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February 10, 2023


Aaron Headly

Here in the States we have a strange tension: many voters prefer bloke-y types who give the impression of connecting with the voters. These guys (it is usually guys) do not mesh well with the 'real' politicians (who more match your description) and chaos ensues.
And then the chaos sours the voters on politics in general, which stifles emergence.


Politicians are unrepresentative not just because they are disproportionately male, stale and pale but simply because they are politicians. All professions tend to have a partial and distorted view of the world merely by virtue of attracting particular types and developing particular ideas and dispositions. Politicians are no different....

[ Brilliant explanation, and frightening when there is a particular need for different politicians or public servants if only for a while. ]


I've always said anyone who wants to be a politician should automatically be barred from so doing. Sadly that doesn't get us far, as we do need some form of representative democracy. My only solution is to prevent the type of people who should never be politicians from being able to do so until far later in life. Do we really think that the Johnsons, the Blairs, the Cleggs, the Hunts, the Hancocks, would really bother with politics if they couldn't even consider it until they were 50 or beyond? No they wouldn't. Instead of being able to spend their 20s and early 30s getting on the political ladder they'd be forced to go off and impose the delights of their personalities on people in other smaller organisations, which would be unlucky for those people, but better for the rest of us.

Older and wiser people, less in hock to party machinery and less driven towards power and prestige would be the ones who entered politics. And of course anno domini would mean their political lifespan was far less, 10-15 years max. No multidecadal career politicians. Whats not to like?

Robert Jennings

I think there is one key issue missing from this piece. Some people become politicians because they are grifters, confidence men, thieves. Like George Santos and a slew of members of the US Congress politics has become a place where you can accumulate wealth without delivering anything of much value. It has become a land where being a con artist is very lucrative and caring about policy is just a distraction.


All good points, but how is any of this peculiar to the UK. Does (for example) First Past The Post exacerbate or help? Why do other countries fare better?


"Like George Santos and a slew of members of the US Congress politics has become a place where you can accumulate wealth without delivering anything of much value."

Just to be bi-partisan I offer you Nancy Pelosi. A 30+ year career politician who has somehow managed to accumulate a fortune in excess of $100m (estimates vary, but they are all north of that). A somewhat large amount of money, given even Joe Biden (who has been both vice president and president of the US) has only managed a $10m fortune from his 50 years in office.

Jan Wiklund

There was a time when politics was not seen as a career but as a stunt of representing one's costituency for a while, until some other took over. Perhaps not in Britain because at that time British politicians were mostly patricians, but in the Scandinavian countries where - in the early 1900s - about half of the MPs were active family farmers. Somewhat later, trade unionists also took a place. I think that in these times politicians were more representative of the people in general, even in their views of what could or should be done in politics.

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