“Politicians are always announcing their intention to build stuff. Not houses or anything as boringly tangible as that; it's usually more abstract things like 'trust', or 'communities', or even, when they're feeling ambitious, 'a new society' or something.”
True. And then they almost inevitably fail to get the trust built, which then results in a little more trust being demolished. This seems an endemic problem to politics. But there’s an obvious solution: contract out the building work as a PFI scheme.
If private companies could bid for the contract to build trust, or a fairer future, or a young country, then their entrepreneurial spirit would work wonders against the obstacles that so bedevil politician-led trust-building projects. There’d be a clear market incentive for the contractors to deliver (pause to shudder at that word, if you will) on time and on budget, as any risks would be borne by them: failure would mean they’d forego the payments due as the politicians then leased back the completed trust/caring society/culture of respect.
It is vital to rebuild people’s faith in politics. And what better way to do that than by commissioning a consortium led by Jarvis or Mowlem to rebuild it?
Paulie picks up on Shuggy’s comments about politicians who claim to want to ‘listen’:
“Of course politicians will always promise to listen, and always pretend to be doing it already. But if they actually *do* start listening, they will find themselves on a fools errand, because there isn't really much by way of a decent conversation going on anywhere (outside of the usual rarefied little circles - and even then, it's mostly poisoned by The Ideology of Applied Adolescence(tm)).”
Very often, when people say things like “I just want politicians to listen”, which sounds almost infinitely reasonable, they mean something else entirely.
I don’t think they really have in mind a situation where they sit down with the relevant minister, explain their views, go through some clarifying questions, and then have the minister say: “Well, I understand that you want us to change policy A for policy B on grounds of X, Y and Z, and I accept that X and Y are fair points (although I disagree about Z because of F and G), but we’ve been going with policy A on grounds of P, Q and R. So I see what you’re getting at and I’m glad we had this chance to talk, but in the end we may have to agree to disagree.”
What they often really want is not so much listening as obedience. So when politicians promise to listen, even if they’re not being vapidly disingenuous, they’re bound to let people down.
The only solution would be to set up 60 million government departments, and make each person in the country Minister for Bert Jabbermore of 47 Piffle Street, Frothington (or whatever). They’d then be uniquely and exclusively responsible for listening to themselves and implementing their own ideas.
This is the way to build a politics of obedient listening. Interested parties should submit tenders for this project to the usual address.