A little bit of politics

This article by Anatole Kaletsky mentions the effect of rapid and accurate polling data on democratic governance: they leak/announce a potential policy, we say what we think about it in an opinion poll (or through lobby groups), they change the policy accordingly, etc. This situation seems to have been influenced also by commerce which tells us that we have the right not only to choose what we want but to demand it.

This is actually at odds with how we are governed, which is by representative democracy: we choose who will make the decisions for us. That shouldn’t be the end of our contact with government but ultimately we don’t make the decisions, they do. When you think about all the decisions that need to be made this is surely a good thing. But when unpopular wars are fought, banks keep paying bonuses, and MPs fiddle their expenses, the idea seems less sound. As Churchill said, “Democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”

We complain about the lack of conviction politicians but the complaints are even louder if someone expresses an opinion that we disagree with. It feels as if both main party’s answer to the question, ‘What do you believe in?’ is, ‘What would you like me to believe?’ And though that may have been what we asked for, we don’t like it now we’ve got it.