Nov 07, 2022

If you want to consign religions to history

I recently caught the final episode of a reality TV series where three members of the public pitched to become an ‘alternative’ UK Prime Minister. I accept that I only saw the final episode, so I never saw what the three candidates had to do to get into the final, but what they had to do to win it left me deeply saddened about the state of our country.

Each was asked to come up with the central plank of their policy, and put it to a vote by an invited studio audience. The candidate whose policy had the greatest resonance – and who therefore won the contest – was the one who said we should make corporations pay their ‘fair share’ of tax. The other two candidates offered to ‘end institutional racism’ and to ‘end homelessness’.

Why did this leave me saddened? Because it gave the misleading impression that such deeply complex issues can be reduced to such simplistic statements. As if just wishing that things could be better would make them so, when the truth is that success in solving such problems would require equally complex solutions that could potentially in turn, create other – possibly worse – situations further down the line. And that’s if you could even define what success might even look like. It also saddened me that we are creating the perception that members of the public could do a better job than experienced politicians, who – whatever you might think of them – may at least have an understanding of the complexities of an issue (with, of course, some notable exceptions, eh, Liz?).

Yes, I know this programme was just entertainment. But what sort of entertainment is it that makes it seem that all our problems could be solved at a stroke if only a gung-ho member of the public could ‘have a go’ at leading the country? (Although with the way we’re churning through Prime Ministers at the moment, maybe we’ll all get to have a go before the next election). The truth is, of course, that there are no easy solutions, and at best, every policy is a form of compromise.

I know, it would be great if this were not so. If a Prime Minister or President could simply wave a magic wand and ‘kazaam!’ everything is made better. The war in Ukraine? Kazaam! The war is over! Global hyper-inflation? Kazaam! It’s back down to below 2%! Global warming? Kazaam! Brrrr, it’s cooling down! But that simply isn’t going to happen, and giving us the impression that it might is to treat us as infants.

Of course, this brings me on to one of my favourite topics – religion… (oh, no Jonathan – you’re not back on that are you? Yep. Sure am.) [more]