The government is responsible for spending public money and determining how to deliver public services, while parliament is in place to represent our interests. The role of politicians is quite clear, yet there seems to be dwindling proof that political parties are good representations of what the nation wants and needs.
Political parties have lost touch with normal people. The policies and views of the government, along with the limited understanding politicians have of the latest innovations, have left the UK somewhat in a state of divide, where politicians no longer understand what the nation needs on an everyday basis.
Out of Touch Politicians: Out of Touch Policies
Examples of out of touch politicians are not in short supply. It seems that nearly every week there’s some big headline covering how the government or parliament has lost touch with the rest of the UK. These range from a lack of knowledge of the ‘real’ world, like Boris Johnson not knowing the price of milk – something that most Brits intrinsically know – to MPs attacking other MPs for simply having no idea what the public think.
Technological innovation is perhaps one of the greatest examples of where politics and normal people and the changing world are not quite in alignment. The recent Facebook hearings cast politicians in a poor light when discussing the impact and regulations of innovative technology. The results of the hearings brought into question the capability of politicians to properly regulate technology in the future.
Closer to home, the labour party – a party created to represent the working class – no longer seem to have the support of the people they’re supposed to represent. Just 1 in every 10 labour MPs come from a working-class background. It’s not just the labour party under the spotlight though. The conservative’s proposed social care reforms in 2017 hit backlash when the true extent of the ‘dementia tax’, which would require people to sell their homes as payment, hit the headlines.
So, what’s to blame for the seemingly inadequate representation of society by politicians?
Different Backgrounds: A Poor Representation of Britain Today
You don’t need to look too much further than the background of today’s politicians to get an idea as to why they may be so out of touch with the rest of the UK. The social background of the 650 MPs in parliament in 2017 are a far cry from an accurate representation of the population as a whole.
Of the elected MPs:
- 32% were female, compared to 51% of the population
- 52% were over 50, compared to a population with an average age of 40
- 82% were university graduates, representing just 14 million people in the UK
- 24% were alumni of Oxford or Cambridge universities, less than 9,000 people receive a place at Oxford university each year
When you factor income into the equation, MPs seem even further out of touch with the general population. The basic salary per year for an MP is £77,379, with many expenses also available on top. The median gross earnings per week in the UK, for full-time employees, is £569, which is less than half the yearly income of an MP.
Divide is Evident
The divide is evident at every level of the government. Amongst the Prime Minister’s cabinet at the beginning of 2018, 96% of the members were white and 74% were male whilst 24% come from selective schools.
The enormous divide between politicians and the general population shows that there’s always going to be great difficultly representing the true needs of the nation within the policies of the government – the life experience is simply too different.
Political parties losing touch with the general population is not a new problem. A decade ago, there was criticism over MPs and their inability to provide suitable representation. Today, we face the same crisis of needing a government that’s in-touch with the people they represent.
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