The rise of the politics of nothing

21 Aug 2018

Over the last few years, politics has become less and less focussed on anything whatsoever.

 

These past few months have been a particularly bland period. Our politicians have been more or less completely focussed on themselves and each other, and the media has followed suit.

 

Scandal after scandal entail only what he said or she said, where he’s been standing or hasn’t been standing, who’s in a room with who and who wasn’t standing in that room with who.

 Just think about the latest few melodramas. Boris Johnson’s burqa comments, Corbyn’s wreath-laying train wreck, May’s cabinet calamity. Even since the beginning of his presidential run, there was a constant fixation on Trump’s latest jibe or insult. The common factor is that pretty much across the board, politicians have basically no impact upon the tangible lives of the population.

 

It’s all mystical, wishy-washy hogwash. There are irrelevant little anecdotes and politicians squabbling amongst themselves.

 

When you think about it all in the greater scheme of things, none of it’s really important whatsoever. It’s all just a self-obsessed, elite little bubble of ministers and journalists spinning round and round, chasing each other’s tails. Housing, healthcare, education, the economy - all the real issues lie by the wayside, slowly deteriorating.

 

The voters are left to rot, their own livelihoods falling apart around them, yet glued to their screens by what’s effectively become simply mind-numbing reality TV. They don’t have time to realise just how absurd, and self-destructive, this entire debate’s become. Today’s politics is one where nothing really matters. The things that do matter don’t seem to matter at all, and the things that don’t matter seem to be the things that matter the most. It’s frankly Orwellian and our priorities are absurd.

 

Is it all an accident, though? Absolutely not. We live in a society where real-terms wages aren’t set to reach pre-crisis levels until 2025. Global temperatures are soaring. The housing market and rent rises are running away at a quite frankly ridiculous rate. Of course, our politicians aren’t going to the focus to on the real issues. If we actually paid attention just for one second, every one of them would have been thrown out of office years ago. So they huff and they puff and they clog up the news cycle.

 

It’s not a wild coincidence that as the world has become worse and worse, and the reporting on it has become weaker and weaker. They fabricate these playground squabbles between each other: someone comes out with something outrageous, someone responds, journalists run up and down Westminster clamouring for comment, fully aware that none of it really matters in the first place. Then, before they can get back to business and concentrate on the real stuff, another meaningless drama drops.

 

That’s not to say the politicians aren’t genuinely warring it out for votes – they are. It’s a constant PR battle with distinct sides, yet the frame it’s all debated within has been dictated beforehand to suit them, and suit their careers. They want to maintain the comfortable status of getting nothing done that they’ve become so used to.

Even Brexit, the consistent number one story of the last few years, pretty much fits this bill. It’s a shake-up of the political establishment and oligarchy, that’s for sure. But when it comes to how it will be felt in each of our everyday lives, nobody seems to care to report it.

 

Just think about the whole debacle last December with Theresa May - a massive fuss about ongoing negotiations with regards to a framework to set the scene for a future round of negotiations which would then lead to a decision which would properly kick in, roughly two years later. It’s about as separated from the everyday lives of the people as you can get. The media is 100% complicit. If anything, it benefits them the most: celebrity-style drama sells copies far better than the latest batch of inflation statistics from the ONS.

 

This is why Corbyn did so well in the last election. At a time when pretty much no one seemed to be paying attention to the real issues on the street - the entire campaign period seemed pretty much guaranteed to entirely focus on Brexit, Brexit, Brexit - along he came and started talking about housing, education and all the things people actually care about. Things that spell real, tangible change. The wave of popularity rode him to the doorstep of Number 10, and despite all the scandals, he hasn’t wavered from that line since.

 

So how do we counter this rise of meaningless drivel? Put simply, demand and supply are everything. The more clicks the newspapers get, and more copies they sell, the more they’re going to keep printing that bunk. If the demand suddenly cuts off, their revenue stops flowing in, then they’re going to notice. Then they might actually turn their attention to the issues at hand, put our politicians under genuine scrutiny and get the policy change we need to get the country moving.

 

Basically, next time you see a headline about Boris Johnson’s latest blunder, or Corbyn’s newest scandalous photo, ignore it. Scroll on in your feed, and find something worthy of your time. Don’t give them the satisfaction of distracting you from what really matters; you’re better than that.

 

Keep following that path, keep abstaining from the barrage of nothing, and our politics might finally, once again, reform to become actually about…something.

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