The next general election is being lined up. Despite the latest Prime Minister’s assertions that this is not the case, regional visits are being made, cabinet members are being seen to look interested at factories and money, we were told we didn’t have, is being given away in a flurry of rash promises.
This election is going to be different however. This time the public will get to choose people to represent them as opposed to those politicians that have been holding the whole country back from the promised sunny uplands.
The fact that the people are going to be politicians and the politicians are people has been conveniently sidestepped.
Such an approach is straight from the playbook of populism, an ideology as defined by Cas Mudde in 2004, that separates society into two antagonistic groups: the pure and true people and the corrupt elite. The fact that the pure and true people are often more corrupt than the elite is also papered over.
This is a dangerous path. As Jamie Bartlett noted in his book, The People vs Tech, ‘If the Brexit and Scottish independence votes showed anything, it’s that single issue plebiscites: a) don’t actually settle questions and b) are extremely divisive because they force people into binaries rather than seeking compromise.’
Politics has become a religion. We are being separated into the true believers and the heathens. Non believers are called out as traitors. The people are crying out for a knight on a white horse to lead us through this crusade.
As Hannah Arendt noted in her book, The Origins of Totalitarianism, ‘While the people in all great revolutions fight for true representation, the mob always will shout for the ‘strong man’, the ‘great leader’.’
Surely we are too wise and clever to see through such a ruse. Let’s see.