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Thursday, January 31, 2013 

Ever fallen in love..

Interesting to read Iain Dale's post on how he's falling out of love with politics, along with a couple of equally thought-provoking responses.  My own take on why apathy seems to have become the default response to politics is similar to Paul's, in that it leads back not to Thatcher, but rather to the surrender to the markets of the late 70s, exemplified by Denis Healey's going to the IMF and James Callaghan's statement that Keynesianism was no longer an option.  With that surrender has come the failure of politicians to offer anything approaching a vision of a better society: all they promise now is either shallow aspiration, a belief in the fallacy of meritocracy, or more simply, that they'll do a better job of managing the country than the other lot.

Let's face it: the main political battle since the sub-prime crisis has been over who will cut what and when.  The choice on offer has been either cuts now, or slightly less deep cuts over a longer term period.  In fact, such has been the coalition's success that their programme for deficit reduction is now practically indistinguishable from that of Labour's, albeit Miliband 'n' Balls would do things slightly differently, whether through their jobs guarantee or cut in VAT etc.  The only real resistance to this inexorable narrative has been from the Occupy movement, who in this country at least seemed determined to ensure their own irrelevance from the outset.  No leaders, no real suggestion as to what the alternative should be, just that corporations aren't people, bankers aren't very nice and that everyone should pay their fair share of tax.  Inspiring it wasn't.

When politicians won't even provide the merest outline of how they want to make things better, or won't in terms that aren't technocratic, you can't be surprised that so many switch off.  Which brings me to another explanation that is far more prosaic: there's never been so much to distract yourself with as there is today.  When in 1976 there were only 3 television channels, extremely primitive video games and VHS systems still a couple of years away, politics was something to involve yourself in even if you weren't particularly vehement in your views.  Today if you so wish you can avoid hearing almost anything of the news let alone politics, and you can't really blame those who choose to do so.

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