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Personality vs Policy

All the world's a stage,

And all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and their entrances,

And one man in his time plays many parts...

- William Shakespeare, As You Like It


The Punch and Judy Show, a pantomime, and circus are all epithets used to describe the goings on at Westminster, and it's easy to see why.


The current furore over Boris Johnson's partying has brought into stark focus the lack of attention paid to policy, and the obsession instead with personality in British politics. Instead of attacking Conservative policies, which have left millions in the UK on the precipice of poverty and deprivation, Keir Starmer's Labour are focusing solely on unseating the Prime Minister.


Dig a little deeper, though, and it's apparent that there is precious little difference when it comes to Conservative and Labour policy these days. Both want to push ahead with the privatisation of the NHS, neither want to renationalise utilities, both are rattling sabres when it comes to Russia and neither have any serious intention of dealing with the cost of living crisis affecting millions across the country.


So, what exactly is the point of the parliamentary theatrics we witness?


The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum...

- Noam Chomsky, The Common Good


Chomsky has neatly hit the nail on the head. The appearance of lively debate serves to sustain the illusion of democracy. If you want to read more about that illusion, I deal with it in a previous blog post https://www.tanweerdar.com/post/illusions-of-democracy.


In a world in which celebrity and fame are so highly regarded and rewarded, it is not difficult to see how such a state of affairs is accepted without question by so many among the population. Many will even celebrate a change in leader and colour, blissfully unaware that the change in personality does not in any way equate to a change in policy.


How can we overcome this charade?


By putting policy first. It may seem obvious, but we need to train ourselves to actively look for and at policies rather than personalities. What are the issues and what does a party advocate doing about them? If they are not contributing solutions to problems, then they are the problem.


Change is both necessary and possible. But it will not happen until we all take the responsibility to scratch beneath the surface of the show Westminster puts on for us.




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