Politicians are people?

I'm a fresher, born and bread in a place that the Liberals forgot (Accrington). I came to Aberystwyth fully knowing that it was a LD seat with a sizable number of LD councillors placed all over Ceredigion. I am admit, however, that I hadn't quite grasped the concept in the title. To me, pre-Aber, politicians and especially elected officials were some form of superhero, held aloft on great wings made from ballot papers - a copy of On Liberty in one hand and their latest speech in the other.

The nice thing is, they're actually not.

I've met Mark Williams, MP for Ceredigion. He's a really enthusiastic guy with a lot of convictions and a really good speaker as well. On the Lib Dem social night on Wednesday I got to talk to, at great length, the mayor of Cardigan, Mark Cole (who has basically convinced me to go to Welsh Conference...) and discovered that he too is actually a human being. Looking back, I really wonder why, in over a year of talking on LDV to people from across the party, I hadn't grasped this concept earlier. I think I have one or two theories, and one of them is quite an important thought.

Firstly, you have the simple fact that I'm an idealist, and the fact that being in Accrington isolates you from politics all together like some black hole absorbing light means that that was exacerbated. But the most important theory is that it's to do with the media. We see politicians of all shapes and sizes - some writing articles, some on Question Time or Any Questions?, some talking to some random journalist about the latest scandal or development. You don't see on a regular basis, though, them going with a few friends for a pint, or talking about the latest football results or doing a whole manner of other things. That's why when we see, for example, Lembit Opik doing Bargain Hunt, we immediatly comment, despite the fact that hundreds of other well known faces and thousands of people have gone on the show.

What is the impact of this view that we appear to have grown that politicians are seperate, better, than the rest of us? Obviously, it is bad for candidate selection, but is it more than that? Perhaps as media coverage of politicians increase, people become switched off whilst jokes are made about politics being showbiz for ugly people. Perhaps we need to have a serious look at how we portray our representatives as a whole and convince society that these people are not superheros from another planet but actually just teachers or students who just decided to have a go.

PS: Apologies to the two Marks for singling you out!

4 comments:

Rankersbo said...

It's a point that needs making.

There seems to be an idea that politicians are different from "ordinary" people, but the usual way it manifests itself is not that people think they're better than "the rest of us".

John Alexander said...

Hope you don't mind, but I've posted this on Facebook - It's not often somebody actually says what you have!

John Thornton

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