Political football

The PM’s mendacious maunderings on the subject of liberty have been adequately picked apart elsewhere (amongst others), so I’m not going to comment on that except to say that it is surprising to find a qualified lawyer so profoundly ignorant of the basics of their profession*. Instead I want to ask what it is that keeps people who oppose a party’s central policies campaigning and voting for them.

To talk of issues being treated as political footballs is a tired and worn out cliché. But what worries me more is the tendency of political party members (and even just supporters) to treat their parties as if they were football teams. That is to say, their party will receive their support no matter how crap it is, no matter what rubbish it is putting out. This sort of tribal loyalty is all very well when it comes to supporting one sporting team rather than another – supporting ‘my team’ because ‘I’ve always supported my team’ – but applying the same sort of unthinking loyalty in politics is frankly lazy, stupid and dangerous.

Yet that is exactly how many, perhaps most, party members and supporters (of all parties) behave towards their objects of their loyalty – unthinking devotion. And I don’t mean that there is a consciously thought-out decision that “I like policies A and B, but dislike C and D, yet on the whole A and B are more important, so they get my vote.” That at least would be some kind of rational process. I mean the thinking that goes, “C and D are really important, but more important still is that no other party should win – even though the other parties oppose C and D as well.” The essentially bizarre idea that you can campaign against bad policies, but should still support the party proposing them, because your party winning outweighs all other considerations.

Well the political process is just a little more important than football (though obviously not as measured by time on TV), and it’s not who wins power that matters, it’s what they do with it. It should be treated with the seriousness it deserves.

*And even more surprising that the country’s top law officer seems equally ill-informed.

Of the tyrant, spies and informers are the principal instruments. War is his favorite occupation, for the sake of engrossing the attention of the people, and making himself necessary to them as their leader.
Aristotle

5 Responses to “Political football”

  1. David Hadley Says:

    An interesting question.
    I voted Laborg in ’97 despite my – seemingly instinctive – loathing for Tony Blair.
    I voted for Laborg again the last time, despite Blair, The Religious Hatred bill, ID cards and so on.
    Despite all the things I didn’t like about them, at the time Laborg seem the least worst option and I think it is important to vote. So, through gritted teeth it was.
    But after what they all didn’t do about those cartoons, especially Jack Straw and all the other things they’ve done I’ll never vote for them again.
    So, where does that leave me? I don’t want to be a non-voter, but there doesn’t seem to be, or any likelyhood of, anything on offer I could vote for, plenty I’d vote against – from all sides (I have just as much instinctive loathing of Cameron as I have of Blair (and Simon Hughes), but nothing to vote for.

  2. Neil Harding Says:

    I have no loyalty to the Labour party, in fact under a different electoral system I would probably vote and campaign for the Green Party, but under this system it’s either a Tory government or a Labour government. With that choice and believing in more egalitarianism policies, I am always going to choose to campaign for a Labour government, which is what I do.

    Those who slag off Labour and tell people to vote against it are barking up the wrong tree because all that is going to lead to is a Tory government that will accelerate the drift to centralised power. They would be better off joining the Labour party and campaigning from the inside for more devolved power and constitutional reform, which is what I am doing. There is a sign that this is gathering momentum and on the verge of bearing fruit. The Labour party is the only party that is going to deliver this progressive change. The Left have an extremely strong and proud history on civil liberties in this country, the Tories have the opposite record.

  3. Chuck Ee Says:

    Example: If, at the last election you, and everyone who disliked the present system, had voted for the candidate most likely to defeat their sitting MP, we would have a Parliament which had to figure out how to do things from scratch (so wouldn’t be hidebound by conventional structures), a Parliament which would be terrified by the power of the electorate to pass judgement on its decisions. And you wouldn’t have had Michael Howard as PM.

    Instead of thinking what you could do, you are among the 22% of the electorate who have returned to power a government intent on installing the apparatus of a totalitarian state.

    You hate yourselves more than you love Labour. You won’t think about what you can do to change things.

    The other 78% of us are not grateful.

  4. Longrider » Political Allegiances Says:

    [...] Pete in Dunbar raised the issue of political allegiance; that of the unthinking variety; “my party no matter what.” Bob Piper has picked up on the theme, and it has set me thinking. You see, I disagree with Bob’s remark that those of us who leave the party are glory hunters: Those who support one team, and are wedded to that team through history, family, culture and tradition, don’t do that and they have contempt for the ‘glory hunters’ who do. [...]

  5. Longrider » Political Allegiances Says:

    [...] Pete in Dunbar raised the issue of political allegiance; that of the unthinking variety; “my party no matter what.” Bob Piper has picked up on the theme, and it has set me thinking. You see, I disagree with Bob’s remark that those of us who leave the party are glory hunters: Those who support one team, and are wedded to that team through history, family, culture and tradition, don’t do that and they have contempt for the ‘glory hunters’ who do. [...]


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