Sound and Fury

Signifying nothing

Practical politics consists in ignoring facts

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The title is a quote from Henry Adams.

I despair for modern politics when David Cameron tries to ally himself with “the common man” while at the same time engaging in petty point-scoring about Titian’s age. Thanks Dave. Really constructive politics we’re doing here. And it is faintly worrying in a 1984 kind of sense when someone then tries to edit wikipedia to make almighty Dave look better. And worrying in a kind of Mr. Bean sense when they get it wrong. And worrying in a more serious sense that time was wasted on this exchange when the country is in dire financial straits. Not to mention issues of climate change that only grow more urgent.

That’s not to say I would never vote Conservative (although instinctively I’m probably closer to something like what Labour used to stand for.) I’d never vote for the current Labour government either. I’ve nothing against Mr. Brown. I think he’s serious and possibly even boring, but experienced and probably fairly good at politicky stuff. And I’m in no position to make any stronger judgements of his ability etc. What I object to is Jacqui Smith. (a) she spells her name in a really stupid way. (b) her voice grates on me whenever I hear her interviewed. She looks permanently put-upon and harrassed and sounds it too. (c) she seems to be forging ahead with all sorts of surveillance type policies despite widespread disapproval. This point is particularly galling for me because in theory I would be open to some sort of national ID card scheme if it could be made useful and worthwhile. The current (unpopular) scheme is hamstrung not only by the anti-ID card lobby, but also by worries over security of the data and the cost involved. And the fact that the card as it is wouldn’t be useful. My suggestion is make the card such that people will find it a convenience to have it, rather than force them to carry it. (d) she has twice ignored the advice of groups set up to explore the reclassification of drugs. Why this is annoying is because it speaks of a basic disregard for the scientific facts which, I feel, should be at the basis of policy decisions. The argument given for ignoring the advice is that it “would send the wrong message”. But if the decision was effectively made before the advice was given, why spend money on having these people produce the advice in the first place? Commissioning a report seems to carry with it an implicit duty to pay attention to the recommendations put forward and to make any decision at least partly on the basis of the report.

None of these are particularly well thought out arguments, nor are they based on any careful collating of all the relevant information. But that’s exactly the problem. I would in general be predisposed to go out and vote, but the impression I get of the current crop of candidates is fairly negative. Politicians should be trying to convince me they deserve to be in power. And I am going to be convinced only by a cogent set of principled policies. And I am not going to go out and read party political manifestoes. It is the duty of the politicians to get their message across to me. My impression is that manifesto promises are often reneged. And politics seems to be all about criticising the other guy. (That could be because in terms of ideology or policies, there is no real difference between the two main parties any more.)

This is all a bit of rant really. I’ve probably done nothing more than show how ill informed I am. Never mind, eh?

Prize for the best title for a conference ever: Tickle your catastrophe.

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Written by Seamus

February 13, 2009 at 3:31 pm

Posted in annoying

Tagged with , ,

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