Do Politicians Deliver Value?
While the nation continues it's love affair with the SNP and Yes Alliance I find myself being reminded of the self centered nature of "The Political Class". I don't mean to be controversial with this post, I am simply asking a question and then go on to provide evidence to support my perspective and argument.
Don't politicians and activists enjoy a good debate? So this post is simply a debate, and I would welcome a reply from any politician or activist from any party at all. Surely the post-indyref politicised public is entitled to explore such issues, after all I hear comments all the time in the media from MPs & MSPs;
"I represent 'The People"
"We've listened to 'The People" and my own personal faviourite
"We've helped '"XYZ group of people' with our ABC policy"
So I am simply questioning these statements. Indeed, something I would love to see is a website called "How my MP helped me" although, with the exception of the party faithful, this might be a pretty sparse website. While the SNP is on a high and enjoy a new found love affair with "The People" it's useful to remember that;
|Are you being served?|
Or have you had your chips?
- We still have issues like expenses as MSP Expenses Hit £12.5 million, which reminds us that
- MSPs like Bill Walker are among those who "Serve the People"
- "The people" are so sick of the status quo that they will vote for parties with extreme views like UKIP as opposed to the usual suspects.
What do politicians do? Who do they "serve"? Whose lives do they improve? Do they listen? Do they consider the facts? Do they even care?
Political Input: Nice but Certainly Not Necessary
There is a very practical reason for asking this too. As I have banged on all month, the conditions the referendum have created are unique and I 100% believe that this could facilitate for something truly special to achieved ie The "just society" that the Yes Alliance said they would provide if we voted "Yes"
Is this society still possible? If it is, do we even need politicians involvement? It would be welcome for sure, but is it necessary? In my forthcoming posts I will argue that it is possible - with or without politicians - although it would require a massive amount of collaboration. Even though the benefits would include some real win-win situations for just about every stakeholder, the level of collaboration may be too big "an ask"
My personal and professional experience dealing with politicians has been poor, so I don't have a great deal of time for the political class. But do I have enough evidence to win this blog debate: Do Politicians Deliver Value?
I would like focus on 3 inter-related examples: Digital and physical space, Education and the scrapping of "old style apprenticeships.
Digital and Physical Space
Before the politicians messed it all up, #The45plus was trending... it was also a chaotic mess of hundreds of people randomly interacting and chatting. But it was starting to become self organised.
#The45Plus shows how easy it is to reach large number of people, and the Yes Alliance used this to good effect... when they wanted something, votes. How do MPs use social media the rest of the time? As a broadcast media channel or they only engage with people they know and agree with. I've had very little evidence to suggest any MP has "Listened" to my Tweets or posts let alone engaged with me.
But perhaps this is just as well because when policy makers and MPs engaged with #The45Plus, it all went to pot. We also see this with the built environment. When people were moved from the squalid conditions in tenements like the Gorbals to the new high rise flats or to the new schemes of Castlemilk, Easterhouse and Drumchapel etc.they complained of feeling more disconnected
What a success this policy turned out to be! According to some academics we are entering the 4th generation in some areas where some people DO NOT KNOW ANYONE WHO HAS EVER HAD A JOB! These are stats that I find very hard to believe but I am assured it is the case.
There was order in the chaos of the squalid conditions, just as there is new types of chaos in the new ordering of the city. Schemes which housed only the poor and marginalised in areas with housing but no industry had some serious consequences.
There is a lot of resistance by educators today about things like for profit corporations involvement with education. However, at the same time, there is also criticism from teachers about a lack of support from other stakeholders like parents and their current employers: politicians.
My view is that job titles is something of "an elephant in the room" and the key to reform is: competency and trust. This should apply to all stakeholders regardless of whether people are policy makers, private companies, parents or teachers
If you are competent at what you do and are capable of establishing a culture of clear communication and trust, you should be allowed a seat at the Education table. In the past education used to be a bit of a mixed bag and seemed to evolve better than it is under the current conditions;
“Until the 19th Century, the small scale enterprises which provided the bulk of formal education were, typically, private concerns. The early universities were also independent; while in some societies there was a mixture of religious and charitable concerns. With the rise of the Nation State, and the development of the industrial society, all this changed. Education came to be viewed as a core responsibility of the state, and came more and more under tight state control… [as part of the] increasing tendency for government to actively involve itself in every area of social life.” Alison Wolf Does Education Matter
If competency and trust was the core requirement this might mean that education was more like the 19th Century with a lot less state control or political involvement. As Andrew Mawson highlights;
I don't think that this is highlighted any better than with things like adult illiteracy rates... How can people sit in a class for 10 years and not be able to read. How can the problem whether the cause is undiagnosed dyslexia or some issue with poverty, parents, behvaiour or simply a lack of motivation to learn.
All we need to do is compare politicians record in education with (some) Charter Schools in the US and private education in the UK. From what I can see the differentiating factor between the two are;
1) Difficult to quantify: Competency
2) Issues stakeholders don't value: Culture (especially communications & trust)
3) Things Education can be nothing about: Family Income
Equally, I'm not sure too many teachers would agree with some of the findings and reform ideas that Alison Wolf, Malcolm Gladwell, Sugata Mitra come up with.
This is again a criticism of policy makers regarding the culture of box ticking and fear, as opposed to any criticism of educators being unwilling to innovate.
Hey! Government! Leave them Kids Alone
It might be argued that education was better able to evolve with the needs of both the individual and employers before it was under the Nation States control