Ruth's Diary


Thanks to the cascade calculator, I learned today that I'm gonna get a 2:1 degree no matter what I do. I'm kinda sad now. I wanted a First. Looking over my marks though, it's clear I should have put in more effort into some of my work. Except that my highest mark comes from 'Language of German Politics', which I put little effort into. Figure that one out.

Today I watched a documentary called 'The People's Politician'. It explored the gulf between the public and politicians, as well as the attempts of 2 MPs (including Ann Widdecombe) to try and engage the politically apathetic. It was a very open and honest documentary, I thought, and the politicians interviewed in the programme were very honest and human, a characteristic that people and the press seem to forget. Tim Samuels was the host and I liked his style; he was genuinely friendly with the politicians he worked with and was sympathetic. He also genuinely tried his best with the experiment of using the internet's various resources to engage the public in politics.

The programme explored some trends of the last few decades, as well as raising questions about political life and expectation. It compared the general political engagement of the 70s to now, revealing how the various forms of political engagement have managed to fade away. It also tried to explore why the gulf is there in the first place: it is revealed that one reason for political apathy is that the national politician has national concerns while his constituents may have more local concerns (that's easily solved, just promote the council's work and presence) while also suggesting reasons why politicians and the public see things differently. It also looks at the problems of political life: the role of the MP is confusing and badly defined, few people in the public understand how politics actually work, and the party whip is very good at making back-benchers apathetic. Seeing demoralised politicians is actually quite sad (especially since they're more than aware of how the public see them).

I think properly revealing what political life is like is very important. Some of the MPs involved in the expenses scandal were interviewed and claimed they had done nothing wrong or illegal. There must be some reason why they think this, they didn't strike me as being necessarily greedy.

If there's one consensus that was repeatedly reached in this programme, it's that politics need to be cleaned up. Well, a constitution that properly explains the roles of the MP, as well as a reform to party hierarchies in order to remove the party whip, are certainly in order. A change to the atmosphere of the House of Commons is also vital; how can MPs properly do their jobs if they're constantly watching their words and looking over their shoulder, while also spending lonely nights drinking too much alcohol to soothe sore wounds? The atmosphere needs to be less hostile. MPs allowed their independence and the comfort to actually befriend others and celebrate a hard day's work with them (no matter what party) would be more optimal and, no doubt, more engaged with the public.

There were also a couple of other revelations that surprised me. One comment was that come election time the party manifestos deal with such complicated issues and mechanisms that, apparently, you can only understand them if you've gone to university. That's definitely not the case (I don't know how many students casually understand economics). Also, I find it astounding that an apprentice in Sheffield doesn't care about anything outside Sheffield. Doesn't he have any wanderlust? I understand being more concerned with local issues than national know what? He's clearly another victim of an education system that fails to train its pupils for the complex, interwoven, globalised society.

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