The Silly Season. I must be honest, I’m not sure it is still widely referred to as such, but I’m talking about the summer period when Parliament is in recess, MP’s take a break from running the country and the media turns to filling news segments with the type of stories the public are really interested in.
Let’s not forget this is the period when Putin appeared bare-chested for the first time on his summer holidays, or when crop circles are investigated in forensic detail as proof of alien life. It’s this time when most us, me absolutely included, were in mock outrage that politicians took such long holidays but were secretly pleased. Unofficially, and quietly accepted, the silly season means it’s time for our summer holidays, so everyone can be slightly more laid back, recuperate after the first six months of the year, and the UK settles into party mode.
24 July marked the start of Silly Season this year. And yet, the headlines never really deviated from the main messages. Maybe over the last few years and especially this year, the state of the world means it can’t afford a hiatus over the summer. Perhaps from a UK perspective, the deadlines set by Brexit have meant that this luxury cannot be afforded, and the news focus can’t deviate into a more relaxed tone.
But, there has been a crucial difference over this last month to the preceding months and that is the summer feeling that happens in August across the UK every year hasn’t been dampened. Of course, the weather has played a large impact as we catch up on our vitamin D and coupled with the feel good vibes of the World Cup, the UK has felt a bit more laid back than during the vitriolic and divisive months before.
Yes, the daily updates on the B-word continue, but it seems all sides of the media have taken a step back from the rabble-rousing element of the debate. I would like to think that the people involved in the Brexit planning process are still diligently at work and it’s just the outward facing element has been dialed down. Or perhaps the Silly Season clears our mind and focuses on the more important facets of life – passport, suntan lotion and the million-dollar question: where on earth did I put those flip flops from last year?
And now, yes when I’m relaxing by the pool and the mind starts to wonder, I am asking myself the question whether I have ever really considered the work of the politician. I presume the time spent in Parliament debating and voting on the important issues of the day becomes the critical barometer of the ‘success’ of a politician.
But, maybe, as demonstrated in this summer’s Silly Season, the time in Parliament spent in these sprawling debates takes away from the focus and success of delivering impactful outcomes to a country to, ensuring it is forward thinking and a leader in the global economy.
Please, don’t interpret this wrongly, the debates and voting in Parliament is the cornerstone of our democracy and should never be misrepresented or underplayed. But we live in a world that is ever changing and fast moving, and it’s not wrong to question if there is a way we, as a country, can better use politicians’ time.
Maybe we could restructure the politicians timetable? Why not have more regular breaks every week rather than one long summer one and various shorter ones for times such as conference season.
If the politicians step back for a week every month (as an example) from their media facing persona and the news cycle focuses its gaze elsewhere, will this allow the public to draw breath and reflect rather than emote and rage? Will it give our elected representatives the time to think clearly and rationally to create policies which position the UK as a global leader?
I know I am over simplifying and probably my thought process doesn’t hold out against any form of challenge. But, just selfishly, hasn’t it been nice over the last month to see the scary unknown just slightly fading further into the back of your mind? After all - we must concentrate on the more pressing issues of the Silly Season. Now where did I put that plug adaptor?