• Sat. Dec 2nd, 2023

The Sorry State of Politics

ByFreddie Shaw

May 23, 2022
The Palace of Westminster lit up at night

Like many people, I am finding myself increasingly disillusioned with politics. When it comes to our country’s leadership, our two-party system presents us with two pitiful options. First there is Boris Johnson and his cabal of remorseless liars, desperately trying to scrape back some kudos after a disastrous two and a half years in power. Then, on the other side, you have a bunch of hypocrites led by their vacuous leader, Keir Starmer. Their chronic lack of charisma and perspective in the face of such feeble governance means I doubt they will ever get a look in at No.10. Neither side really seems to be putting forward any realistic solutions to soaring inflation and the damaging cost of living crisis which is hitting people so hard. This is just one example of incompetence at the highest level. Put to a general election, we are left with a difficult choice.

Cut to me walking down Nicholson Street on an overcast Thursday afternoon, on my way to have a few cold ones at the pub. As I make my way there, I come across a stall selling newspapers and handing out various fliers. I approach, and am interested to discover it is the International Socialist Alternative’s publication, imaginatively named Socialist Alternative. Perhaps it will contain some truly alternative and creative solutions to the problems we face, as the name would suggest, while being an enjoyable and informative read. I pay the £2 ‘solidarity price’ and make my way. After settling down with a pint I open the paper and begin to flick through.

Unfortunately, I was left disappointed. Instead of finding ‘alternative’ ideas to the problems we currently face, I was bombarded by tired, anachronistic leftist ideas. The article that especially stood out for all the wrong reasons was one on the state of the economy. In the face of growing wealth inequality and climate catastrophe, it made for dull reading. Instead of offering nuanced ideas and solutions, it more closely resembled Michael Foot’s 1983 Labour Party manifesto, more commonly known as ‘the longest suicide note in history’. Fusty and archaic socialist rhetoric – such as the need for nationalisation of industry to create a ‘commanding heights’, and the seizure of private property – left me feeling uninspired. The writer even asserted that publicly-owned entities need not pursue profit, making them more desirable than their private alternative, which is simply wrong. These ideas had lost their appeal by 1983, so it seems somewhat futile to dig them up, dust them down and try to push them forward again. They remind me of a beaten-up old Volvo that somehow continues to work, even after around 200,000 miles of driving, albeit pumping out black dust and spluttering like an old smoker. 

The most ridiculous claim in the paper however, was made in an article about Ukraine. The writer claimed that the West’s support of Ukrainians ‘is actually all about the imperialist interests of the Western capitalist powers’ and that opposition to Putin ‘is thus in the interests of working people nowhere’. I’m also sure that having your house bombed to pieces isn’t strictly in your interests either but let’s ignore that for now because somehow, somewhere there’s a capitalist plot afoot! 

Upon finishing the paper, I realised I was in desperate need of another drink.
The realisation that no avenues of the political system really offer anything for you is certainly a melancholic one. I have known this for some time with the mainstream political parties who seem to have consistently ignored and disregarded their electorate for years. However, when so-called ‘alternative’ options offer nothing but ideas that were perhaps revolutionary in the late 19th century, but more or less unapplicable in the present, you realise your avenues are waning. The lack of choice and feasible leadership, especially for a young person, leaves you with a looming sense of powerlessness and disenfranchisement. The young are criticised for not engaging enough with politics but with this sorry state of affairs do you really blame us? Come on politics, sort yourself out.

Image courtesy of ‘UK Parliament’ via Flickr