Tuesday, 1 January 2013

In a bubble

Why do so many people hate politicians? Why do they have scarcely a good word to say about them? One MP has actually taken the trouble to ask people why they feel so venomous.

Gloria de Piero asked hundreds of people to be brutally frank about their aversion to politicians, and they didn't mince their words.

They mentioned all the MPs who were found to be fiddling their expenses; the unruly disputes in the House of Commons; the frequent attacks on welfare claimants and "shirkers"; their elitism; their jargon; their lies; their self-interest; their privileged backgrounds.

Above all, they were seen as living in a bubble, detached from the real world and unable to understand ordinary people who were struggling to stay afloat in desperate economic circumstances.

Tanya, 34, told the MP "They've gone to different schools that you've not gone to, and they don't struggle with childcare."

Two warehouse workers said politicians didn't have to survive on the minimum wage or benefits while shop prices were rising.

If only more politicians would ask voters the sort of direct questions Gloria de Piero is asking, they might actually find out why so many of them are held in contempt and they might stop claiming to be baffled at such lack of appreciation.

They might even step out of their Westminster bubble and make a serious attempt to understand all those under-privileged folk who didn't go to Eton, aren't millionaires, haven't inherited fortunes, aren't members of BUPA, don't have chauffeurs and don't live in mansions. And they might even do a bit more to help them.

Pic: Labour MP Gloria de Piero

24 comments:

Grannymar said...

Maybe it is time that politicians had a 'training season' that includes living on the basic pay and no fringe benefits for the first year to learn how the other side struggles.

After all, a pilot, a nurse, a teacher, or a police officer all go through years of training before graduating and being allowed to take controls and make decisions. What do you think?

Nick said...

Grannymar: Yes, I agree politicians should have some sort of training that includes an insight into how ordinary people live. Otherwise they make the most absurd assumptions about living conditions they are blissfully ignorant of.

John Gray said...

I don't hate politicians , I just detest their behaviour

Kristofor Ballance said...

I have always been a very strong believer that politics should be a calling and not a career.

We have teenagers now that plan to be a politician and are never removed from the political bubble.. and this is the type of people that want to rule (not govern) us.

If politicians want my respect they have to show that they have survived the real world for a number of years and while holding down a shitty job, raising a family and worked in their community (in other words not for political parties) to help the disadvantaged. Virtually impossible to find now.

Secret Agent Woman said...

The sermon at the UU church this Sunday was by a city council women who spent years traveling around the country involved in various causes and working at various jobs, because she believed strongly that there are changes we need as a society. He work on the city council is informed by those values and she is very much just one of the people. I have another friend who ran (and lost) fror state representative who wants to see changes. He's a carpenter and has a couple of kids and has lived a very modest life. But these folks are the exception. I'm not convinced just asking people to tell you why they hate you is the answer. IS that going to make the vast majority of politicians willing to set aside their personal financial ambitions and work for the people? Hell, no.

Nick said...

John: Can you separate the behaviour from the politician?

Kris: Indeed, there are too many politicians whose only experience is of think-tanks, pressure groups, lobbying, and working for other politicians.

Agent: As you say, such down-to-earth people are very much the exception. And yes, some politicians will still be immune to any amount of criticism - and then wonder why they get voted out.

Wisewebwoman said...

I'm with GM on this one, Nick. That's the only training ground.
XO
WWW

Nick said...

www: Yep, take trainee politicians round the local sink estates and volatile 'hoods and open their eyes a bit!

Bijoux said...

I don't think anyone becomes a politician to make money. There are many, many more lucrative professions. On the federal level, most already came from money, or they wouldn't have had the funds to advertise and get elected. The real problem, in my opinion, is that the vast majority are on a power trip and have no interest in 'service.' And then the power trip leads to affairs, favors, etc.

Cheerful Monk said...

Unfortunately the main skill politicians have to have is raising money for their elections. Most of them are good at that.

Nick said...

Bijoux: Even if they weren't on a power trip to begin with, the newly acquired sense of power easily goes to their heads and then the corruption sets in.

Monk: What a waste of millions of dollars, poured into election campaigns rather than helping those ordinary folk who're grubbing along on next to nothing.

Cheerful Monk said...

Millions? This last campaign in the U.S. cost billions. :(

Nick said...

Monk: Indeed it did. Which makes my point even more vividly!

Liz said...

A lot of politicians aren't public school-boys and do live the way we live (we being the reasonably-well-off) but I'm afraid most get tarred by the few who always seem to come to prominence. Or am I being foolish hanging on to my belief (hope?) that politicians are in it for the good of humanity?

Rummuser said...

This post resonates with me.

You should include the bureaucracy in this exercise too.

Our politicos have no clue about what the electors go through. In India, nearly 75% of the population is below 30 years of age and they want instant gratification which the worthies do not understand. A tipping point has been reached recently here and the politician/bureaucrat class is running scared and I for one am delighted.

Nick said...

Liz: Well, yes, a lot of politicians are well-off middle-class rather than public-school toffs, but they're still pretty remote from many of the people they represent.

I think in theory they're in it for the good of humanity, but in practice careerism and self-interest often take over.

Nick said...

Ramana: If you mean the under-30s want their lives improved now and aren't prepared to wait, then no wonder the politicians and bureaucrats are running scared.

Macy said...

What about new legislation that forbids anyone who hasn't held a job outside of Westminster, or signed on benefits, for at least five years, from being elected?

Nick said...

Macy: That's a brilliant idea. That would certainly see some more typical British citizens becoming MPs.

Jenny Woolf said...

Personally I am surprised that so many people think politicians live in a bubble. Most of those I know are hard working and very much in tune with the realities of life. Not the posh ones though, I admit.

Jay said...

It says quite a lot about that bubble that they live in that they are baffled in the first place, does it not?

I wonder if any of them will take on board what has been discovered here.

You know, I think that most politicians do enter politics with good intentions, but it's a job which corrupts. It brings power, fame and money, and distances you from the real world. How can it not corrupt?

Nick said...

Jenny: That's interesting (and encouraging) that the politicians you know are pretty down to earth. Unfortunately they don't seem to be the norm as yet.

Jay: Indeed it does. Absolutely, all that power and privilege does tend to have a corrupting effect on weak individuals whose heads are turned by it.

Suburbia said...

I hadn't heard of her but think she's had a fab idea. As you say, if only the others would follow suit...


Nick said...

Suburbia: Yes, it was enterprising of her to actually go out and ask people why they were so pissed off with politicians. And the answers are most illuminating.