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15 March 2013
WHAT PEOPLE GENERALLY THINK OF POLITICIANS
“For most of us, political decision-making, even active political involvement, is something we delegate to others….What is curious is not that we are content to delegate to others the hard business of taking decisions, but that we choose to give authority over our lives to people who so many of the population seem to think are a bunch of charlatans.
“In much of the public mind, politicians are all the same. They’re a bunch of egotistical, lying narcissists who sold their souls long ago and would auction their children tomorrow if they thought it would advance their career. They are selfish, manipulative, scheming, venal. The only feelings they care about are their own. They set out to climb the greasy pole so long ago that they had lost contact with reality by the time they were in their twenties. You cannot trust a word any politician says and if you shake hands with them, you ought to count your fingers afterwards. They are not people you would want your son or daughter to marry.”
Extract from page 13 of “The Political Animal” by Jeremy Paxman published by Michael Joseph in 2002.
This summary of the contempt in which politicians are popularly held by the general public seems to be borne out by a vox-pop interview carried out by commentator Zoe Williams that was published in the London Guardian on 16 February 2013. Williams interviewed a selection of random voters at Eastleigh in Hampshire in the run-up to a parliamentary by-election there on 28 February 2013.
Williams asked voters what they thought of the candidates competing to succeed Chris Huhne, who had precipitated the by-election by resigning as Member of Parliament for Eastleigh after pleading guilty in court to lying over a speeding offence.
This is her report:
‘There is one matter on which the people of Eastleigh are in complete unison.
“This lot”, says [Joyce] Talbot, “I just think they’re in it for themselves. They’re lining their pockets, and sod the rest of us.”
Terri Smith, asked what she thought of Chris Huhne, said: “I hope he goes to jail. What was he even in parliament for anyway? He doesn’t need the money, he’s a millionaire many times over.”
“I don’t think a lot of any of them,” Bernard said sadly. “You never get the truth, they do something wrong, there’s a scandal, it fades away. If that were you or me, we’d be out.”
“I’m fed up with all of them, said Kelly, [aged] 28. “I did like Chris Huhne. I did think he was probably a good thing for Eastleigh. But it’s obvious now that they’re all just covering their own backs and nobody’s thinking of the general public.”
“The problem with the big parties,” said [Nazrin] Wilkinson, “is that it’s all about success. Their connection and their bonding with real issues have gone.”
I don’t know how much it means. But I know that I’ve never been anywhere and heard so many different people say in effect the same thing’.
Readers who want to look into this further might like to check out Antigone1984’s essay “Partitocracy v. Democracy” in section 2 below. This fits the low esteem enjoyed by politicians into a party-political context.
You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts. For instance:
1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)
2. Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)
3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)
4. Capitalism in practice (4 July 2012)
5.Ladder (21 June 2012)
6. A tale of two cities (1) (6 June 2012)
7. A tale of two cities (2) (7 June 2012)
8. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)
Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.