Tomorrow I’ll be speaking at the Xchange Summer School on political participation. Now speaking as someone who has never been a serious member of any political party, I’m looking at it from an outsider’s pov.
There are a bunch of conundrums facing politics. Participation in political parties is dropping across the board. In Northern Ireland the numbers of people driving even the bigger parties are a fraction of the brigades of even the recent past.
Professionalisation of the business of politics (and government) has created a distance between the ‘entitlement space’ – where politicians, activists and the permanent government congregate – and the polis where the vast majority of ordinary people live.
I’ll argue that people’s stories and the grand narrative of the big political/government projects generally live in different places, leaving those political projects that have the capacity to change cautious, indecisive and incapable of telling a straight truth.
So might do we create a confluence of people out which comes renewed allegiance to a common purpose between, for instance, the political centre where the big resources are, and ordinary people wherever they live, be it Sherriff Street or the local parish.
Without that we risk being permanently suspended above the two competing and dissociative memes of Project Anger and Project Fear.