It’s been a couple of weeks since the Conservative party convened on the south coast at Bournemouth for their party conference, presumably choosing the town for their venue so that party members would only have to roll down the wheelchair ramps at their nearby nursing homes, wheel down the road and along the sea front for 5 minutes before arriving at the conference hall and a nice cup of tea.
What greeted them there this year, however, was actually very different to what I think they are used to. Since the Cameron-isation of the Conservatives into a neo ‘third way’, firmly centre ground, all inclusive, all pleasing, blue, green and even a hint of red party, they may have been forgiven, Boris aside, for thinking that they have turned up at a conference aimed at finding excellence in middle-management.
The Tories, sorry, Conservatives are undergoing an image change which has seen them attempt to successfully re-brand themselves. The burning torch, their symbol for many years, which was only recently re-drawn so that it included a muscled arm holding it (ready presumably to wallop any nearby EU Commissioners, lefties or drug dealing, tax avoiding pregnant teenage illegal immigrants) has gone and has been replaced by an Oak Tree.
Introduced to embody the party’s new direction and to emphasis their new enthusiam for green policies – yet remaining presumably a strong British symbol – the new logo must have the Tory blue-rinse brigade thinking they had gone full circle and are back at the care home, such is the cosy similarity to care-home embelems up and down the country.
David Cameron, since becoming leader, has set about realigning the party, with his logo change recalling the way that Labour’s red flag turned into a red rose, and has done so, surprisingly, with far less noise and fuss. He has come to realise that if you want power in a modern prosperous, non-ideological Britain then you’d better play safe and be everyone’s friend in the centre. He has, then, declared no policies, and that there will be no policies for the forseeable future. His opening speech, by way of example, was calculated to be entirely devoid of intent and merely to set a bright and breezy tone. Is that what we can assume the party has become? A mood? “Oh, I’m in a light blue mood today. Maybe then I’ll choose the Conservatives to manage me this time around”…
Is that not what British politics now is? Choosing a form of management and a set of managers? We are assured that if the Conservatives do win the next election, presumably with a small majority of votes from a small majority of those entitled to vote, we won’t see much real change if how we are governed. Even if the Liberal Democrats win, we can safely assume that, having been able to win, we won’t see any change through them either.
Politics has hit the comfort zone and the banality of the centre because people don’t care about party politics anymore. And why don’t people care? Many reasons abound but mostly because in this day and age, in stable wealthy democracies, the system and policies of party politics is having less and less effect on everyday life for many people. People today are connected to ideas and individuals around the world almost instantly, many of us have travelled and made connections the world over, lived in other countries or know and live with people from all parts of the world on a scale unimaginable to our parents’ generation.
We are all atomised in our thoughts and act as in such a way that it would be foolish for us to pin all of our ideals onto a set of policies put forward by a group of loosely affiliated people in one particular country. This isn’t the 1930s or even the 1980s, where people – for the actual sake of their health, education or livelihood – were willing to strongly adhere to an ideology in the hope that it would bring them prosperity and happiness.
There’s no need. It seems that the solution all along was to be found somewhere in the middle, and all that remains is to join up and integrate our governing systems so that we can begin to address the most pressing issues of our time – namely the vast inequalities of wealth resources and access to education afflicting the world.
People, especially in the developed world, are doing this more and more. They are withdrawing from the national debate on many issues and from the parties which they find they cannot wholly empathise with and are becoming involved in international civil societies. I am a member of one of the largest of these International Non-Governmental Organisations, namely Oxfam. I consider it to be actually more politicised than many political parties at the moment. It allows me the opportunity to lobby on specific issues where I feel change should be affected and it’s pro-active rather than reactive – as I consider many political parties in Britain to be. Like other NGOs it is able to lobby on behalf of people in developing countries right up to the highest echelons of both British and foreign governments, and is able to induce change. Other groups the world over highlight causes, discuss them internally and externally, and co-operate in alliances with like minded groups on a global level – all with the clear objective of effecting change for the better.
With more and more people from more and more parts of the world connecting in this trans-national political sphere, the call for regulation and assembly grows ever louder. This, it is believed by many, is finally the first concrete foundations of a global government. It is yet to be seen what form it takes, whether at an existing institution such as the United Nations (where global civil society is already given prominent voice) or via some other method.
This global engagement is happening on a vast scale and is I believe largely very positive and to be welcomed. It does however feel at present a million miles away from Bournemouth.
[Blogging by Dan]