You can feel it coming. A rumbling change is taking place in Anglo-American politics and its about time. In the last few decades, politics in Western countries has been hijacked by a careerist and fundamentally apolitical bunch with little regard for the people or the country they are supposed to be serving. This disease has been especially rampant in the UK, and has been particularly magnified since the biologically dishonest New Labour administration won the 1997 general election. The USA, to it’s credit, has had a milder dose of this pathology than the UK.
Subsequent to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown in office, David Cameron with his so-called ‘compassionate Conservatism’ has been in power with long-departed beliefs replaced by careerism as the motivation for policy. Crucially, both New Labour led by Blair and One Nation Conservatism under Cameron firmly entrenched their respective parties in the centre ground.
Centrism is a phoney ideology. It is intrinsically devoid of belief or doctrine thus leaving the shaping of policy to be solely dictated by egotistical facets of the mind. The general public invariably sees moderateness or centrism as something positive. Anyone edging more to either edge of the political spectrum are tagged as ‘radical’ or ‘extreme’ although what triggers this labelling is the firm stance and opinion expressed by the person in question with no deviation. They will be characterised as unreasonable bigots. Although the concepts of compromise and concession cannot be dogmatically rejected, a too flexible willingness to fluctuate displays a larger picture of abandoned principles or a lack of any at all. Essentially, centrist politicians don’t have an overall ambition for society. Hence, a fatal absence of a blueprint by which to determine policy, which leaves the outcome to be fuelled solely by a careerist agenda.
We are currently in the age of the soundbite; where a shallow and cynical politics have replaced a principled and authentic one. This is never more evident than in political TV debates when you get the sense that you aren’t actually being spoken to by a another living, breathing human being, but rather by some glorified robot with an exceptionally strong battery. Carefully constructed sentences have been concocted beforehand by some greasy spin doctor to present the person in question as vague, neutralised and as metaphorically distant as possible from the audience. Marco Rubio never looked dafter than when Chris Christie took him to task for illustrating this very condition in one of the Republican primary debates in February. This is in stark contrast to TV debates of the past. One merely has to take the shortest of looks at TV debates of old – for example those involving Ronald Reagan amongst others during that era – and notice how real they sound compared to the grey, computerised mob of today.
The consequences of this phenomenon are various. The electorate have become increasingly disenfranchised with politics, and namely with the charlatans available to elect. Whilst the twentieth century was a century of altruism in various and – albeit more often than not – toxic forms, the current age is one of self-engrossed narcissism with the primary victims being principle, policy and truth. This is precisely why you see Western governments winning elections with far smaller majorities from far smaller turnouts than previously and once more no better demonstration of this sensation can be found than in the UK.
David Cameron’s Conservative Party won the general election of 2015 with a ‘majority’ of less than 40% of the vote from a voter turnout of less than 70%. This translates into the reality that the Conservatives actually only won the support of around 24% of the electorate in total. The UK’s First Past The Post (FPTP) voting system ensured the Tories took control.
This is a legal majority rather than a numerical one. As the respected journalist Peter Hitchens noted, a growing number of people simply don’t vote at all. These people have no one to vote for, are disillusioned with politics and cannot discern the distinctions between a lot of centrist politicians who happen to belong to different parties but are ideologically identical. Those who do vote, tend to increasingly do so emotively with a personal liking to a candidate formed upon some external triviality such as his or her looks, personality and so on. But with the tide turning and greater inspection of content by the electorate, politicians like Marco Rubio are starting to stall.
This careerism has contributed massively to the rise of Donald Trump in the US. His predominant appeal is largely ‘saying it how it is’ which is enough to jolt some interest into the dozey, disenchanted voters. Albeit, Trump has a repeated history of making contradictory statements in regard to policy which makes it anyone’s guess what policies he will apply upon the unlikely possibility of an election victory. Despite this, he comes across as genuine which is his largest asset.
Back in the UK, Jeremy Corbyn is the leader of the Labour Party. An uncompromising Socialist who has significant support at grassroots level, Corbyn has injected a previously absent degree of seriousness into the weekly Prime Ministers Questions (PMQ’s) in the House of Commons. However, he is seen to ‘lose’ to David Cameron in the weekly duels between the two at PMQ’s largely because he sticks observantly to the issue at hand. Charisma is undoubtedly a necessary attribute for leadership but Corbyn’s resolute desire to remain glued to the content and not engage in the irrelevant antics should be applauded.
To a lesser extent, the UK Independence Party, led by the charismatic Nigel Farage have come out of political oblivion and gained national attention due in no small part to Farage’s authentic style of politics. He doesn’t use an autocue when he speaks. He sounds real. Even the notorious George Galloway – someone I deeply deplore for his abhorrent adoration of terrorist war criminals from Saddam Hussein to Bashar al-Assad – is someone who says what he thinks and vice versa and should be admired for doing so.
Michael Caine recently said “once you’re left of Blair or right of Cameron I don’t trust you.” I fundamentally disagree. Being centrist is for beliefless and opportunistic politicans to manipulate any political situation to advance his or her own agendas and interests and it is they who should be treated with the utmost distrust and suspicion.
Hillary Clinton perfectly embodies this. This is a woman oozing with dishonesty who will in all likelihood be the next President. Whilst many across the political spectrum and indeed across the world find Trump, Cruz and Farage alongside Sanders and Corbyn unattractive at best and deeply appalling at worst, there should be an optimistic feeling that we are gradually approaching the other side of the self-serving careerist tunnel and returning to governments headed by selfless patriots who fully digest that they are serving the country and not the other way around.