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Catch-22 of a Rotten Political System

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At the Leveson Enquiry this week, Richard Desmond told the barrister cross-examining him that he didn't know the meaning of the word 'ethical'.

Worrying though this might be from such a successful UK media baron, what does it say about the politicians who have been cow-towing to people like this for so long?

Shouldn't they be taking the ethical lead?

Of course they should. But now, of course, we know they haven't.

It is time to recognise our political system is rotten to the core.

It is at best inefficient and incompetent and, at worst, criminal and corrupt. Never can there have been a time when so many people close to the heart of government have or are facing criminal records.

Extraordinary isn't it that Sian Phillips, a young girl with a conviction for 'affray' can be deemed to be unsuitable, and expelled from, something as facile as the X Factor yet our prime minister has been surrounded by so many people who have been arrested or have, or are about to have, criminal records?

This is not a political party issue. I am more interested in human behaviour and real people than political parties.

In particular, I am interested in the increasing divergence of our society - and, in a world where there is more connectivity than ever before, there is such a disconnect between the real world and the 'Westminster Village'.

But isn't it strange that our three 'main' parties - Liberal Democrat, Labour, Conservative - are all bound by such outdated idealism and anachronistic dogma?

You only have to write something about real people in the real world out there and, whatever you say, you are open to being labelled as a 'Tory' or a 'leftie'. Why is this? I don't label people in this kind of way.

Surely, in the 21st century, we have had to adapt and change like never before? So why do we keep returning to these lazy, dogmatic positions?

And, in particular, aren't we ashamed that we are governed by such an antiquated, shambolic and corrupt political system? How can we espouse the virtues of democracy in, say, the Middle East, when our own system is so flawed?

Three facts:

1. Just over 1% of the UK population are members of political parties - put together, less than the Caravan Club! 'Can UK political parties be saved from extinction?' (BBC).

2. Three and a half million people who are eligible to vote do not bother to register to do so. Where art thou Emmeline Pankhurst?!

3. At the last general election the Conservatives won 36% of the vote (307 seats), Labour 29% (258 seats) and the Liberal Democrats 23% (57 seats).

How many of those who voted did so on the merits of the case or by traditional tribal loyalty? How many are die-hard Tories or Labour through-and through? Is this the democracy we preach?

Surely the time has come for a much more fundamental change in our politics - and a more professional and creative approach to the way we manage our country?

But it will not happen - because it cannot happen.

This is why the recent 50th anniversary of the publication of Joseph Heller's book Catch-22 shows that this brilliant book is relevant today as ever it has been.

As the Sunday Times said:

"We are all in Heller's 'conscript army' now. Why do we have a coalition government? Because nobody liked any of them enough to give them power. Why have I lost my job? Because banks didn't understand how to lend money. Isn't that the point of banks?"

Why can't we change the political system? Because the only people who can change the system are the people who run the system, which is why they won't change the system.

Classic Catch-22.

One day, someone from somewhere will emerge to make things better. But it will not be a career politician - and certainly none of our lot.

In the meantime, as well as Catch-22, you might find the book that is said to have inspired the hit TV series Mad Men, Joseph Heller's 1974 novel Something Happened, worth a read.

It will help you understand what motivates people and how they think and behave.

Unlike our politicians, who haven't got a clue.

This is an updated version of an earlier post on Brand Republic.