In a recent poll of the least trusted professions, politicians pipped bankers and journalists to an unwelcome top spot. It reflected the sad truth that many constituents have stopped listening to their MPs, expecting to hear platitudes and meaningless promises. That accusation is often unfair, but when few politicians are willing to tell it straight for fear of reprisal it’s hard to see things changing. Yet some have tried and succeeded. Boris Johnson, currently the most popular politician in the land, is being touted for Number 10. Kate Hoey and Frank Field command respect across the Commons. And Louise Mensch’s rock ‘n’ roll background and social media savvy had bumped her up the reshuffle pecking order. The stereotypical staid MP has played a large part in disconnecting people from politics. We should celebrate those in public office brave enough to stand out.
Dylan Sharpe is a consultant at Pagefield.
Louise Mensch’s decision to resign from Parliament, after just two years, confirms that being a politician is just another job these days. There was a time when politics was considered more of a calling than a career, treated as a vocation that allowed you to pursue your goals and ideals. Not anymore. Now it’s like being a bank manager or cab driver: it’s something you try out and then, on a whim, give up. In our post-ideological era, when there’s very little substance in politics, and therefore little sense of commitment, MPs can come and go. Mensch’s weird two-year stint in the Commons, during which time she managed to hit the headlines without ever saying anything of note, points to a new era of revolving-door politics, in which part-time politicians seem more interested in improving their CVs than improving society.
Brendan O’Neil is editor of spiked online.