I’m not sure anyone is feeling fond of politicians at the moment (unless, of course, you happen to be related to one). And amid the bickering and plotting and back-stabbing, it’s perhaps not surprising that today’s elections are expected to have the lowest turn-out yet. But if we want better politicians we have to become better voters. We won’t improve politics by stopping their bird baths and barbecues; we’ll improve politics by our own participation, and by making the job meaningful again.
Because right now, who’d want to be an MP? Tit for tat politics, apathetic voters and obsessive control from the centre have gradually eroded any sense of real influence. As Parliament has dwindled in power, political careers are made not in the Commons but in the media, which too often confuses importance with self-importance, and character with personality.
It’s not about the money. Politics will never and should never be able to compete with banking for salary. But it must and can again compete on satisfaction, achievement and the knowledge of a life well lived. Party leaders can help with this — if they truly have the will — but it starts with us. Woody Allen once said that, “Eighty percent of success is showing up”. We can either accept that politics has failed, or we can start out for renewed success today.