The Nature of Politics

It is rare that I can agree with David Blunkett.
But the following appeared in today’s Daily Mail (
“This sense of decay at the heart of democracy is profoundly troubling to me, since I have always had a powerful belief in the political process. … It is 50 years since Professor Bernard Crick’s classic work, In Defence Of Politics, was published. One of his central arguments was that the political process is bound to be messy, full of setbacks, compromises and failures precisely because it is trying to reconcile different opinions and the contradictions of human nature.
That messiness was often the cause for frustration, even despair, Crick admitted, but we should never abandon democracy as a result of it.
His other main argument was that democracy serves as a vital check on the power of market and vested interests. Engagement in politics, he said, was essential to ensure commerce and organisations served the public rather than achieving dominance. Half-a-century later, in our age of mass globalisation, as capital can be shifted across the world at a touch of a button, it’s an argument that’s more relevant than ever.
It is a fallacy to think we could run our society successfully without elected politicians. How would competing claims for money be reconciled without them? How would tax rates be decided or budgets settled? How would major services be reformed?
The political process provides the only credible, fair way of making such decisions.
The governance of a nation has to take account of myriad other factors, like fairness, compassion, resources, history, timing and public support.
Civic society cannot live by managerialism alone. As the great Welsh Labour politician Aneurin Bevan once said: ‘Politics is the language of priorities.’
And at least politicians are accountable for their actions and can be chucked out if the public does not like them. Yet according to opinion polls, there is a growing belief that our country could do without politicians and could be run by technocrats”.
And perhaps this explains why some of us believe that running a council on the basis of “no overall control” means that someone else or some other people are in control but they are not elected nor are they directly accountable to the electorate.

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