Wednesday, 6 November 2019

We are routinely outplayed

There are many times when a chess player must admit that he or she has been outplayed. Lose gracefully, learn from the more obvious mistakes and live on to fight another day – that’s the only way to deal with it.

Similarly we the UK electorate have regularly been outplayed by the establishment. Political life and political choices are narrowing and moves which might favour the ordinary voter are not being made. Unfortunately we are unlikely to learn much from being outplayed even though Brexit showed us how crudely the establishment defends itself when taken by surprise. The establishment may not be particularly smart but it has the money, the time, the staff and the unimaginably vast networks of patronage.

It seems to be an unfortunate weakness of democracy that too many voters are too easily persuaded to cast votes which are obviously poor moves in the political game. Too many vote tribally, too many do little or no research into the people they vote for and too many opt for simple answers to deal with situations which are so fluid and so complex that there cannot possibly be simple answers. This much is frequently obvious but still we get the simple answers.

The great mass of voters do not spot and take advantage of collective political opportunities such as Brexit or the emergence of new and more dynamic political parties. Too often the same cross goes in the same box against the name of the same stooge, lunatic or crook.

Ours is no longer the culture which emerged victorious in two world wars. It is not sufficiently self-confident and adaptable to play realpolitik successfully. This is what winding down looks like from the inside. It’s our own fault.

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