I’ve posted in the about me section of my blog of my interest in politics but only completed one post on the subject. So I thought it would be a good idea to elaborate on the subject of my interest in politics and that of my approach to it, where it came from.
As a child my Dad and I would watch news and current affairs programmes on the tv and talk about what was being shown, he wouldn’t sit there and start educating as such it would go something like this some news item would come up and then he would just respond to something that was being reported and get irate with what he saw and I think I would then ask why, he would then inform me about his opinion related to the topic. I also remember journeys out when I was older in the car going somewhere or other or when he took me on the seemingly long journey back to school conversations around current affairs, politics, history or religion would come up, as a teenager and adult these would become heated. But I don’t want to go marching ahead here.
At both my primary and the first secondary school I attended we listened to a programme called in the news which explained news items in a way which children would understand and promote discussion. I thought this was a great way to introduce children to politics, I used to watch Newsround as well with the other children but it wasn’t as good as in the news or watching programmes with my Dad.
I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s both extremes of the loss Labour 70’s and the super rich 80’s depending on your view of the situation. I remember particularly the power cuts in the 70’s and early 80’s of the Thatcher years, the strikes, the Falklands war, newsreaders who were rather serious and the interest in nuclear disarmament. I didn’t have a particular view on these things at the time, but knew of them. The one thing I do remember during that particular period is my dad saying that under the torys the rich get richer and the poorer get poorer. For some odd reason I always thought he was a tory, strange I would think that as that would not be the kind of comment a tory voter would make. Maybe it was because we were the sort of family they would want to get their vote my Dad was the sort who believed in aspiration, he worked hard and climbed the career ladder, plus things he said that led me think he was a tory. However my mum and nan would talk about the politicians rather than the policies.
As I got into my teens I would still watch the news with the Berlin wall and communism apparently falling, during that time I started hearing people talking about the more left wing side of politics and that continued into my college years. This was my favourite period. When I was at college at the beginning of the 90’s I found myself with a group of friends who like my Dad were interested in the kind of things I was, we would sit at lunch times discussing American and European politics and some sharp disagreements would follow, however we were still great friends underneath the debates we were all feeling our way not just in our lives but in our concept of the world and the complex political arenas we were trying to navigate. I found these conversations stimulating and at times memorable and they were happy memories.
I had various small stints in the public sector completing work experience or short term temporary contracts which gave me a small window of the work of local councils. As a teenager I took GCSE Economics and both my BTECS were in Business and Finance, in these I came to understand the government’s influence over the economy. Interestingly having a faith impacted my political feelings, I would hear discussions that the torys would be the government Christians should want to have in power I suppose because of the security aspect and probably upholding Christian values at the time, equally I heard from the labour Christian left of upholding social justice and the poor etc. Over the years I would meet spatterings of Lib Dem supporters or equivalent, which I learnt to understand more many years later.
During the mid to late 90’s It was new labour and I was unemployed. I got involved with a local access group for disabled people which I thoroughly enjoyed.
In 2000, I got a job working for a media business during the years I worked at that company with people having strong political views, my job involved research I got to find out what kind of things our Government at that time was spending its money on, I was always having to read politically related documents, publications and media, we were supposed to be apolitical which I believe we were, but we did have some trouble getting hold of various government departments to write for us some of it I believe was politically motivated unfortunately. For instance we often had trouble getting hold of edit from Scotland, so the company had to open an office there, to raise our profile and credibility amongst certain Scottish Ministers.
Just before the torys came back into office the recession hit, which once the conservatives got in, started to have impact on the company I worked for. Due to public sector cuts, private companies were concerned work would dry up for the them as a result. The strange thing is much as both sides of the Government argue over spending both sides of the Government HAVE to spend money on public services, so there is always work for private companies. Now you may think that I’m blaming the Conservatives for the eventual collapse of the company I worked for, but I found the joint impact of a decision by the government and the media to report it had a negative impact on the business I worked for, I think there had been some cuts just before the conservatives came into office, but more pronounced when the torys got back in again if I remember correctly .
So I ended up out of work again my own frustration of having a dual disability and being unemployed and listening to the radio got me interested in politics again, hence I set up a group for visually impaired people to have a voice politically, but it’s not a political organisation rather it’s just a network for information and support for that particular endeavour.
Throughout my life I’ve seen the way politics has weaved in and out of my life in various ways and means. Although my Dad was the first to get me interested in politics the way he influenced me was more on my approach to politics rather than what he believed. One thing he said that was helpful and I’ve always took it on board is look at both sides and you will get the truth somewhere in the middle, the more I’ve looked at politics and the things I hear the more that seems true, the extremes concern me, when I look at the extremes of politics its either full of emotionalism or people who have irrational views that don’t have much grounding and don’t want to hear anything that’s not their point of view. As one friend said recently the funny thing about extremes is that they change over time. At one time one view was acceptable now would be considered extreme or vice versa. My other approach is just to listen and seek to understand where someone comes from, even if their view is vastly different to mine . To me different political parties have their strengths and weaknesses, this is where for example my contrary nature comes in, who do I really want in power, a government that wants to promote a strong economy where jobs are a plenty and a better standard of living or another that promises to take care of you when you are ill, or another which seeks a more consensual form of democracy. Ultimately I’ve struggled to vote before because what I may want locally may not be what I want nationally or vice versa.
Ultimately I get tired of politics when words are often the measure of a politicians worth, not their actions, unfortunately that’s what they have to do to get the vote talk their way into a job, I suppose that’s a cynical view but there’s truth there, how can we really judge a politicians worth really, by their words or by their actions, as words can be deceptive but so can actions be misconstrued. All I know is that I still enjoy listening to the debates on how to deal with difficult issues and vote on who will represent the things I care about the most locally, to watch how politicians respond to unexpected crisis. To me a leader is only as good as their backbenchers as they have the word on the ground and have the best influence to make change.
To end my rather long post a quote that is valuable about any leader is this by John Maxwell
“People don’t want to know how much you know until they know how much you care”
I think that about sums up my politics.