Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Why politicians cry

Did you watch Piers Morgan's interview with Gordon Brown? No, me neither.

The truth is that I have no interest in Gordon Brown's personal life, feelings and emotions any more than I have an interest in my butcher's. I want my butcher to do his best to provide me with good quality cuts of meat at reasonable prices - I don't want to hear about how the death of his grandma in a freak meat grinding accident led to him questioning his chosen vocation.

Similarly, I don't want to know how the death of Gordon Brown's daughter helped to shape his politics or how the disability of David Cameron's son was such an influence on his thinking. I want to know what their policies are and I want them to be clear and concise.

My wife is very different, though. She'll happily chat to the butcher about his teenage daughter's latest "unsuitable" boyfriend and show an interest in his wife's IBS symptoms. Women are like that - they like to empathise with people.

It's not that men can't - it's just that, on the whole, we don't want to. Oh, we'll happily empathise with a mate who was served a dodgy pint of bitter or with City's striker struggling to find the back of the net - but with people who are there to give us a service? Nah - don't give me sob stories, mate - just give me what I'm buying.

This is why we now have to put up with politicians pouring out their hearts on the TV screen or in national newspapers - the female vote. It's why politics is now more about personality than policy. Or, where policy does become a factor, it's why the more emotive that policy is framed the better received it is by the female voter.

Of course, this is a huge generalisation - not all women are affected by these things and there are plenty of men who are (soft gits) - but politics is all about generalising. Or, it should be. Politics should be dispassionate and based on rational generalisations - not specific emotional responses. It should be about policy, not feelings.

The fact it isn't these days is all down to the political search for the female vote.

I blame the suffragettes.


Richard Matthews said...

Now, Stan, you're not suggesting that the vote should only be restricted to us chaps, are you?

I remember an amusing Ali G interview with a retired Judge Pickles.

Ali G asked Judge Pickles if he thought it was correct to have women on juries, to which JP replied enthusiastically in the affirmative. Ali G then pointed out that his girlfriend, Julie, thinks that 'everybody is guilty' during her time of the month.

Judge Pickles gave a wry smile and said 'I'd never thought about that!'

Seriously, though, I'm not convinced that these puke-inducing public displays of emotion appeal to women. Women hate men who are sissies after all.

Stan said...

No Richard, I'm not.

What I'm saying is that the style of politics we now have and the type of politicians it produces is the inevitable result of women getting the vote.

I'm also saying that the requirement for politicians to appeal to specific groups creates inconsistent and incoherent policy. Once upon a time they merely had to appeal to "voters" - now they have to appeal - specifically - to women voters, black voters, Asian voters, gay voters etc etc.

This is why we no longer have clear boundaries between political parties - instead they all have broadly similar platforms on which they campaign and those are all broadly liberal left because they all try to reach specific "target groups" (victim groups).

Although I agree that most women would prefer to have politics be about policy, there is no doubt that they are influenced - far more than us chaps - by emotive issues and that is a problem in politics.

Politics should be about making law that delivers the most benefit for the greatest number of people with the least inconvenience for the majority. By going after specific "target groups" policy is often aimed instead at delivering the most benefit for the least number of people at the biggest cost to the majority.

By trying to be all things to all people, our politicians end up being nothing to anyone - as a result we see people increasingly disillusioned with politicians and politics.

JuliaM said...

"I'm not convinced that these puke-inducing public displays of emotion appeal to women. Women hate men who are sissies after all."

They used to. Sadly, a lot of the younger women seem to quite like it, if the gossip in my office is to be believed...


Richard Matthews said...

Hello Stan.

I'm sure you realise that I wasn't being serious in suggesting you wanted to take the votes away from the ladies. I was half-tempted to put a semi-colon followed by a bracket - to indicate the light-hearted sarcasm in my first sentence - but feared that I may give you some ammunition for your irrational hatred column.

I do agree with your point about politicians focusing on various 'sub-groups'. I cringed when Cameron suggested opening British doors to persecuted gays from Uganda. Gesture politics if ever there were any...

By the way, have you any idea who this Harry Rose bloke is that posts on Peter Hitchens' blog? I've noticed that whenever I make a direct response to a post of his, it gets blocked by the moderators. That said, I realise that Harry never responded properly to debate anyway.

I think Hitchens is this close to banning him, but lets him stay there to keep the moral high-ground. I have no doubt that Harry Rose is the reason for the word limit in his comments section.

Hello Julia M. I'm still not convinced that women of any age could be keen on a man who cries. It's only acceptable for a man to cry during a film about a heroic dog who dies whilst saving the life of his master...

Stan said...

Hi Richard, I did realise it was in jest - as was my comment about suffragettes - but I often wonder whether I get my points across properly in my posts as they seem to be frequently misconstrued by what few readers I get!

Perhaps I'm too subtle? Or perhaps I'm just crap at getting my point across!!

I've no idea who Harry Rose is, but I've also had responses directed at him blocked by moderators. It doesn't really bother me - as you point out, Mr. Rose isn't really interested in debate - he just wants to twist meanings to suit his own chosen narrative. I just don't bother reading anything he writes anymore.

bernard said...

Rubbish, it's nought to do with appealing to women, and ALL to do with effeminate men and the 'feminisation' of society in general.
Read up on Edward Gibbons; he gives chapter & verse on "lack of martial ardour" and the aversion to "taking casualties" among its' Roman legions.
Ancient Greece went the same way; poncing around in togas and wearing flowers in their hair. Gawd!

Pass the sick bag.

AMK said...

Whenever something is described as being aimed at the female part of a constituency - voters, TV viewers, book buyers - I invariably find I don't like it. I'm starting to wonder if I really am a woman! The TV show The Bill was re-packaged in a way which (I read) was designed to appeal to women; I found it dreadful & stopped watching. I can't bear to even hear GB's voice, so I certainly wasn't about to watch this godawful interview (and with Piers Moron of all people!) but if people can't see it is a shameless attempt to manipulate them, it is enough to make ME weep.
I am girl enough to cry at the drop of a hat, and I DO actually like to see a man cry if the occasion arises. But not GB or any other leader and not on TV in a cynical attempt to get votes. Ugh!