Anyone who doesn’t enjoy politics would be well advised to avoid today’s papers. Not only is there the masses of detailed analysis of the election results that always follows an election – loads of wonderful pie charts, tables, and multi-coloured maps – but there’s also story after story about hung parliament discussions and possibilities.
I would, though, recommend one piece in particular: Suzanne Moore’s column in the Mail on Sunday. Moore stood as a candidate at this election, in Hackney North and Stoke Newington. She is a little coy about her performance (she got 285 votes, or 0.6%), but the piece is worth reading for the insights that standing gave her about politics:
To which, the only response is: welcome to politics.
It is easy enough to watch The Thick of It and read spin-doctors’ diaries and look at blogs and imagine endless sophisticated strategising. It turns out to be all leaflets and trudging and stubby pencils and rows of people counting paper under strip lighting. It’s not about grand policy statements but listening to people rant about parking. Or the arms trade. Or their burst pipes. Or their rents. Or Afghanistan. Politicians, I now realised, over-promise because somehow punters ask them.
Perhaps all columnists in major papers – especially those who frequently pontificate about the political process – should be made to go through a similar experience, so that they understand what it is that they write about.
And yes, the same would apply to politics academics.
Professor Philip Cowley