I do love politics. I don’t necessarily want to get involved, but I enjoy dissecting the communication messages from different parties, analysing their discourse. I believe it can sometimes get some great things done. I also think that it affects all of our lives. You may not consider yourself political, but it affects the price of fuel in your car, whether your street has lighting or whether your rubbish collections are weekly or fortnightly (or not at all?) – so I like to keep informed.
There’s a difference between politics of negotiation, compromise and getting things done; and political games. Sometimes politicians get so caught up in point scoring that they forget that they’re actually there to do a job.
Take Margaret Thatcher’s funeral. Like anyone else, someone dying is a sad thing. No matter how I felt about her policies, she was someone’s mum, aunt, grandmother. She was, at the end of the day, brilliant and frail and talented and flawed like the rest of us. Protests were inevitable as her policies had hurt a great many people. But the way that Conservatives have tried to milk her passing for every bit of political capital they can get has been unedifying. Alistair Campbell is no stranger to political games himself, but his blog on the funeral arrangements is illuminating. He describes how David Cameron ramped up the funeral arrangements, which had been long-established:
Whatever the possible reasoning, the fact is that it is the break with tradition and precedent, the recall of Parliament, and the nature of the funeral arrangements – effectively a State funeral by stealth, without full Parliamentary approval – which have politicised the death in a way that was not necessary and risks becoming horribly divisive, that word so often associated with Mrs Thatcher’s style and policies.
It’s all over now, anyway, and apparently the polls don’t appear to reflect any bounce for the Prime Minister in the wake of the scramble to claim Thatcher’s memory. I can’t help feeling though, that yet again Osborne and Cameron have gone for strategy over decency and common sense, needlessly politicising an already divisive issue.