The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of InQuire Media
It was only the other day that I frantically Googled the term ‘prorogation’, having heard the government’s plans to deliver Brexit “no ifs, no buts”. But in the current political climate, lessons on Britain’s ancient parliamentary conventions come thick and fast. So thick and fast in fact, that I have absolutely no idea what is going on. But neither, it would seem, does anyone else.
On YouTube this evening, I watched as Boris was defeated for a second time. British politics has looked like New York’s rush hour traffic for the past three years, and yet here’s Boris inviting me to view things in terms befitting a set-piece battle.
I could spectate a Chess tournament and get about as close to real warfare as I could at Prime Minister’s Questions. But that’s not to say that the political sphere hasn’t been noisy. It has. It’s been so noisy that it has engulfed our collective attention and become a spectacle for the rest of the world.
The culture is so saturated with Brexit news that the country is suffering from a political overdose. A sickness induced by overexposure to information about chlorinated chicken and the intricacies of international trade.
But politics, as my dad says, “is at its best when it’s just background noise.” I’ve always agreed with that assessment. I think that good politics sounds like an old but reliable air-con unit in a reputable 4-star hotel. A sound that reassures you of a comfortable sleeping environment but isn’t enough to ruin the peace.
That’s how politics ought to be.
It ought to operate subtly in the background, aware of what it is in service of. I prefer the sort of political noise that reminds me that my interests are represented, but which assures me that my attention is well-spent elsewhere. What I don’t value is the kind of intrusive noise which has come to pollute our civic and cultural life.
Life goes smoother when politics is nothing more than a tolerable buzz in the back of everyone’s mind. Not so loud that it might drive you insane, but enough to remind you that things are being taken care of on your behalf.
The nation desperately needs a return to that kind of political noise. A politics that allows us to go about our business as citizens. What it needs is a return to life outside the shadows cast by Brexit.
How to get there? Boris suggests the same infamous formula: “no ifs, no buts”; Corbyn trades on the ambiguity of silence. Your guess is as good as mine.