Monday 21 June 2010

Imperfect Speakers

I once played the lead rôle in my youth club's production of what I'm told thespians may only ever refer to as the "Scottish play". I can still remember some of my lines (well, it was only 40 years ago!). One line often springs to mind when I hear politicians talking:

"Stay, you imperfect speakers. Tell me more!"

I was talking to the witches of course, but maybe that isn't as different as it sounds. They're all trying to weave their charms. In the case of the witches, they were telling me that I would become Thane of Cawdor, and then King. (To which my response was that: "to be King stands not within the prospect of belief". Life mirrors Art.)

It often seems that politics, in what I would call 'imperfect speaking', has become more about point-scoring, sound bites, and half-truths than about policy. Politics has become more a question of image, technique, and presentation than debate about direction for far too many politicians.

Some have argued that this is a result of being in some sort of 'post-ideology' politics. If ideology is no longer important, than the game is entirely about which team should be running the show rather than which show is being performed. And any of us could easily join any team.

There's a degree of truth in it, of course, sadly. Many politicians, in all parties, do seem to share a pretty common view of the world. Many of the statements I read in the press could have been made by members of any one of Wales' four political parties. With only minor differences, many politicians do indeed share a common ideology in practice.

But an increasing buy-in to one particular ideological perspective is not the same as the death of ideology, certainly not as far as those of us who still cling to a different one are concerned. And I believe that that different perspective is as relevant as ever to the position in which the world finds itself.

If I ever came to the conclusion that politics really was just about which team was batting and which was bowling, I'd know that the time had come to retire completely.

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