Wednesday, July 11, 2007

As long as he has nice teeth

A lazy day today. It is not that I have nothing to do, it is just that I have little will to do it with. This is a common malaise; not just common to me, but common to all that use eclectic thinking as a way of life.

The most prominent of these types are the politicians and the media who together strive to lead/control our world as much as practically possible without getting shot.

Nick Robinson today has posted a short and neat article about Political Cross Dressing. He is referring to the issues of housing, education, health and welfare and how the two main parties of conceit, the Tories and Labour, seem to be unclear as to which colours they are wearing for which issue.

He is concerned, it appears, that there is worry within the Brown camp that the Boy David has stolen the moralistic high ground.

It is an interesting issue this. When does the practicality of running an institution such as a country become a fight for ideals rather than useful action? Nick points us helpfully to an article by the Guardian's Jonathan Freeland.  Jonathan is discussing the US political climate and argues, with some good reason, that US voters want their politicians to achieve things for their lives, but they want them achieved through heart-appealing rhetoric, rather than to be sold to them with statistics, tables and ven diagrams.

I have sympathy with that attitude; a friend of mine's mother once noted that she would vote for the man who had the nicest teeth. Actually, this is not such a whimsical ambition. It was not so much the nice smile as looking for the type of person who would care about having a nice smile. Any woman of a certain age will remember her mother liking a particular suitor for his neat and tidy dress sense. It was seen as a sign of success, of stability, of intelligence.

Likewise in politics, an MP or Senator who is seen to have an emotional bond with an issue can be, at least in the short term, more convincing a champion of that issue than someone who demonstrates a solid technical understanding of how it works.

However, I think this only works so far, and perhaps not as far in this country than in the US; despite my friend's mother's fixation on dentistry.  

Therefore, it may be a little premature for people to condemn our new First Lord, just because he is number orientated. Because the politics of passion is more complicated than simple speech making or crying in the right places. Blair got this one right - almost instinctively. While he was seen as being passionate about any subject, he ensured just enough grasp of the figures for people to feel he had a real grasp of the subject. Remember here that little criticism of Blair stuck prior to the Iraq war. Since the war, many people have decided that since he got that wrong, every thing else MUST be wrong. The logic is appalling, but there is nothing logical about politics; well, not if the press have any say in the matter.

And this is a good place to bring in the press. In Jonathan Freeland's piece he cites the book "The Political Brain" by Drew Western. Western spends pages and his psychology background, to explain that the political brain is an emotional brain. Well, we kind of know that! (I refer you to the dentures once again.) But this assumes that people only react using their political brain. He tested people by confronting them with political speeches; those that hit home most were the ones that appealed to the emotional receptors in our brain. However, people don't just think of politics when confronted with speech making. If you are cueing in hospital your political brain may crave for a solution, but your pragmatic brain would rather an answer to "how long will I have to wait."

And it is this second approach that, I believe, better describes peoples day to day aspiration need from the political establishment.

So, they may warm to David Cameron's tirade against the Broken Society, but when they need a house, they will love Gordon Brown for saying he will build a house exactly "here."

Davis Cameron has taken on Blair's impassioned role - but it is not the only major role in politics. The Son of the Manse with his pragmatic approach can also fulfil the nations need, but with one proviso - will the media, who love a passionate battle, let him?


Nobody Tags: , , ,

Technorati Tags: , , , ,