Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Friday, 21 December 2007

Would You Be Any Different, Mr Redwood ?

Good post here from John Redwood, revealing that one politician at least understands what people want from their government. The trouble is, does anyone really believe that anything would be different under the Conservatives ?

Redwood puts what amounts to a pretty simple set of requests on his Christmas list: attention to the job in hand instead of to the media; an end to spin; careful use of taxpayers' money; application of common sense; an end to the management consultancy culture; respect of Parliament; accountability and the acceptance of responsibility; straightforward and honest responses to questions from Press and other politicians. I've got one thing to add; a level of behaviour in the House of Commons that wouldn't make a couple of ten-year-old tearaways look like angels by comparison, by which I mean displaying the ability to listen to opponents without heckling, and not shouting purile abuse across the floor.

You wouldn't think it was hard. It's not much to ask, is it ? And yet, in many ways I think it is. We are a million miles away from having a government that behaves in a way its people are likely to respect. To read Redwood you'd think the Conservatives were the political equivilent of Mother Teresa last time they were in office. But they got kicked out because they lacked honesty, they failed time and again to admit fault, they raised taxes for no obvious return and they were surrounded by scandal and poor behaviour at every turn.

Would they be any different now ? Well I suppose it's conceivable that they've learned some lessons about not preaching one thing and doing another. Some of them might actually keep their willies inside their trousers while harping on about familiy values. They might treat our money and, possibly Parliament, with a degree of respect. But would they treat us with any ? Would we see an end to spin, concealment and deceipt ? I doubt it.

The trouble with being in government is that it takes guts. It needs bravery to put your hand up as a minister and say that your government has made a complete balls of something. It's tough to say "sorry", not least of all because when you're in charge of the whole of the public sector you'd need to say it so often. Many's the time it's so much easier to try to look good than actually be (or do) good.

Too many politicans treat people like idiots. They think we'll believe them when they say they're so much better than the other lot, or completely united on every issue. They think we're taken in when they blame the previous administration or say that they're going to sort something out when they've got niether the inclination nor the ability to do so. And they think we're impressed when they shrug off questions about they're own performance by telling us that their opponents are worse.

When I was actually involved in party politics some twenty years ago I used to feel a bit hurt when people on the doorstep told me "You're all the same" and "You never listen". It wasn't until I'd been out of it for a while that I saw they were right.

What could change all this ? Well, you'd need a party that was utterly determined to be ruthlessly honest with themselves and with us. They'd have to be able to look at themselves critically and evaluate their own performance in the cold light of day. They'd have to be prepared to say "Sorry, this has not gone the way we wanted it to" and "This is a cock-up and it's down to us" with monotonous regularity. When things went wrong their first reaction would have to be to put them right rather than to look for the exit door marked "Spin". And from time-to-time they'd have to be prepared to end careers by being man enough to resign.

Can the Conservative Party deliver all this ? Not a chance. David Cameron has not got the leadership skills to instil this kind of discipline in his ranks. He himself is too reliant on image rather than policy. And those around him are no different. It's a crying shame, because the public is desperate for politicans who are prepared to be different - honest, open, courteous and brave.

They could start by behaving like adults in the House of Commons.


Shades said...

Politically active twenty years ago? A young Tory Boy?

Womble On Tour said...

Federation of Conservative Students, in fact. We got onto the front page of the Sun after an especially riotous conference at Loughborough.