Could Chris Grayling have joined Boris Johnson and John Prescott in the small group of politicians who are willing to stray from the party line and say something resembling an opinion? Whilst the shadow home secretary’s comments were ill-informed, wrongheaded, prejudiced not to mention promoting an illegal discrimination, it was the whiff of honesty coming from a politician that really took me back. For here was someone willing to say something contrary to the Party line, something on which he can be judged. In Britain at least, we are used to half-cocked denials, a promise for a future that will never arrive, and identikit policies, rather than frank and honest exchange between parties who have more than just a titular difference.
Candidates are whipped into place behind the party leader so there can be one clear ‘brand message’, one diluted obfuscated ideology, one wipe-clean face who can sell their politics to the ‘consumers’. In pitching their Parties to the median voter, they have subsequently erased everything they stood for previously; the work of Attlee, Foot and Thatcher has now dissolved into vanilla politics. So what if Labour has links to the Trade Unions, where do you think the Party originated? Be proud of that and do not try to dismiss it like an adolescent tries to disown their parents. So what if the Tories are bankrolled by millionaire businessmen? Stand up and say that these people have made the country what it is today (financially bankrupt with a soupçon of waywardness). So what if no one really knows what the Lib Dems stand for? Create a position and stick to it.
Politicians are wondering why people are disenchanted with politics, well it is simply that much like sex with a supermodel, there is nothing to hang on to . Politics is now a defensive game, with everyone constantly thinking about how to not get hit in the nards. In order to gain people’s trust and attention, those in charge have to differentiate themselves from one another, to say what they really feel. It is impossible for one person to be as interminably dull as the average politician appears to be, everyone has at least some opinion of national events, and if they start expressing it, people will respect them for it. The opinions given in interviews derive from the Beige School of Politics (with the motto: ‘Where True Feelings Should Be Neither Seen Nor Heard’), as now do their faces or is it just me who think that Dave Cameron and Nick Clegg look similar. Both look slightly dead behind the eyes, but it is only Cameron who looks as if it you stuck a pin in him he would deflate, possibly leaving us with Thatcher. At least Gordon Brown’s jowls set him apart.
So they need to grow a pair (breasts or balls) and go out and start campaigning. There needs to be at least three clear visions for the country, yet from the two main parties we have one vision that is dressed up differently; it’s a choice between teal and turquoise. For instance no one will get hot under the collar with Labour’s plans to alter the way rail tickets are sold; yes that does yank my chain like everyone else, but is that really the level of thinking you are approaching an ill economy with?
So to return, Chris Grayling is giving the voters something to latch on to: his lack of comfort around gay people. So we should all thank him for that, he’s made the voter’s task much easier. But for the rest of the politicians, their cookie-cutter sound bites would not be out-of-place coming from a middle-manager in the Stoke Newington branch of NatWest. People need to realise that politics is worth fighting about once more, that not everything is as cut and dry as it is made out to be, and that the people can make a difference. It’s time to cry out: NO MORE MEDIOCRITY.