Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Westminster Village Idiots

Several of the people I follow on Twitter, including the Liberal Conspiracy blog, have suddenly become terribly agitated over the last 24 hours, because the controversial Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party, Lord Ashcroft, had paid for a major stake in a ‘news aggregator’ website I had never heard of called

Ashcroft’s involvement had led to a surge of resignations, beginning with chief political commentator of the Observer Andrew Rawnsley, of liberal and left-leaning members of a panel of 100 ‘opinion formers’ that the site surveys every morning and then publishes poll results about at the end of each day.

Frankly, I couldn’t give a toss where Ashcroft invests his money. What I have a bigger problem with is that notion that apparently sensible people like the Green Party's Siân Berry choose to buy into the flattery that they are the “best and most influential political brains in the country”.

I can imagine why right-wingers are obsessed about privileged status, recognition and making sure their name appears on the right list of ‘very important people: it’s something hard-wired into their politics. But why on earth supposedly progressive people desire to be part of a cabal of “Westminster insiders” is quite beyond me. Especially when the incestuous alliance of politicians, strategists and the media who make up the ‘Westminster bubble’ conduct politics in a manner that has so alienated voters, newspaper readers and the minority who still bother to watch political coverage on the television.

This is how the establishment is maintained: they coax you in, tell you how important you are and soon you start to believe your opinions are more important than the rest of the population. Precisely because the outlook of the closed circle dominates the news cycle, soon you start agreeing with and reinforcing the views other ‘opinion formers’ who are supposedly ‘important’ too and whose attitudes seem like the conventional wisdom.

Personally, I can't think of anything in life less appealing than association with the likes of Polly "One Last Chance for Labour" Toynbee or the Daily Mail political editor Ben Brogan. But hey, that's just me.

Then again, I don't think that resigning from a panel of Westminster 'opinion formers' is particularly brave or praiseworthy. Having nothing to do with such bullshit in the first place, however, is far more impressive.


Karen V said...

Sadly I have learnt recently there are quite a few people within the Green Party for whom personal advancement and glory and the riches of the establishment are more important than equality, diversity and preventing global chaos.

I think politics is a dead weight.

Great blog :-)

Kevin said...

Karen, I agree that politics 'can be' a dead weight - but it doesn't have to be and outside of the Westminster bubble, my experience is that is often inspiring and exhilirating.

Thanks for the compliment by the way!

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