Tuesday, 3 February 2015

I'm out of touch, you're out of time…

As well as being the title of an immortal Hall & Oates song, 'out of touch' remains one of the most frustrating, facile and ultimately meaningless insults in political discourse.

I mean, why bother to argue against the points your political opponents put forward, and the policies they espouse, when you can just discredit them as people in the eyes of the electorate by describing them as 'out of touch' – proud members of an èlite professional political class* so cosseted and so far removed from 'ordinary life' that they have no idea what 'normal' people go through?

Of course, the whole thing is predicated on the idea that everyone wants their politicians to be ordinary and just like them – personally, I can't think of anything worse – but more to the point, it is complete nonsense.

The Daily Mail highlights how 'professional politicians'* like Labour leader Ed Miliband have come under fire for never having had a 'real job' (whatever that means).  'How can a politician hope to run the country properly if he's never even had a real job like real people? He doesn't know what things are like for us! No one fully understands life until they've worked in a shop!' goes the argument.  Unfortunately, by that logic, those of us who've never worked in politics have no idea what life is like for politicians, and therefore have no authority to comment on the things they say or do either.

It's time we stopped pretending that 'politics' and 'the real world' exist on two totally separate planes, completely removed from each other.  Politics doesn't exist in a bubble; it is a vital part of a functioning society.  The decisions of politicians directly affect the rest of us – and what happens in business, in the charitable sector, in the church, etc. also has an impact on politics.  Everybody's experiences differ, but we all live in 'the real world' – and plenty of politicians work as hard at their jobs as you do at yours.  Now can we please talk about policies, instead of who's worked as a milkman or a ferret-trainer?

* As I have remarked before, there is an ongoing crusade against so-called 'professional politicians' – who are considered axiomatically bad, for some reason – but what's the alternative?  Amateur politicians?  Yeah, they sound competent…

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