Friday, April 25, 2008


Watching BBC TV's Question Time special on the London Mayoral election last night was a depressing experience (See my new LibCon column, Paddick stations? - which the Guardian kindly picked out in its 'best of the blogs' section). For a start, the Beeb decided that we didn't need to see the Green candidate, Sian Berry, who stands for a different set of values, and whose second preferences may well decide the final outcome. Then the whole thing was an adversarial charade: much sound and fury signifying little. This is modern media-driven politics. If I had a vote it would probably be Berry one and Ken Livingstone two. Boris Johnson is beyond a joke. [Fab YouTube clip alert]

Lest anyone think I am being unduly hard on the Lib Dems, I have an interview with their leader, Nick Clegg, in the May edition of the revamped Third Way magazine ("Christian comment on culture"), in which I think he comes out rather favourably. The TW 'high profile' slot aims to probe behind the public persona of a well-known figure and look at more personal influences, underlying convictions and so on. Inter alia, Clegg makes it clear that, contrary to press speculation, he's more of an agnostic than an outright atheist, and has respect for religious conviction oriented towards fairness and freedom. It's not available online, I'm afraid. But excerpts and out-takes will appear in due course, when I have cleared my permissions.

Talking of electoral politics. I used to be Labour at heart, but these days my vote floats between whichever candidate I think might inject a degree of principle and freshness into things, based on some practical notion of social justice and sustainability. Not voting has a place, too. The degeneration of the whole political system needs challenging in as many ways as possible - through alliances, associational and independent politics, participatory (rather than purely 'representational') forms of democracy, principled abstention, pressure from without, dialogue across the boundaries, and the strengthening of civil society... plus churches injecting a bit of redemption by acting as contrast societies, not conformist lumps or self-interest groups, please.

The electoral arena cannot be ignored, but it is not one in which I find deep convictions convincingly represented any more.

1 comment:

Jane said...

I really understand your depression about politics. I'm still labour at heart but getting rather unstuck around the edges.
I worry that as global capitalism takes us on the sub prime roller coaster everyone is so obsessed with money that noone can see what is happening to our underlying sub-prime political culture.
I'm passionately political but I sort of feel with politics it's a little bit like faith - people think you're crazy to believe in doing something together with others.
No doubt there are great post modern ways forwards - I just haven't seen them bringing lots of results recently.
having faith means also having faith in politics not necessarily wanting to bring faith into politics - though if it works in Paraguay...
Let's just hope it doesn't go the same way as Haiti and Aristide...
Probably what I'm feeling is all about getting old and wondering what the hell I will have achieved with my life - will I be able to contribute to anything worthwhile and marginally lasting - other than someone's funeral service!
MY fear about putting faith in individuals is that I'm actually still interested in ideas, in political philosophy etc - do we have to throw that away as well to embrace post-modernism - everythign is relative, people are nice
vote for Nicholas Sarkozy and Boris Johnson because they do best on I'm a celebrity get me out of parliament????

Sorry to rant in your comments section