As a child, when asked, “What is your favourite colour?”, I would reply, “Blue.” I should be pleased with the result of the council elections with sea-blue flooding into Kent and Sussex, where I live, and can look forward with enthusiasm to the general election, watch the candidates throw out their views in person and in the media, evaluate their arguments, vet them for reliability and competence. Well, can I?
“I am the greatest,” Muhammad Ali would say, again, and again . . . and again. He didn’t ever say why he was the greatest, but then perhaps he did not need to with pugilistic displays of his prowess.
Is this also the case with the statements our political leaders make? Many would argue not, if they lack the equivalent of Muhammad Ali’s record. Nevertheless, they repeat the same phrases (in between bad-mouthing the opposition), with the intention that repetition creates belief – I am the greatest, I am the greatest, I am the greatest.
Are we really dumb enough to deserve this unreasoned, non-evidential political debate? Advertising and PR learnt from the worlds of psychology and more recently neuro-science, and now politics has adopted the tools of advertising and PR, to persuade by emotion (preferably subliminally) and not reason, fact and figure. Many of us suffer, and even the media, print and TV, is beginning to express irritation, but perhaps it is a sad fact of democracy that it works. The tools-of-the-trade of the reality TV star appear to be more helpful in politics today than those of the economist or technocrat. Argument and debate slip away, so what are we voting for, Donald?
Where democracy leads must depend on the society in which it operates, so it is perhaps our consumer oriented, marketing led society that has resulted in the tools used to promote consumerism being employed in politics.
The general election campaign has started with an opening gambit about the best Brexit deal for Britain under the leadership (or not) of our strong, stable, bloody leader. There we have it: a very clear, oft repeated statement about something that is apparently wonderful, but we don’t know what it is. The ‘deal’ that is the heart of this statement remains undefined (for secret negotiating purposes). There is no fact or reasoning, but the emotional request to believe, and since we are not told what the ‘deal’ is, the argument is that this leader is the greatest negotiator, for which there is also no evidence cited. Do not read any political bias into this. I am remarking upon the approach used and could have taken a similar example from any of the opposing camps.
Strangely, even those who don’t think we need a deal are likely to vote for this negotiator, so it is probably not really about the deal anyway. It is probably about getting elected. In fact, no deal or a bad trade deal may not have so much downside for an incumbent government as some think (and I suspect the party leaders know this). New tariffs are good for governments that like extra revenue in the exchequer. This may be why a ‘no deal’ Brexit does not cause too much worry at the top. Revenues derived from twenty percent tariffs on European imports will be a boon for the exchequer, ignoring the longer term. Suddenly there is money to spend and rising towards the end of the next government’s natural term, just in time for the next election.
This is intended as a positive article that raises the battle cry for critical thought, and it naturally leads on to proposal for change to improve the election process. The very specific list of proposals that I have prepared, however, I choose to keep secret, for fear of undermining my position before I embark on my campaign to fight for peace.
This article was written by Fred Piechoczek. All views and opinions expressed are strictly his own.