I have written many times about the lunacy of having a political process which shows itself to be incapable of holding governments to account: about the ease with which our elected representatives when asked questions by either journalists or other members of parliament can obfuscate, avoid the issue or downright lie. (My last blog in fact commented on the idiocy of presenting a ‘plan’ for change without any measurable success factors which can be used to determine success.)
It strikes me that the issue with this, and the reason that this is never discussed or addressed by our elected representatives themselves, is that this is expected – even desired – behaviour. Politicians KNOW that politicians lie, and they KNOW that they themselves lie. The entire environment has a modus operandi of presenting things ONLY in the way in which flatters the person presenting. Questions are avoided when they would provide revealing answers, and are turned into grand-standing or abuse towards the questioner. Those asking the questions may well harrumph at the lack of response, but with the full knowledge that they employ the same tactics themselves.
One can only conclude, that politicians do not in fact want oversight – sure they want to be able to point things out to the public (or at least those who listen), but they don’t actually want any categorical unambiguous criticism to be levelled since this could be turned towards them too. The entire political system itself is designed to create a partisan environment in which each party has a set of ‘followers’ who will blindly accept any crap that their ‘side’ spouts. What else can explain the lack of accountability, the facility with which politicians can lie and obfuscate and the lack of any tangible effort to prevent this behaviour by governments of any colour?
And yet, it is not out of the question to have an alternative political environment:
Imagine if we prevented politicians from casting aspersions about their political peers? No more would a member of parliament be able to say – “what we have is better that what you would do”.
Imagine if every policy launched had to declare the starting point and the desired end point? Instead of being able to say “we will take back control” the statement had to clearly outline the elements of control that are not currently held but which would be in the future.
Imagine if instead of saying you will build 40 new hospitals you had to say that you would knock-down and rebuild 40 hospitals.
The fact of the matter is, that the political environment is built around a deliberate lack of clarity, and yet we expect that people should be in a position to make an informed decision when voting.
This is not democracy, this is tribalism.