Sunday, 4 September 2016

Ed Balls and the Perilous State of British Politics

So Ed Balls was on Strictly last night.

I'd add a picture, but it's probably better if you try and imagine it.
Lots of unreal showbiz glitter and into the middle steps a podgy middle aged man with a bad hair cut and a suit he didn't choose for himself.  He bears the uneasy grin of one not accustomed to being the centre of such manufactured hype. You wonder what he can be thinking as his scantily clad partner guides him across the floor.  Is he thinking back to his days as a left wing firebrand Labour activist, knocking on doors and standing on street corners to bring hope to his party's working class voters? Or is he thinking how proud Tony would be now he has joined the ranks of the self serving political hasbeens in selling himself to the highest bidder?

And however pathetic it is to see someone like Balls, who still manages to pop up on the Andrew Marr show espousing serious political opinions the day after he has prostituted himself on a tacky celeb fest like Strictly, that's not the most depressing part of this story. It's the fact that no one seems to see any harm in this blurring of the line between serious and trivial.  Politics has crossed over into just another harmless branch of mind numbing entertainment, it would seem.

Not that this is new. Boris Johnson's been getting himself invited onto comedy shows since time immemorial. But go back far enough and it's hard to imagine our politicians conducting themselves like this. Would Harold Wilson have gone on 'What's My Line' or Harold McMillan on 'Juke Box Jury'? Maybe if the price had been right. And if the BBC is paying that much, maybe the license payers should be informed.

Personally I think it's all part of an overarching plot to dumb down politics. It's hard to take someone's opinion on monetary policy seriously when you've just watched them tango to the whooping appreciation of a studio audience. But with Balls, it's questionable how seriously anyone took him before this. The electorate did after all kick him out in last year's general election. And we all have to make a living, I suppose.

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