Paul Staines points out that ConservativeHome have declared that Peter Oborne’s “The Triumph of the Political Classes” is their chosen book of the year. Not having read it, I don’t feel qualified to say something acerbic, like “Ho hum” or whatever.
Nevertheless, Oborne’s analysis is going to have to be responded to, for the sake of democracy. Because when journalists jump on this particular anti-politics bandwagon, they risk undermining not just the individual politicians they hate so much, but the very idea of representative democracy. When I hear right wing libertarians talking about how awful every politician is, how we’ve all got our snouts in the trough, that we’re not representative or – the worst possible accusation and the core theme of Osborne’s book (I think) – that some of us are ‘career politicians’ who have spent our whole working lives in politics – I assume that the phrase “The army could do a better job sorting out the country” is only a breath away.
This antipathy towards politicians itself isn’t new. In fact it’s been around for so long it’s positively passé. But the sheer invective, the bitterness, the utter contempt, the downright hatred of people they’ve (for the most part) never met is new and corrosive. What’s the end game? To drive the current generation of politicians out of the profession (and yes, it is a profession)? To be replaced by whom? By new politicians who will be different in every respect from what we already have? Or is the aim not to have us replaced at all after we’ve sloped off? A country run by Peter Oborne and Paul Staines? What a lovely thought.
I genuinely don’t care about the opinion of people like that. But if their destructive philosophy permeates the public consciousness to any degree, and voter turn out consequently falls to historic lows, what then? Mission accomplished as far as Staines & Oborne are concerned, I suppose.
To be continued.