The UK election is now fully underway, the jockeys jockeying, the hurdles raised, the betting slips already hitting the mail mat. And the accusations, the finger-pointing, the machine-gun delivery of the sound-bite manifestos - all here in their party political glory, drenching a weary populus already jaded with the onslaught of statistics, convenient truths, positions, excuses and cover-ups.
These next few weeks are rather like enforced imprisonment. The promise of an election assures that we're required to face a daily offensive, a political sortie, where we get caught in the cross-fire of the ugly battle that has become the trademark of British politics.
It's not the election or the politics themselves. That's all just mere strategy fabrication, campaign and counter-positioning. But no longer with any true marble grain of ardent belief or ethos to be found in any of the parties, it's all purely about a means to an end - winning whilst ensuring others lose.
We've been subjected to this weekly in Prime Ministers Question Time - the vitriol, the attack, the ritual humiliation, the goading, the sniping. How then do senior politicians suddenly expect us to see them in a different light, as our potential national leader, as our role models for public exchanges in general, when they have all colluded in the shameful playground tactics - bullying, name-calling, exposing - themselves all technically forms of abuse, stemming from the same source as the modern day plague that has infested our internet space - cyber bullying and cyber abuse!
• Is it any wonder we're less than comfortable about seeing any of the party leaders as the primus inter pares, our next prime minister?
• Can they not see that such conflict, such personal attack, abuse is a turn-off?
It's a game they've ALL colluded in, one with its own rules and boundaries. They've just conveniently overlooked that the world is judging on decency and integrity when it's watching. So, when faced with choosing someone to represent us, speak for us, act on our behalf, we are left wanting, the credibility gap as wide as the chasm of disregard they've each had for the other.
In the words of All Rise Say No to Cyber Abuse, a not-for-profit organisation that endeavours to address more effectively the relatively unfettered reign cyber abusers can have online with little if any consequence, it is down to us adults, our politicians included, to lead the way in the role modelling behaviour for the generations to come to bring greater integrity to both offline and inevitably on line communication. Two birds one stone effect.
Anyone who has borne witness to the blatant question-dodging - now the must-have presentation skill for the dexterous political interviewee - will know what is meant here.
We were always taught at school to 'answer the question' in an exam; to make sure we understood what the question asked and then answer it to the letter. We were reminded it was not the occasion to disgorge the full contents of what we'd managed to cram-revise the night before in a vain attempt to woo the examiner. No, specificity was the name of the game.
This fashion for journo-politico Q&A tennis is akin to the painful exchange between a needy lover and their intransigent partner, where the former asks, 'Do you love me?' and the latter replies, 'I'm very fond of you and love being with you' and then follows, 'Yes, but do you love me?', to which the response is, 'You know how I feel about you. You're really special'. So it then shifts to, 'But why can't you say it then? You can't love me if you can't say it' and it finishes with, 'I don't need to say it. I've told you, I think you're great, we're great. What's the problem?'
This is more than a hint it's time for a new partner. The wriggling is palpable, the writing's on the wall and we're out of this relationship before too long.
Truth is, back in election land, we're stuck in the relationship for a full 5 years, so high time someone told these guys that getting off the question hook or repeatedly sticking to the party line's stock phrase just isn't the way to pass this exam. On the contrary, it's a sure fire way to kill confidence, instil suspicion and create mistrust. We can't take someone at their word when we observe them playing the media interview system - and us.
What is so excruciating about this technique, now become the accepted media bear-bating norm, is the inability of any of our politicians to present Truth, stand for fact over fiction, absoluteness over spin.
Excruciating because the nut is never cracked, the bubble never burst and they 'get away with it', without answering the question, simply by eeking out their 'broken record' response - which ensures they can never be quoted later as saying x,y,z - until the voice in the interviewer's ear says 'Cut' and we move onto the next 3 minute item.
But we, the viewers, the listeners are left with a cliff-hanger conflict moment unresolved, severed before it's concluded, the battle obliterated and reset to zero by the overall enemy of Time. But it's a false economy.
The electorate never forgets. We clock the insincerity, the dogged playfulness in avoiding responding with fullness and truth. We take each of those moments of denial into our voting decision wondering whatever happened to truth in politics....Suggest a correction