On a recent episode of Question Time, comedian Omid Djalili offered a brief yet memorable summary of the present state of British politics: 'It feels like a lot of public school boys are playing a game, and they are playing with our lives. And what's the game they are playing? The game of 'how to keep power'.' Djalili's statement reflects the growing trend of apathy - or perhaps antipathy - currently felt by many Britons towards politicians. A recent YouGov poll demonstrated that out of 1600 Britons questioned, only 24% said that they trusted their present MP. Furthermore, a mere 23% claimed to trust leading Labour politicians and only 19% said that they trusted leading Conservatives. If, as Djalili speculated, politics has become some vast, elite game and if, as the YouGov poll suggests, vast swathes of the population are distrusting of our politicians, one has to wonder how long this game, in its current form, can continue.
In recent years, the Great British political game has become a truly sordid affair. The actors in this game rely on tenuous, unsupported statistics; they all bend the truth as far as the truth can be bent; and cheating is encouraged, as long as neither team are found to be cheating. There are few rules - or at least solidified rules - and of those few rules, most are open to interpretation. A growing trend in the Great British political game is to attempt to manipulate the rules to work in one's favour - to alter, in essence, the very game itself. This is always considered a success when accomplished by either side.
Every policy, every piece of legislation and almost all factors that could supposedly aid our society, are now contested within the context of this game. Thus even common-sensical pieces of legislation that would ostensibly benefit all in our society are picked apart and destroyed by some or all of the major players. This, of course, halts progress for the population - the supposed benefactors of our political game.
The British population are taunted by the unfortunate truth that this political game will dictate our lives in many different ways. Our ability to own property, our salaries, our health service, our education system, our welfare support and so much more all depend on this game. Thus while it is fun, on occasion, to mock the petty arguments between those players who control power, the results of this game amount to an increasingly disconnected and disillusioned population who feel bemused with our political system. The players in this game function under the illusion that they are helping the population and yet success in the game - in terms of beating or at least undermining the opposition in the quest to gain more power - has become paramount to successful results for society.
Recent additions to the game - UKIP and the Greens - have ascended precisely because they purportedly seek to challenge the game itself, not simply play their part. Nigel Farage attempts to distance himself from the game by claiming he is an outsider who poses a challenge not to any particular ideology - after all, he is a Thatcherite - but rather to the framework of the game. As disingenuous as this might sound, Farage has struck a nerve by threatening the game itself, even if this threat is merely rhetorical. The Green Party exist on essentially the same terrain despite offering an entirely different message. Both of these parties are seen as alternatives not to traditional political thought - after all, the anti-immigration stance of UKIP and the environmental agenda of the Greens are hardly unique - but rather to the very essence of the game.
The game in its current destructive form is breeding massive contempt for British politics. We should indeed welcome UKIP and the Greens as they are ostensibly shining a light on the damaging nature of the game - whether merely rhetorical or not. The fundamental truth that the game has ceased to help the British population is increasingly being recognized by the masses. The players - who Djalili referred to as simply elite public school boys - have become so concerned with the destruction of their opposition that they have forgotten that it is us, the people who are effected by the game, who ultimately decide upon the winner. If we feel no team deserves such success, we might just reconsider the framework of the game. The Great British political game, if it continues to yield few results for the British population, will soon change, or perhaps, more significantly, be discarded of entirely.