It’s party conference season time, the last before the general election, and the main political parties try to discuss what they perceive are the big issues of the day, but in this, very cynical, anti-political climate, is anybody listening?
In the distant past, the party conferences were one of the few places that members could gather together and discuss ideas on how to change British society. They were able to put forward motions to the party leaders and to vote on them. There was a lot of television and radio coverage, and national newspapers would set aside a few pages each day. However, nowadays, debates and motions are now tightly controlled by the party leaders. Any off-the-record joke or comment by any member is seized upon by the media as being ‘off message’, and their ability to get their message across has been greatly reduced.
This awful state of affairs has accelerated of the last ten years or so. Why bother to watch any of the party conferences in order to be bored to death by Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown drone on about the state of the economy, or Conservative leader David Cameron whining about how he wants to be like Tony Blair, or even the Lib Dem’s Nick Clegg, claiming that his party was different from the other two, except that very few commentators take him seriously at all? Talk about a cure for insomnia! Meanwhile, as the popularity of the main parties drain away, the effect on this is that extremist organisations, often led by people with either big mouths or fat wallets, try to fill the gaping void, or more likely, many disillusioned people will opt out of politics altogether.
With a general election coming up next year, there are so many issues that need to be discussed openly, and decisions that need to be made….for example, on immigration, the banking system, climate change, electoral reform, and the war in Afghanistan. However, they will hardly get a proper mention on any conference hall, or even, unless I’m mistaken, at any of the ‘fringe’ meetings.
I have long stopped watching these conferences on TV or following them in the newspapers because the parties have simply stopped speaking to us…. the people of the UK.