Don’t you just love a General Election? It’s such a feeding frenzy for the media people and political pundits, it’s like watching sharks and wolves masturbating whilst eating each other’s vomit.
I know there are many exceptions to the rule, but my own disdain for politicians and Members of Parliament is fed primarily by the corruption that is so universal and familiar in the UK that it has almost become an institutional orthodoxy. By corruption, I mean mortgage-flipping, employing relatives and fiddling expenses amongst many other commonly exercised indiscretions.
However, I recently worked in a technical support role at the 2015 Political Studies Association conference and this experience provided me with a novel perspective on politics.
I was present as a subcontracted technician and, as is often the case, I didn’t even know the subject of the conference before I got there. This is not unusual and not in anyway a problem as my role is purely technical. I have worked on many scientific, medical or academic conferences where I have no clue whatsoever what they are talking about, but I do know how to fix their technical problems.
As a rule, academic conferences are good to work on because, despite the boredom that is an inherent duty of the job, the delegates are almost always polite, well-educated and undemanding, and this event was no exception.
Surprisingly, political scientists are nowhere the top of the list of people I would prefer not to work with. Not all of them, of course, but media people generally, and television people specifically are some of the most aggressive and sociopathic narcissists on the planet. I suppose it comes with the territory, but academics like to show off their brains rather than their penises.
I didn’t see much of the lectures at this conference, but what I did see was fascinating and shed a very different light on subjects such as immigration that the supposedly flagship television news programmes treat as sensational propaganda.
Academia is just another self-sustaining bubble, but by no means an extravagant one, and this was one of the only conferences I have ever worked where I had to provide my own lunch. We all know there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and maybe the symbolic purity of this conscious omission was such that we can all claim to be no more corrupted by the experience of attending #PSA2015.
What you see here is a selection of cakes bought and shared by the volunteers performing the front-of-house duties, all of them either currently of recently having studied politics at the University of Sheffield. It was a real pleasure to work alongside them and the selection of cakes reflects the diversity and quality of our interactions. Such a shame that for us at least, just like the cake, nothing lasts forever.
As a nascent activist, I am getting increasingly interested and increasingly active in politics, although possibly more pessimistic the more I find out about the state of the world.
As the UK General Election approaches, it’s only going to get worse, or better if you work in the media. The tv people love it and they’ll get paid whatever happens, regurgitating the event into vox pops, panel discussions and exposés for months or even years to come, and they’ll get paid whatever bullshit they come up with.
That’s having your cake and eating it too.
However, when all said and done, the media is just broadcast opinion and can be switched off or ignored, and the same goes for the academics. They are not the people making dubiously-motivated legislation that might have a material affect on your life.
In the end, it seem that only government gives politics a bad name.