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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Let us make our politics less sanitised and a little more dangerous.

Blog posts are ephemeral, but occasionally it can be worth revisiting one already written. Here is an update of one from a year ago and written after the General Election.

As a teenager, I recall visiting Downing Street and putting my hand on the famous door. A tangible connection to history perhaps. Returning in my thirties, I was confronted with a wrought iron security gate. I felt saddened at the restriction.

'So what?' you might ask. Well today, we see a street turned into a giant outside broadcast backdrop for the media circus. A metaphor for the distance between the electorate and the political elite, with the Fourth Estate filling the vacuum and filtering what we are to know. We have a political disconnect and the geography of our most famous street exemplifies what has gone wrong. Politicians are now physically more secure behind these gates, but insulated from the approbation and heckling of the public.

The distance between government and the public is as great as ever. The former's misreading over the public perception of forest sales, the Big Society and banking bonuses are cases in point.

The political elite needs to meet real people with all the unpredictability that comes with it. Stop using audiences as patsy backdrops and contrived photo ops to legitimate "consultation". Now that would be real communication. AV electoral reform may signal a return to hustings, MPs widening their appeal, decent oratory, unsanitised debate and politics which is more lively and unpredictable. Now that would be a way of getting more people to vote.

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