Monday, 2 July 2012

Too much communication?

Two dicta of modern politics that have always struck me as pertinent are: ‘the art of the possible’ and ‘ a week is a long time in politics’, ascribed respectively to R. A. B. Butler and Harold Wilson.  If a week was a long time in politics in the 1960s, today in the age of 24/7 media and social networking it is an eternity with the consequence that politics has become increasingly reactive in character.  This means that communication and spin  and the need to always respond has circumvented the development and implementation of considered political judgements.  We all know the dictum ‘decide in haste, repent at leisure’ and this has increasingly become the unintended mantra of many politicians.  The wrong word, the bad interview like Chloe Smith’s with a remarkable sarcastic and arrogant Paxman (even by his often lamentable standards) last week , the unintended, unscripted and unconsidered tantrum (yes I thought the microphone was off!) will all return to bite politicians in their collective backsides.  But the result of all this media attention, especially the reactions of the ‘Westminster village’, is that increasing politics is not the art of the possible but simply the art of getting through the day without media disasters.  Politicians end up speaking to other politicians and to the media forgetting that the public beyond the hallowed halls actually want them to take a lead and make decisions that will benefit society at large.  This navel-gazing, introverted approach within a framework that is ostensibly extrovert is very damaging to people’s perceptions of politics and politicians.

1 comment:

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