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British Politics

The problem with our elected representatives

It’s hard to escape the 24 hour news cycle that attracts attention on social media especially popular meme accounts on Instagram. Now, more than ever, it seems as though every week, or every few days, there appears to be another politician in the limelight for something that’s gone wrong for them such as their conduct – or lack of.

I think there’s two intertwined problems that contribute to this.

The first derives from the ‘celebritisation’ of politicians. I’m using the term broadly but referring to those politicians who treat their role – as an elected representative – almost as though they’re a reality TV star, resulting in a strong fanbase on social media. I would argue this enables them to reduce the level of scrutiny they’re subjected too when something in their job, or personal life goes wrong. Part of the reason is “many politicians can barely see beyond the next election, and dance to the tune of the latest opinion poll or tweet. Governments typically prefer quick fixes, such as putting more criminals behind bars rather than dealing with the deeper social and economic causes of crime.” Gone are the days when politicians thought about the long term.

This is a real threat to our democracy and is partially the result of politicians no longer planning for what they’d like to see in the long term, for their constituency and country.

In an ideal world, the long-term planning instinct that 20th Century politicians had wouldn’t be lost in the 21st Century. Instead, long term planning – whilst it might not be favourable at first – would be so beneficial, especially as politicians appear to be spending more time in schools and engaging with students. the perfect place to plant the seed that the work they’re doing today is genuinely for a brighter future.

The current state of politics certainly gets more people – who typically wouldn’t be interested in politics – interested in what’s happening in the Houses of Parliament, but everything that’s going wrong just demonstrates politicians are only in "it" for themselves. Meme pages on Instagram are sharing the poorest behaviour, attitudes, and mannerisms of today’s politicians, which is incredibly sad to see as the people elected are supposedly the best representatives of our individual constituencies.

Politicians consistently talk about “needing to do better” and inquiries emphasis missed opportunities if more thought had gone into things. Perhaps the way politicians do better is by focusing less on everyone’s opinion and instead sitting down – with colleagues on both sides of the House and working out what they want Britain to look like in 20 years’ time – for example.

Consensus politics must make a return if we want good quality politicians and increase the trust that the general public have in the government.

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