Saturday, May 23, 2009

If all political parties are now the same, why do I still believe in the English political system, or do I? I'm confused!


I can't remember who I wrote this column for, or when, but I thought I might as well post it on the blog anyway! Oh, I'm assuming I wrote this during the second Bush administration, and certainly before the English MP expenses fuss.

I remember when I growing up, the political parties in this country were easy to tell apart. I knew this because Harry Enfield told me all Tories were fascist snobs blaming all the ills of society on single mothers and dole scum. The news told me that all Labour supporters were miners on strike in Yorkshire and Lancashire. If you were a Conservative then you were well moneyed, drove a posh car and live in *gasp* a detached house! If you wore the red Rosette you lived in a two up, two down terrace house with at least four generations of your family, your ten (or more) grubby faced barefooted scraggly little urchin offspring and a comfort blanket of thick smog.

Not often spotted on television, the rare Liberals all drove 2CVs, stunk of body odour and ambling around in their Jesus saddles stoned out of their whacky minds. Now of course I know there is no longer a defining difference between who puts a tick by which box. Of course the truth is you probably never could.

Whilst trade union members are more likely to vote for Labour candidates they appear to do so because they may have a member of parliament in power that they can control. Trade Unions may financially support Labour candidates as they can be used once in power to push the interests of that union’s members. That’s surely no different to rich businessmen ploughing cash into Conservative campaigns in order to get tax breaks? I believe that there are people in politics because they genuinely believe they can improve our lot, or better represent the oppressed.

But the media view given to us is that most members of parliament are fairly idle, if they’re not snorting crack off a prostitute whilst taking cash for questions then they’re involved in dodgy property deals or shoplifting posh booze. And therein lies the problem, we are only given the identities of public figures that support the current marketing slant of any media corporation that is trying to relieve us of our money. There was a case recently of an MP who was ‘disgraced’ for having a gay affair. He has been a faithful parliament representative for many years, and probably helped more than a few doddery old dears with banal rights of way issues, but for some reason this appears to mean that he’s not allowed to get his end away in the manor he sees fit!

The identity of entire nations can be dictated by the press. Currently America is portrayed worldwide in the American media as some sort of crusader for the cause of good, whilst everyone in the known world sees the country as being a self serving, self interested peddler of horror and death. Now a helluva lot of people live in America so surely not all of them are flag waving Bush fanatics? In our hearts we know this isn’t true, in fact I think this is the issue that has finally tripped up the media at large. For the first time (as far as I can remember, although probably since Vietnam) the world at large views the message of the news media with phenomenal scepticism. We simply don’t believe the hype, and all Americans I know are horrified at the way their country is represented. In fact some USA citizens I know now lie about their nationality when abroad!

So what’s the answer to inoculating ourselves from all this financially guided misinformation? Well we already have the means if we haven’t grabbed hold of it for the purpose of good. The internet has become our alternative communication network, but how accurate is the information we have? Sure it’s not filtered and guided to the same extent as anything on say, the Fox network but it’s inaccurate in a whole different way. With billions of people tip tapping away at any one time online we have created ourselves the universes biggest ever game of Chinese whispers! So the responsibility for accurate news now lies with us as individuals. It’s our job to research and filter any news we get before we pass it on to our friends and colleagues. By doing this we may even find the truth. But do we really want the truth?

Cheers to Graham Birks for the lovely photo of me you see above.