Monday, 29 January 2007

A canker at the heart of our political system

I’m going to stop writing about Liberal Democrat News soon, I promise!

But one last thing: an excellent comment piece by Andrew George MP in which he examines the easy vacuousness of opposition. As he is writing for Lib Dem News, he’s unable to avoid a dig at David Cameron in the last paragraph, which is a shame as it slightly detracts from the main point of the piece: that it is easy to point the finger of blame but harder to propose alternative policies.

Nonetheless it is a good piece and worth reading; so much so that I have shamelessly reproduced the best part of it here, for which I hope Deirdre Razzall will forgive me. He writes:

‘…political opposition can, in fact, become a deeply unpatriotic business of quietly praying for the worst, secretly shaping the waxed effigies of government aspirations and wishing ill on everything it does.

‘Fairly scant attention to the most successful post-war opposition party campaigns shows that they have not been about capturing the imagination of the electorate with the sheer brilliance of political ideas, but their ability to seize the opportunity to feed like successful vultures on the spoils of the political misfortune or mismanagement of the other side.

‘After a while this becomes an uncomfortably easy part of political instinct: fanning the flames of the doomsday scenario and associating yourself with the collective hand wringing over the failure of government policy. It’s the pastime of the politically talentless, though every politician in opposition has to do the apprenticeship at some time.’
(Liberal Democrat News, issue 932, p5)

This is an honest and unusually candid critique of Mr. George’s profession and one to which I would unswervingly subscribe.

I hope that the implication is that Mr. George, at least, is not guilty of that sad vice. If not, he is a rare politician indeed.

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