I’ve tried not to comment much on the whole Rennard business because I’m pretty sure I don’t really have anything to add to the reams of online commentary on it. I’m very aware that my position as a white, straight, cis, male, middle class British person in a position of minor authority makes me extraordinarily privileged by any reasonable assessment, and any commentary I make on it would be from that position of privilege.
(And in one of those great blogging coincidences, this post by Guy Sigley explores some of that in more depth)
What’s prompted this post is a wider thought about politics prompted by listening to a discussion on Radio 4′s Today this morning – though I’ve heard it said many times, long before the Rennard allegations went public – that politics is a tough business and all people involved in it need to toughen up and get a thick skin. How did we get to the position where insidious and low-level bullying became an integral part of the system? Yes, it’s pervasive throughout culture, in the public and private sectors, but why are we content to allow it to continue in politics?
Part of the problem is that the process of politics has become effectively separate from the world it’s supposed to connect to. As I wrote last month, we’ve got to a point where ‘politics’ now solely refers to the political process, and we end up treating all that as nothing more than one big game, more obsessed with who’s up and who’s down, rather than what they’re actually doing. When maintaining or improving your position in the hierarchy becomes more important than anything you might actually do with that position, is it any surprise that politics becomes just an excuse for a set of dominance behaviours?
I wish I had some concise and simple solution to offer here, but I don’t. All I know is that we need to change the way we do things, but that’s going to take a lot more than just a soundbite.