When I look at the vast majority of our politicians, I struggle to relate to any of them. Last week, I watched mercifully small amounts of the Labour Party conference and found myself being lectured to by either the affluent well educated chattering classes or powerful ‘representatives’ of the workers who appeared to be representing themselves first as well as their own vested interests. None of them bore any resemblance to people I meet in my ordinary little world. The Magic Grandpa himself, Jeremy Corbyn, who appears to be worshipped by a sizeable cult following for no obvious reason, spoke of a world I didn’t recognise. Few of his comrades spoke in my language. There was little more than rhetoric and sloganising. It’s even worse this week.
Quite how Labour does not lead Theresa May’s woeful Conservatives would be astonishing if the explanation was not so obvious: Corbyn is useless. In a permanently near empty conference hall in Birmingham, part-funded, it transpires with the utmost irony, with EU money, presents us with the living dead. The Tory Party does not debate anything: it hears speeches from ministers and on the last day The Great Leader. If the comrades speak another language, then the Tories are even worse.
Yesterday, the conference hero was the narcissist egomaniac Boris Johnson and he was only speaking at a fringe meeting. He made a lengthy, incoherent rambling speech that was cheered to the rafters by the old white men who have taken this country to the brink of a cliff from which they wish to take the country. Johnson, of all politicians, offers the country nothing, literally nothing, in hope or vision for his only ambition is to become prime minister. He is, though, the extreme example of the vacuousness surrounding our politics.
We know the problems in Britain. We know the NHS is moving towards an existential crisis. We know that social care is in crisis. We know that police numbers have been cut to the bone. We know that schools are massive underfunded. We know that many millions live in the gig economy, exist on poverty wages, suffer zero hours contracts; are left behind. When Boris Johnson speaks, he offers them nothing. But when Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell speaks, he addresses only the affluent middle class blue collar workers by promising them part ownership of their employers. This is irrelevant to those who are at or near the bottom.
No one is talking about how hard it is to get a doctor’s appointment, how hard it is to obtain mental health treatment, how unlikely it is that a dramatically shrunken police force can solve crimes, how the old, the sick and infirm have all but been abandoned. When Theresa May describes post Brexit Britain as being “full of promise” she is either dishonest, deluded or mad, or possibly all three. No one serious believes she isn’t out of her depth. However, the polls suggest overwhelmingly that the punters who elect governments feel the same about Jeremy Corbyn with very good reason.
Our leaders, in name only, speak to their immediate following, a cult following if you are Jeremy Corbyn who is a journeyman backbencher with no leadership qualities at all. They don’t talk to me: they talk at me. They don’t answer the questions answered on my behalf by journalists which strikes me as completely unacceptable since they are meant to be working on our behalf. May, Corbyn – so many of them. Slippery, evasive, liars.
I don’t ask: “What can you do for me?” I ask: “What can you do for our country?” How can you end injustice, make the country fairer and more equal, extend meritocracy. But today’s leaders, of all colours, speak in riddles, in generalisations. It’s all about political advantage, it’s all about spin. Not good enough.
Today, Theresa May will address her conference but really she will be addressing the country. It will be mostly bullshit, as usual; an exercise in manipulation and a few cheap headlines. Tomorrow, life will go on, unchanged for most people. And an unchanged Britain is a Britain which is dying.