Why do many feel the need to demonise all politicians? We make them out to be monsters or wimps, overly ideologicial or pragmatically machiavellian. The constant sniping at politicians, knowing they’re easy targets, is worryingly damaging for our democracy.
This became evident to me by reading the coverage of Ed ‘Bruiser’ Balls, who I met a good number of times when working on financial education last year (see Meeting Ed Balls on Financial Education). Contrary to much current popular media mythology, every time I met him he came across as a considerate man, who cared about the issue and really wanted to get compulsory Financial Education in schools.
Sadly after the work we did, due to a disagreement between the parties on sex education, it fell at the last hurdle (see compulsory financial education plans axes), for me it was more of a problem with the system than the individuals within it.
Though of course the campaign carries on and we continue to work on trying to make it happen, now being led politically by another passionate, commited MP, this time a Tory, Justin Tomlinson (more financial education lobby). And while as Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls can’t join the new All Party group, I’ve little doubt he’ll continue to support it.
Now don’t get me wrong, Im not saying Ed Balls is all sweetness and light, I’ve no doubt he’s a toughy in a political scrap and not always perfect, but then again I doubt anyone who gets to the upper echelons of that hard industry isn’t, or many other hard industries for that matter. Certainly in the media and journalism world I tend to live in, most at the top are hard as nails when they believe in something.
I wonder if part of the antagonism is because much of the media-political relationship is adversarial. While I’m a journalist, often as my campaigning is more about the behaviour of companies than politicians, when I meet politicians it’s the other way round i.e. we’re working together towards a common aim, whether financial education or bank charges and it’s that, that means my views aren’t as hard.
What do you think?