The other day I picked up on a post from Tom Watson MP relating to his list of Labour Party MP’s who have some form of web presence, be it site or blog.
He was asking if there was a better way to organise such a list and it got me thinking.
The last few weeks have been a time of reflection for me. I think what sparked it off was attending WordCampUK in Birmingham and running into this chap.
I think it’s easy to get into mired down in the party political confrontational aspects of the blogosphere but that detracts from what is possible. Not that it isn’t a good bit of fun from time to time but like other aspects of our democratic culture in the UK it represents a disproportionate element, both in profile and public perception of the political discourse than it actually does or indeed should.
That is not necessarily to blame politicians directly, our media feeds on conflict. Where great swathes of policy that affect our lives are really beaten out, in the Committee stages, they are next to never featured on the evening news.
They’re not featured because, well, they’re boring and this is where the problem lies. Politics is boring, especially when it’s done right.
Every now and then, usually after a poor turnout in (insert election) you get a raft of politicians of all colours cropping up saying we have to try and inspire the electorate to vote. There’s usually the obligatory reference to ‘young people’ because they just don’t do this whole voting thing and we obviously need to make it sexy and exciting for them.
The problem is, politics isn’t sexy and exciting. To go down that route of trying to make it appeal to people on the basis of preconsidered views of what they want is the wrong approach.
We shouldn’t go about trying to change ‘politics’ to tailor it to a post-ish MTV generation, constantly in need of new fresh ever changing messages because it simply isn’t sustainable in the long term and will contribute even more towards a disillusionment in politics as a whole.
We should be honest, say that yes, politics is boring, it’s not some simplistic sound bite that will make everything better, its policy, all with their pro’s and con’s that need thrashing out to achieve a better outcome. It doesn’t happen the next day or even the next week and guess what, you may not see the benefits for years or even a generation or two down the line but it’s important.
Returning to where this post started.
There’s a lot that can be done, whether it be directly through the body politic, through a political party, as a community, a group with shared interests or simply as an individual that can have a positive impact on society, the local community or another individual’s life as a whole.
That’s what really matters, not who ‘beat’ who at the dispatch box. I ‘do’ politics but if I’ve watched half a dozen PMQ’s in the last 15 years then that’s probably about it because it doesn’t matter and is a distraction from real politics.
Politics can be a strong catalyst for change but the political system falls into the trap of pandering to an agenda not set by itself, or indeed the people who elect our representatives but an agenda set out by those who’s vested interests are a population of willing consumers, cynical of those who seek to improve the lives of others and pandering to the simplest instincts of base selfishness.
There’s a lot that can be done and I’m really excited about how various uses of data manipulation and interaction can bring about positive change and even the littlest things or resources available contribute to that.
So back to that list of MP’s for the Labour Party that’s been doddering around Tom Watson’s site since the year dot. It doesn’t matter how it’s implemented, if it remains nothing more than a simple list of HTML links. If out there somewhere, there’s a few people that find it useful and it helps them to do something or aid a bit of work then it’s fine and worth keeping. Not so sure about the ‘teens’ section though, that probably is past its sell by date.