Monday, 24 November 2014

Is it any wonder people are fed up with politics as it is practised?

Children are brought up from their very earliest years to be polite. This includes speaking respectfully to and about others. School reinforces this principle and workplaces only work effectively by putting it into practice. Society has learned over time that discrimination against people on the grounds of who they are rather than what they do or say is a form of ill-manners deleterious to social cohesion. It is not rude to say someone is gay, black, Muslim, foreign or female; but it is anti-social to treat these as factors on which to base attitudes or behaviour. We know this so clearly that laws have been put in place to ensure compliance.
Even without laws, common sense says that manners are a lubricant of a peaceful society. If someone is rude or offensive to another, it is not surprising if this creates tension or reaction which in turn may lead on to aggression or worse. Recognising this, Parliament set in place rules for behaviour and language which the Speaker enforces. But take the same body of people away from the discipline of the House and they act like unruly children. MPs in particular - often egged on by journalists in search of a story - have become the very exemplars of how not to behave in a civil society.

Name-calling by the very highest in the land sets the sort of example which damages the efforts at upbringing invested in those who should be admiring them. This is made even worse when these same supposed leaders use their rhetorical platform to belittle not just their political opponents but the very voters whom they are supposed to represent. The demonization of the weak by the strong shows the corrupting effect of power in its worst light and devalues politics.

Leaders in society have a far greater duty to behave as we all should, just because they have set themselves up as leaders. Yet in politics today, some of these may be the very cause of their own demise, as the people whose support they crave find that politicians' standards of behaviour are infuriating, belittle their messages and leave them looking to other ways of expressing their values. This may be doing considerable harm to our country. They should look at themselves before criticising others.

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