Friday, January 25, 2013

british politics

It's Friday. We've been paid. It's just about three months until our wedding. My SAD lamp has been on for just about 7 hours solid. My workout at gym has intensified. My Brit gets back from Switzerland tomorrow.

As long as I don't look out of the window, it's OK.

I also did an extremely interesting course this week. As my job has become increasingly political over the last few months, I thought it would probably be a good idea to get a crash course in British politics.

You know, really just understand the political infrastructure.

Also, because I want to be prime minister one day just like the formidably brilliant Margaret Thatcher, or at the very least, an MP, realised during the course that being either of those is a crucifyingly difficult job and will most likely end badly.

Anyway. It was fucking fascinating.

There was a whole bunch of quirky little things I didn't know about parliament and the British government system in general. And as far as democratic systems are concerned, this one's been going the longest. Like, in the world.

I now know what a 'shadow minister' is, why being a civil servant ("Whitehall") means you might have tons of knowledge and power, what the difference between government and parliament is, and what it takes to become a member of the House of Lords. (I need a title.)

Why ministers have to be MPs, and how the House of Commons is run by people called 'whips', broadly speaking.

MPs vote by walking through a YES or NO door called a 'division.'

MPs, ministers and politicians have difficult jobs because they have to be everywhere, quite simply. They have to persuade people locally to vote for them (in the area that they govern, called a 'constituency,' and they have to persuade people nationally to vote for them. They have to be in a thousand places at once. Which is why many politician's marriages fail and they look haggled and unslept. It's because they are.

And they aren't paid that well.  David Cameron gets £165 000 a year. Before tax. Plus expenses. For running the country. There are junior bankers in Canary Wharf with three years experience who get the same amount.

Prime ministers make promises when they campaign ("their manifesto") and if these promises are actually passed as laws, (after 8000 people sign off on them - "democracy"), most of the time the promises they made to the country will never end up as was first intended. The voting public will hate them for this, ("he said we'd get free housing!") and usually it's not entirely their fault. It seems a bit thankless, doesn't it?

My question was, "It sounds like a shitty job to be fair. Filled with long hours, endless commutes across the world and locally, and an average salary for the work that's done. Endless shmoozing and campaigning. Starting/stopping wars. Fixing broken economies. Being hated more than loved most of the time. Then after your time is over - if you even survive a re-election, you're sacked. Why do it?"

 The affable and knowledgeable trainer said it's because "politicians do it for the limelight." And muttered something about all of them being damaged and having a thirst for power.
Perhaps they were bullied or something and need to show the world they, well, rule the universe.

Or, have us believe, that they really want to change the world. Perhaps that's their starting point.

Anyway, it was nice to learn something new. I wouldn't mind being a part of it all, but have changed my mind about running for MP [when I'm British.] Just want to be part of the cool crowd: The House of Lords.

1 comment:

Coffee and Books Cape Town said...

The Yes Prime Minister TV series might be the best crash course in British Politics ever.... have you got it?
Dad x