Monday, 29 August 2011

The Non-Politico

For a journo, I’m not that passionate about politics. I know who runs our country and who’s in charge in America, but I hesitate to admit that I didn’t vote all the way from India in 2010, nor did I stay up all night when Obama secured the top spot. I want to be in the loop but like so many others I am perched nervously on the outskirts peering in.

I am an outsider, I don’t speak politics. Left-wing, right-wing, liberalism, Lords, Commons, Republican, Democrat – all are phrases which instil in me the same frustration as the AS Level French I have long since forgotten. I recognise the words in context, but understand very little about them alone.

Of course I don’t want to admit this. There is an air of arrogance surrounding those who are fluent in politics which I think the rest of us find a little daunting. We think we’ll be judged as clueless if we don’t understand why they’re angry about something (and you know they’re always angry about something) so we just nod along and feign outrage until the next baffling topic comes up in conversation. In the meantime however, our insecurity and understated input can be mistaken for incuriosity, provoking dismay with those who know the ins and outs of Westminster like they know their own home.

We clueless are just as quick to judge though; those stuffy complainers going on about immigrant workers and inflation rates and how this country has gone to pot. Having been to a third world country where the sick and poor can’t see a doctor, I may never be able to tolerate complaints about our NHS, but I can understand why the Politico’s might think that my relative ignorance in their field is unforgivable.

Am I ignorant, though, just because I don’t know why Ed Balls is on the news so often, or how much fairer AV really would have been, or how to spell George Osborne’s job title? Yeah, I am. When it comes to current affairs, I read all the stories but I know nothing of what lies between the lines. That’s something I have to work on.

But I’m not an outsider like I thought. I was with hundreds and thousands of students in spirit protesting about the rise of tuition fees, I was in full support of the enquiry that followed the downfall of the News of The World just a few months ago, and only weeks before writing this, I sat and watched in shock with the rest of you as the riots wrecked Britain’s biggest cities. Evidently the political spirit is in me – it must be in all of us – but perhaps it’s a question of how well we can learn to relate to it.

In religion, there were once just believers and non-believers, but nowadays there is a much wider acceptance for those who find themselves lost somewhere outside of those two circles, peering in, looking for answers. Aside from the fact that they have to choose between the two, those outsiders are not so different to the Non-Politico’s. We’re all just trying to get by based on what we think we know for sure but we may never know the answers until we get ourselves inside the loop.

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