It was in my lower year of the sixth form when I realised there was something not quite right about politicians. I was in a Government and Politics class when we began discussing our local MP, who I had in all honesty never heard of, nor thought of until that moment. It was in researching how he’d voted in Parliament when I saw the thin veil lift, and my mind was well and truly opened as to the embarrassment of having one represent my locality in such a way as he had done for many years.
To give context, he was a local MP who had campaigned frivolously on behalf of the Conservatives, campaigning to an unapologetically middle-class and predominantly white community in a manner that screamed progress- straying from the archaic principles of politicians long lost to age and social change. It seemed, to me and my fellow constituents, that publicly he may actually try and shift the balance in favour of the majority, away from the elitist minority that’s succour, historically, never extended further than personal gain. His campaign was fuelled by the rhetoric of progression, in closing the wage gaps, and funding housing projects for first-time buyers- a breath of fresh air given the uphill battle left in the wake of the 2008 financial crash that had truly left many in a pool of mass vulnerability not seen for decades. So, as I sat there, reading and ignorantly succumbing to the claims made, my teacher then savvily switched tabs to the public, yet rarely referenced, Parliamentary voting records. There lay the evidential truths, and thus subsequent lies that were told—having voted against gay marriage, for the ending of the help-to-buy scheme and a seemingly never-ending list of things so far removed from the man I thought I was looking at just a few moments prior.
This is where my cynicism towards politicians blossomed, begging the question as to why? I like to think everyone has good intentions, especially when entering a field of work in which physical change can happen should you wish, though a struggle might ensure- it is worth it, though, surely? To fight for one’s beliefs, and for the right to express oneself is what politicians must hold an abundance of pride in doing, in the battle for change- not in the continuation of the old, nor to cower in the face of one’s adversary or party whip. Maybe this is an arrogance I have held onto for too long, in the belief that politicians do it because they care, in the spirit of altruism and in the belief that democracy works to serve the people collectively, and not the few.
What I urge, therefore, is for an unambiguous and approachable way of holding politicians accountable for their actions, and more specifically in response to their lies. We all undoubtedly know the Brexit campaign lies inside out by now, having been circulated and exposed then as much as they are now as a point of contention between the public and the politicians who supposedly represent them. The campaigns were as demonstrative as humanly possible of the duality of politicians, in their manipulative and exploitative attempts to coerce the people into believing spiel that the average person would readily buy into- especially given the hardships so many still endure as a result of the extensive marginalisation and polarisation that this country has undergone since the Second World War. The promises were made, and yet never met, like the infamous NHS weekly budget that saw many votes against their own beliefs in the hope of upholding an integral part of our society that was, and still is, under immense pressure to survive as a result of the government’s austerity policies.
The same applies to the extensive lies following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, to which Theresa May readily saw as an opportunity to, quote, “fight the burning injustices that still scar our society.” This was in response to the deaths of 72 people, and a moment that marked the point of exertion of the British public in their outcry for acknowledgement, to be heard and seen in a way that the British Government could not ignore. A speech was made, the Prime Minister did not even care to meet the survivors, but that did not stop a half-hearted attempt at an inquiry that took four years to surface- a sign of the times, or just of the unwillingness of politicians to fulfil their duty to their people? I feel as though it is time to show politicians for what they really are, expose who they present themselves to be, opposed to what we see through the rose-tinted filtration device that is the mainstream news.
Though it would be unfair to label all politicians as duplicitous power-hungry single-celled organisms (no nerve), it is hard to see them as anything but,- especially in times when they are truly needed, as in the aforementioned examples. These were times when the public looked to those who they had elected in hope of finding a source of truth and reliance that most will not be able to effectively convey. It was times like these that people may be waking up to the actuality of politics, and not to what is drip-fed to them by their questionably trustful sources of news. We all have one crack at the whip, so why would Politicians strive to exert their power and influence into anything but the ‘greater good’?
(Photo credit @jordhan from Unsplash.com)