Thursday 8 May 2014

The death of ideas based politics

Loyalty to tribes, not ideas
I keep seeing the expression "UKIP supporters" in comment pieces. Unwittingly, they have hit the nail on the head there. We are no longer in the realms of politics. We are in the realms of football club support.

Each team has a tribe - who wear uniform hats and scarves, display unquestioning loyalty, will be occasionally be critical of the team manager, but their devotion is forever unwavering. "Ukip til I die!" they will chant. Politics is the new premiership football.

And then we have the UAF element - another band of tribal followers - who send its football hooligan element to start trouble at a Ukip home match. UAF are the new Leeds United thugs - and it can't be very long before we see a Ukip sticker album and Nigel Farage Top Trumps cards.

The media's role in this is no different from the facile Colemanballs sports punditry - to fill air time and column space, to create drama, friction and conflict where none exists. We see slow-motion replays to add dramatic effect to what is essentially a mundane non-entity event; - One that is of no interest but to those who are directly involved or concerned with it: They who dwell inside the M25, whose souls are nourished by the warm glow of belonging and kinsmanship - to be involved in something larger than their own empty, mundane existences.

It becomes their world, their social life, their reason for being, but all inside the cosy delusion that their efforts are of consequence - and the sunlit uplands they have been promised are only over the next hill.

But we are not seeing the politics of ideas. We are not seeing competing philosophies - we are seeing posturing and positioning for recognition and validation. We have labels of "anti-establishment", we have "anti-fascists", we have "anti-EU", we have "anti-immigration" and we have "anti-racism" and blah blah blah. They are selling us brand identity. This is all about identity and belonging - the basest human tribal instinct. Who you align yourself with identifies you as either the persecuted, the righteous or the plucky underdog.

But who among them is selling an idea? Who offers us a vision? Who offers us a plan? Who among them has a roadmap to something better? Nobody. Leaving the EU is a just a vague technocratic, conservative manoeuvre that changes little.

And while the media and political inner circle endlessly debate the rise and rise and rise of Ukip, the rise of a much bigger constituency is ignored - those of us who simply don't have a dog in the fight, don't need to belong, and would rather prefer it if you all shut up until you come back with something worth voting for!

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