THE NEW POWER GENERATION

GumbyIt shouldn’t really come as much of a surprise that the fresh intake of young MPs that entered the House in the wake of last May’s General Election contains a large contingent of airhead dipsticks. They are the first full wave of newcomers elected to Parliament that belong to the social media generation, the first to have lived their entire adult lives online and to have obsessively indulged in the juvenilia that constitutes debate, the first to represent the extended adolescence that now grinds to a halt around forty. They are the first to have graduated from university when academia had ceased to be the route to intellectual expansion and had instead become an inclusive alternative to the minimum wage, providing frivolous courses and worthless degrees for classroom clowns. They are the first to have had their political eyes opened in an ideologically bankrupt age where savage cynicism renders nothing below the belt, an age without principles, conviction or conscience. Many have little or no memory of the pre-Blair and pre-Campbell Westminster landscape, where there was often substance beneath style, and the best were defined more by what they stood for than what they were against.

Of course, there has always been a sizeable chunk of MPs who are in it to feather their nests as well as a minority on both sides whose reasons for standing are motivated by a genuine desire to effect change for the better. But if the Commons exists to represent the people, it’s no wonder that some of the latest recruits are as dim as those they represent.

In an ideal world, the left and the right would be personified by heavyweights along the lines of Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer, whose clash on US TV’s Dick Cavett talk show in the early 70s stands as a timely reminder of how celebrated public figures have dumbed down beyond comprehension. Compare it not only to a contemporary edition of Graham Norton’s equivalent programme, but to the kind of gleefully lowbrow thought processes of those looking to gain access to the political arena today. An MPs hinterland once encompassed classical music (Ted Heath), historical literature (Churchill) or photography (Denis Healey); today, bar the inevitable exceptions, many unwind by tweeting running commentary on ‘The X Factor’, ‘Gogglebox’, f***ing ‘TOWIE’ or ‘Strictly Come Dancing’; some even stoop to appearing on the latter – stand up, Old Mother Cable.

It’s hard to resist the temptation to regard the upsurge in low art that has characterised the past couple of decades as something that has been socially engineered to enable those in power to get away with murder while the Yahoos are distracted by addictive trivia. That some from amongst those ranks have now progressed to the Lower House is a natural development that seems preordained. We already have a lightweight at No.10 who by his own admission is not an especially deep ideological person, issuing a stream of vacuous sound-bites his Spads assure him chime with public opinion whilst his Ministers sell the family silver to China and offshore tax-exiles as well as handing over the remaining beauty spots to industries whose drilling will complete the country’s transformation into a landfill of hope and glory.

With self-aggrandising bullies on one side and venomous gangsters on the other, the Commons is a microcosm of the rotten society it is supposed to speak on the behalf of – a society in which the police, the judiciary and the CPS are in thrall to bureaucratic box-ticking and PC pressure groups, refusing to acknowledge innocence even when a jury has awarded it; a society in which self-appointed moral watchdogs monitor speech and issue severe guidelines on what can and can’t be said; a society in which name-calling constitutes a crime and the recipients are encouraged to revert to helpless infancy rather than displaying the dignity of an adult above the insult; a society in which women are ordered to simultaneously be ball-breaking glass ceiling-smashers, Virgin Mary’s with babies at their breasts, chaste Victorian maidens and sexually promiscuous skanks whose bedroom recklessness can either be curtailed by an STD or crying rape; a society in which every man is a potential paedophile and every child is in eternal peril from the male of the species.

A society in which the plebs are supposed to be grateful that their living wage or zero-hours contract is helping the Government get to grips with the deficit whilst they are taught to view those unable or unwilling to settle for any old shit as scrounging scum deserving of the punitive punishments devised to dehumanise them; a society in which previously beyond-the-pale far-right, ill-informed opinions of immigrants are sold as perfectly acceptable and reasonable viewpoints – as long as the immigrants in question are penniless and can’t buy ministerial favour with a sack full of rubles or yuans; a society in which the few who enjoy a perfectly legal form of intoxicating relaxation are pursued and pilloried by hypocritical, fascistic lobbyists and a series of discriminatory curbs on their civil liberties; a society in which public libraries are seen as expensive luxuries when the needs of the lower orders can be met by fried chicken or pound shops; a society in which idiocy is a virtue and intelligence is mistrusted and frowned upon; a society that those born before around 1990 no longer recognise.

Whenever BBC Parliament transmits live proceedings from the Commons and new arrivals get their moment in the spotlight, I despair. At one time, I used to look at politicians and even if I disagreed with what they had to say, I could tell they’d lived a full life before donning the ministerial mantle and had come to their particular opinion via a combination of experience and education. They had earned their position. I no longer feel that. I see people I’d cross the road to avoid, people I’d want to throttle within minutes were I stuck next to them in a supermarket queue, people who are inherently stupid and devoid of both common sense and personality. Welcome to the future.

© The Editor

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9 thoughts on “THE NEW POWER GENERATION

  1. “… A landfill of hope & glory…” Excellent! Let ’em wave their flags to THAT on the very last night of the very last ‘Last Night of the Proms’!

    I’ve always preferred hearing the honestly held opinion with which I disagree than listening to the snake-oil charmers & their ‘elastic’ beliefs, which is just about all that’s left these days it would seem. It takes a debate over something fundamental to restore a tiny bit of faith in Parliament: another war, I.D. cards, the death penalty, ‘surrendering’ more control to the E.U., etc. – only then do we see the human face peek out from behind the party mask.

    Tomorrow will be interesting here – Spain’s general election. The last few days have been pretty dispiriting – the opposition (PSOE, Labour equivalent) leader is, unfortunately, as convincing as a Westworld-robot, a waxy example of the focus-group made (synthetic) flesh. In an ugly head-to-head debate with the current President (PP, Conservative equivalent) he scuppered any chance of forming a coalition by calling him ‘indecente’ (‘immoral’) to his face over the usual corruption scandals…

    With the emergence of two new parties it’s being called the ‘end of two party politics’ here, and it’s not impossible to imagine the leader of one of those – Pablo Iglesias, Podemos – becoming President in a coalition to take back the reins of power from the Right. (The party was only formed last year, to give some idea of their meteoric rise – a genuine ‘grassroots’ movement, too.)

    Regardless of what happens, it has given me a little more hope that there is still room for ideas & principles (regardless of whether or not I agree with them); they’ve made great play of the ‘marketing’ of the old parties – slick, showroom-lies that everyone is sick of. I hope they get the chance to shake things up a little.

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  2. I don’t know, Pet. I’m of similar age to you – a couple of years younger as far as I can tell – and I wonder how much of this is just about our reaching middle age. I’ve read some of Chris Retro’s stuff expressing similar sentiments, and I find myself nodding…just a little too easily.

    Did we not laugh at the previous generation for their stuffiness and their disapproval of ‘our’ culture, our music, our heroes? Does this not happen with each passing generation? Of course, it feels different this time. It’s happening to us!

    Could it be that it is different this time? Could it be that it is us; that we have just not grown up? Our generation doesn’t seem to have done much…yet. We look at the young man in Downing Street and think, “Christ, if he’s half as dumb as I am, we’re in serious trouble.”

    Perhaps, if there is a difference, this is where it lies: we seem to have neither political passion, nor wisdom. Some might celebrate that lack of passion, that lack of political principles, as evidence of the death of zany ideology, but the lack of wisdom seems, to me, particularly troubling. Do we really need silver-haired leaders? Or is it just time that we grew up, rolled our sleeves up, and got stuck in.

    I see that Vidal vs Mailer featured two men still in their forties. Though, it can hardly be held up as an example of intellectual debate.

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    1. I think it’s inevitable that reaching a certain age does provoke such sentiments, but when I see someone like Jess Phillips being touted as a future Labour leader, it’s hard not to despair! I’m really not a ‘it was better in my day’ type, mainly because I don’t feel as though I’ve ever had ‘a day’, to be honest. In many respects, I’m happier in my 40s than I ever was in my 20s & 30s, let alone my teens; the world outside my window just seems to have gotten worse. As for Vidal and Mailer, I agree it’s not the best example of their intellectual gravitas, though it is entertaining; I wish the whole interview was out there to access.

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  3. I largely agree…though I don’t know who this Jess Philips is.
    Would be good to see more of Vidal vs Mailer.
    Any news of your erstwhile landlady?

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  4. Another excellent post Pet. Like Bandini I think the “Landfill of Hope and Glory” is pure genius! Reminds me a little of a quote by the late Jean Baudrillard, who postulated that history and meaning had effectively been ended by the spread of globalisation, not in the sense of it representing the culmination of history’s progress, but rather as the collapse of the very idea of historical progress.

    “The end of history is, alas, also the end of the dustbins of history. There are no longer any dustbins for disposing of old ideologies, old regimes, old values. Where are we going to throw Marxism, which actually invented the dustbins of history? (Yet there is some justice here since the very people who invented them have fallen in.) Conclusion: if there are no more dustbins of history, this is because History itself has become a dustbin. It has become its own dustbin, just as the planet itself is becoming its own dustbin!”

    P.s. I feel the same as you regarding my 40’s, much more at peace with myself than I ever was before, but world outside my door is another matter altogether!!!

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