There are campaigners and there are politicians. Campaigners focus on and learn the tricks of the trade for campaigning. They learn how to get a message across by learning how to manipulate the listener into accepting a message that the listener may be indifferent to or negative towards (likewise the campaigner, who may also be indifferent to or negative towards it). The campaigner learns to apply quite basic PR tools in promoting a candidate or message. If they get ‘good’ at it, they begin to believe that they can sell any message; the content of the message becomes irrelevant and they actually get ‘joy’ from selling messages that they are indifferent to or negative towards. If you have that sort of ambivalence to your message, then the danger is that you become one of those people who is willing to say anything to ‘win’.
‘Winning’ becomes king to the political campaigner, a strange cult like status is afforded to the altar of ‘winning’. If you don’t win you don’t have power and if you don’t have power, you can’t change anything. Win! Win! Win! And if anyone questions the substance of your ‘winning’, if anyone questions the price to be paid for your ‘winning’, then apply some PR trickery and turn their question back on them. “Why do you NOT want to win? Why are you ANTI winning? What is your PROBLEM with winning? You DON’T want to win. You DON’T want power. You DON’T want to change anything”. The first person to claim the ‘winning’ high ground wins, in the campaigner’s world.
Politicians have principles.
I know, I should have given a warning before saying that, but bear with me.
Politicians have principles and that is what separates them from campaigners. Politicians have principles, those principles are the foundation of their message, their message is what campaigners sell. Politicians want to do good things (by whatever definition of ‘good’ they ideologically work from) but, certainly in Britain, becoming a politician has become a reward for services rendered, time served, as a political campaigner. Campaigners are parachuted into safe seats by serving politicians to bolster their ideological party position; campaigners who have proved themselves loyal to those politicians. Then you have a situation where you have MPs who are actually just campaigners, successful by campaigner standards but likely without principles, likely without a message. Day to day that is fine. Most of an MPs lot does not require them to have principles or a message but it does dilute the principles of a party, does dilute the message of a party, eradicates a party’s substance.
What if a faction within a party appoints a disproportionate number of campaigners as MPs? They may represent only a small percentage of that party’s MPs but their voice may have influence way beyond their size. Stuffed to the gills with ‘winners’, stuffed to the gills with seasoned campaigners, little substance, no principles, but an absolute belief in their rightness and a sense of entitlement that far exceeds their capabilities as politicians. They don’t have a message but want power and something good might come of them having it … or not.
Don’t look now, or too closely, we’re ‘winning’.
(Originally written 28/07/2016)