Party politics is one of those immensely frustrating things that we sadly can’t live without.
It’s not the idea of opposing sides bouncing ideas off each other which I find disheartening, it’s the utterly pathetic petty tribalism that accompanies it like flies around the proverbial.
There’s a wonderful quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” In Johann Lamont’s speech at the Scottish Labour Party conference last weekend, she name checked Alex Salmond 11 times, and the SNP twice that amount. In March’s SNP conference, Alex Salmond managed to bring Labour into his speech 17 times.
We could conclude that this shows that Scottish Labour and the SNP have elected fools as leaders of their respective parties – I’d agree, but for different reasons. This kind of small mindedness isn’t exclusive to party leadership, or even parties: go on twitter, search for #indyref, and look at the pointless point-scoring arguments used in an attempt to discredit the opposing campaign.
One tweet reads, “I miss the positive arguments for the union from Labour. Hang on scratch that. I’ve yet to hear one.” This, by all means, is one of the most sensible tweets I’ve ever seen on the issue. I recently tweeted a joke about how First Minister Salmond’s phrase “Scolympian” went down like a lead brick, only to be told by an anonymous account to “Drop the self-loathing.”
Then there’s the infamous ‘cyber-nats’ – best known for their borderline abusive behaviour to anyone perceived to be making a slight against them, the SNP, or the yes campaign. I wonder how many lost votes they’re responsible for?
Another tweet on the #indyref thread saw Labour leader Ed Miliband described as, “…A vacuous, managed mannequin devoid of all charisma!” Okay, but what about his policies on finding work for the unemployed?
I suppose the biggest numpties of the lot in this argument has to be everyone that went to a party when Thatcher died three weeks ago. If you were one of those people, I have some tips for you:
Firstly, you’re sick. Celebrating someone’s death is not clever. No one deserves to die, no matter how heinous their actions were. Out there, were people (granted, probably not many) who were trying to mourn the death of someone they loved, yet also comprehend the fact that you were dancing in the streets about it.
Secondly, you’ve done the left of this country a hell of a lot of damage. I turned up to spectate at one of these parties, and all you managed to do was embarrass yourselves royally. Guys, there’s nothing that really says you understand the plight of our poorest more than when you spray champagne around George Square. Same goes for chanting “Maggie! Maggie! Maggie! Deed! Deed! Deed!” or “bucky and eccies when Thatcher dies!” Bizarrely, even “f*** the police” was chanted by some of you – why?! They weren’t responsible for the destruction of industrial Britain.
Go on, do something constructive? Y’know, like campaigning to make sure no-one who idolises her will ever lead Britain again…?
The problem, you see, is that there is too much emphasis on the person, not enough on the policy. It was a point highlighted in a recent poll – the public say they don’t know enough information to make an informed decision on how to vote in September next year. Yet neither Yes Scotland nor Better Together seems very concerned by this, preferring more just to boast about who supports them, or simply slag off the opposition. On Yes Scotland’s facebook page, four of the first five posts do just that – on Better Together’s page, it’s all five.
Politicians, their parties, and campaigns would do well to inform the electorate more – rather than just attacking those that don’t agree with them. And they wonder why people in politics get such a poor rap.