Dogma can never be creative, and its current domination of UK politics is causing a destructive spiral. A nihilistic momentum is developing, and, other than in the House of Lords, there is remarkably little visible political effort to counteract this. Leadership is basically about giving people hope, and through that a sense of purpose in pursuing specific objectives.
Why is there such a failure of leadership in our political system? A powerful national press controlled by a handful of oligarchs with common interests is part of the problem. This has created a managerialistic approach in politics that is very short-term in outlook and which seeks to control by manipulation rather than policy direction. Post-Thatcher, managerialism has become the norm, and we are now reaping the harvest of political ineptitude it has created.
Party leaders spout simplistic mantras that have no real meaning, which gives unwarranted weight to extremists who can make statements that are clearly understandable. Social media plays a part in this as trolls can say online what they would never dare state in a public assembly. Anti-social attitudes are being encouraged by this process, and increasingly, these are coming through in party policies and government actions.
Severe Calvinist dogma did much damage to Scotland in the 17th century, and the failure of the Jacobite rebellions sent a surge of talented Scots all over the world. The wealth of returnees and the development of an education system based on empiricism gave some Scots the opportunity to harness their abilities for a far greater reward in England and the burgeoning British Empire. Pragmatism ruled, but principles came later.
The high point of the British Empire was undoubtedly the abolition of slavery and its suppression, such as by the West Africa Squadron. British naval dominance carried on for another hundred years, but declined along with the empire it was designed to protect. A former first lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, came to the fore as a strong second world war leader, and there is huge irony in the recent focus on his Britain-stands-alone stance given he was an exponent of European integration and an initiator of the European Convention on Human Rights.
There is too much handwringing and indecision currently within the UK's political leadership. Theresa May's premiership hangs by a thread, and many ask what is the point of Jeremy Corbyn? In Scotland, despite a good act from Ruth Davidson (who will be going conveniently off stage on maternity leave), she is losing traction. Labour's new leader has yet to gel, and Nicola Sturgeon looks paralysed after several bad policy lurches that seem to have been the result of poor consultation and advice.
Fasten your seatbelts! Unless a competent cockpit crew takes control soon we are heading for extreme turbulence with a creaking political system that appears to have little sense of direction. Dogma provides an easy substitute for having to think about what is happening.
Please can Islay McLeod start to apply some professional journalist sceptism to her comments on global warming and polar bears, etc. Climate change/global warming has effectively become a multi-billion pound industry in western universities, and the new religion for the chattering classes, and no-one should take any statements or findings as gospel from anybody, without first asking who is making them and why. For example, it is a little known fact that the world population of polar bears in the 1960s was about 6,000. It is now about 25,000. They have evidently done quite well despite the negative trend in Arctic sea ice extent since 1979. Polar bears also survived the Eemian (the warmest period of the previous interglacial when it was probably about 5C warmer then present – e.g. hippos were resident in southern England at the time) without any problems. Susan Crockford is a respected authority on polar bears; perhaps you should take a look at her work (and her experience of being bullied by the climate mafia who evidently don't take kindly to people pointing out that their fluffy poster child for global warming is actually doing fine).
SR welcomes short pieces in response to SR articles or to current events in general. Send to: Islay@scottishreview.net