First: Identify an underlying hate or prejudice of a section of the population. Second: say something that will anger and enflame a significant majority of people. Get the mass News coverage. Thirdly: wait and then say “sorry” and get away with it without sanction. Meantime garnish the support of all those who share strong views but are normally unheard.
If reports are to be believed, it seems to work best when focusing on the extremes, either of the conventional left or right in politics. Our rapid news cycles are always looking for their next fix. There’s nothing like a rocking and rolling bandwagon to sell newspapers or increase viewers.
It’s a crude mechanism that polarises public opinion. Chalk or Cheese. Marmite – love it or hate it.
This is a real dilemma for the traditional centrist politicians. It becomes difficult to use words like: compromise, consensus and cooperation. In our heart of hearts, we all know that things get done when people pull together around a common goal. We all pine for better performing public services and greater customer care from private companies but we are not helping? I think not.
The political blame game polarises public opinion. Easy enough to do when faced with zero accountability and gaping great failures – the railways have been doing that in recent times.
However, if the blame game is the only game in town we’ve come to a real crossroads. It’s almost impossible to learn and put things right if there’s a constant risk of getting shot at. Who wants to take on difficult, almost intractable problems if just by doing so you become the target of hate and prejudice? The blame game just drives repeated failure.
There was a time when our British adversarial system challenged people to come up with better arguments or better solutions to problems. What we are seeing now is that maybe it had had its day. The adversarial system, in this social media age is like fuel to a fire. It’s just another way of burning down the house instead of putting out the fire.
Fine. Pointing out the issues creates lots of good talking points. Now, what is to be done?
For a start, centrist politicians must become less reactive and more radical. Tap into positive emotions. Bin technical words like compromise, consensus and cooperation. Talk about teamwork and us pulling together. Cite great achievements like the 2012 London Olympics.
Hope not fear. Bringing down walls not putting them up. Getting News coverage for fundamental changes. Looking to the future rather than always rehashing the past.