One of the hardest things you might ever do is confront somebody with the fact that they can’t be trusted. We find a way only when the stakes are high and we have no other good options. Right now, we need to confront the political class with that simple truth; we don’t trust them. It’s the thing that voters most agree on. It’s what we tell pollsters whenever they ask.
Sacking governments on election day doesn't do the trick for us, because we sack one party only by rehiring the party that we sacked a few years back. We need to confront the political class as a whole, not punish one side by rewarding the other.
A confrontation of that kind begins with our knowing that the political class has white-anted the rules that keep it in check, and that the process can be reversed. Rules can be changed - and changed again - again and again - until we have a political rulebook that works for us. Here is a 2-step exercise in awareness. Click first to nominate just one chapter of the rulebook.
Click again to select the rule change that would do the most good. Spoilt for choice, are we not?
Repeat the sequence for two or three chapters, to see that being spoilt for choice is exactly the point; we have so many options. This pile of possibilities is what the confrontation is about, for all of the political class to acknowledge, for none to deny.
Confrontation works best face to face. Some journalists get the opportunity and are always looking for an angle – an audience that wants answers to a question. For confronting questions about deep distrust and shallow rules, we can be that knowing and expectant audience. We can watch as journalists give the wordless look that confronts so well. It goes like this: you could have fixed this by now … I know that … you know that … you know that I know … … so just get it done? … FFS!
There is more at stake than our wounded pride. Without public trust, repeated political failure becomes almost a design feature. Voters manage their distrust by lowering their expectations, withholding resources and refusing to engage. Politicians manage their impotence with cynicism, deception and secrecy – a short step from corruption. The system manages by dodging hard decisions, denying the challenges, gambling with our futures and exposing us to crisis and breakdown. The unfinished business of the political class overloads our elections, confuses the public conversation, tests our patience. It’s getting dangerous.
Thanks for your interest.