Anorak | Puppet-Faced Alistair Darling Presents The Death Of Politics, A Windy Shadow Play

Puppet-Faced Alistair Darling Presents The Death Of Politics, A Windy Shadow Play

by | 24th, March 2010

FOR a student of politics and an observer of humanity, one of the fascinating aspects of contemporary politics is how narrow, party politics and personalities have overtaken the real thing, to the extent that the professional politicians and their respective claques no longer have any real idea of what politics is about, writes Richard North.

Immersed in Westminster bubble gum, they have come to believe that the tat and trivia of their daily fare is politics, instead of the froth and theatre attendant on the exercise of power.

Then, suddenly, and probably unwittingly, we see on what is one of the most political of all days – budget day – The Times come up with the headline: Nuclear and wind power will be at heart of Alistair Darling’s Budget.
At last, we see real politics, for there is nothing so intensely political as money, and its expenditure, and energy the very heart of civilisation as we know it. And the two combined make for a heady mix, with decisions about to be taken which will have major repercussions for decades to come, in our pockets and, potentially, on our most basic lifestyles.

What gives these issues their edge is that politics, in its proper sense, is about policies and in particular choices. The essence of the political process is the construction of different policies by different parties, and of choices made between them, with the voters gravitating towards their preferred policies which bring them into the ambit of the parties that offer them.

But, when there are no policies, or the policies held by different parties are the same, then real politics dies. The substitute a choice between parties is a pale shadow of the real thing. It is not politics. It is a beauty contest fun while it lasts but entirely lacking in substance.

And today, that is what we are going to see. When Darling stands up and puts “nuclear and wind power” at the heart of his budget, his plans will differ only in detail but not in substance from the Tory plans. There is argument at the margins, about how precisely these plans should be financed, but no disagreement between the parties that “nuclear and wind” should be at the very heart of energy policy.

That means that both parties subscribe to the fiction that, to renew Britain’s electricity generation infrastructure over the next 20-30 years will cost in the order of £200 million a figure so widely accepted and undisputed that we even see it trotted out by Rowena Mason , supposedly The Daily Telegraph “expert” on energy matters.

In fact, the figure is far higher

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Posted: 24th, March 2010 | In: Politicians Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink