents of change that they have to hand (politicians) I wonder how they imagine any positive change can come about otherwise? And are they so arrogant as to expect that politicians should adopt a course of action when they can't establish a popular demand for it themselves? If anything, has Chris has understated the demand for leaders among Hazel's critics?

Dunno about you, but I'd be more worried about change by any other means than I am by the status quo - no matter how unsatisfactory it is.

(PS: None of this praise for Hazel Blears should be read as support for the concept of empowering communities. Civic engagement? Certainly. The more, the better. And the more multilateral, the better as well. Civic empowerment? No thanks. We have elections for that - let's make local elections meaningful first by dealing with the causes of centralisation, eh?)

No comments: