The quite ridiculous recent debate about renewing the Trident nuclear missile deterrent made me think about how out of touch our politicians and media really are. We have for years lived in a society where government and the press have told us what is good for us, what we should be concerned about and who are enemies are. Both also know how to get us to vote with fear in our hearts.
My guess is that public thinking is actually far more advanced than right wing journalists and the majority of our politicians may think.
Firstly, Trident is the product of the cold war and even Jeremy Corbyn can’t quite grasp that despite him being high up in CND circles. It needs to be phased out as part of a wide ranging defence review that tackles where the threats to the UK actually are as opposed to where they once were. Keep the submarines but take the missiles away, really! Or, we must keep the missiles because they provide UK jobs? So should we base our economy on producing weapons to provide jobs? Neither idea is credible public policy in 2016 Mr Corbyn.
Right to die – Apart from the few people I speak to with strong religious views everyone seems to think that all of us should have the right to die as we choose; with all the proper safeguards in place of course. Politicians and the press just get in a tangle about this without wanting to allow us to do what we want to do. If you can’t control your own life, what freedom do you have? If some folks don’t want to exercise a right to die then no one will make them do so but to deny that right to others is utterly appalling.
And what about our ridiculous drug laws which have had the unintended consequence of creating a crime wave that we can’t escape from? Is it not time to open our minds to newer more radical solutions that other countries are seriously trying? Yes, our present drug laws may well keep many police and customs employees in jobs but is that or indeed the similar argument for keeping Trident a sensible way of making public policy?
There are of course many other major public policy issues (not least the environmental catastrophe that awaits us if we can’t successfully address global warming/clean energy) but I use these 3 to highlight my concerns. Our ruling politicians and media barons try to control what we think and how we react because it suits them to do so. They want to stay in power/in control. But every few years they are forced to rethink their old fashioned ways of doing things so that they can try to stay in power and in control. Are we approaching another such change?
When people started to flock towards Corbyn (by joining or rejoining the Labour Party) they were not doing so because they thought he was going to make a great leader. I have yet to meet anyone who thinks he would be such a great leader. They flocked towards him because they wanted and still want change; to loosen the power of the ruling classes over us. In this case the New Labour ruling classes.
When Farron was elected as the Lib Dem Leader last year the same thing was happening in that radical thinking non-socialist people wanted him to challenge the old certainties.
I think it fair to say that Corbyn has proved he is no leader and that he is probably stuck in the political past. It is also fair to say that Farron is yet to find his truly radical edge to match what at times can be quite powerful rhetoric.
I suspect that both of them realise that society is changing fast but the Westminster bubble still pulls them towards the old realities that those in power are comfortable with. It will be interesting to see if either of them manages to set themselves free from the old politics or whether someone new rises to the political surface who is not encumbered by the old political baggage.
A look over the pond to Justin Trudeau, Canada’s new Prime Minister, shows how radical politicians can break through. It may be in the fullness of time that Trudeau disappoints in the way some think that Obama has but both started with really positive agendas that folk were willing to support and even get enthusiastic about. Of course, a similar thing happened here with Blair and but he ultimately proved to be a great disappointment to many especially over the war in Iraq.
Oh for credible, radical leaders who are not prisoners of the past. The challenge is there but is anyone up for it in UK politics?