Bury St Edmunds student Daniel Sillett, age 16, wishes our politicians would show a bit more maturity
The continent of Europe is sat in its armchair, watching the Brexit saga unfold into a full-blown reality drama series, just as Brits try to relax every evening to watch Coronation Street.
The world is revolving around what can only be described as a political playground. Not just because of the swings and roundabouts in public opinion caused by the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg, who forces me to constantly question which century we live in. Not even because the UK’s respectable, democratic reputation is sliding down the drain.
This week we saw a rare glimmer of something perhaps ever-so-slightly hopeful and grown-up. But is it really? Don’t hold your breath.
I envisage political meetings to be formal and sophisticated, but in reality… “I’m going to do Brexit!” exclaimed Theresa. “No you’re not!” yelled Jeremy. “Oh yes I am!” “Not like that you’re not!” retorted Jeremy. “Mr Bercow, Sir, tell Theresa she can’t do that in this classroom.”
Once or twice a week, the chimes of Big Ben reverberate through the Sillett household as the ITV news reports more “dramatic” Brexit chicanery. Those familiar green leather pews erupt in childish braying and calling out. A bunch of children howling at each other so nobody can hear whether or not anything sensible is suggested.
“I say to the Prime Minister, she can’t keep dancing around all the issues,” says the man with the white beard and red tie, causing an eruption of laughter as he cites the PM’s dancefloor antics. May responds by rolling her eyes into the next continent. It has nothing to do with fixing our future.
Bullying and barking at people is discouraged in school, for obvious reasons. It’s wrong and horrible.
So why do the leaders of our country – those trusted to set taxes, keep us safe and healthy – seem to embrace it, instilling an attitude of cynicism about politics?
Additionally, the development of social media is changing the debate, too. It is used, infamously, by President Trump, who does not help the image of politicians by his actions, including turning up to meet Queen Elizabeth and strolling around the Windsor turf as if he’s about to play a round of golf.
But this is how politicians act now. Elections are no longer about manifestos or political acumen (otherwise Trump wouldn’t be there at all).
It’s about the leaders and their images. They need to make themselves a social media discussion. What do you remember about George Osborne, to take one example? Not much about his budgets, but maybe how he liked to change his voice to try to sound less like an upper class gent… with hilarious consequences.
So where are we now? Perhaps a fantastic display of cross-party maturity will break out, as politicians realise their country is more important than their political party.
Somehow, though, I expect our UK system, the layout of our debating chamber and the entrenched traditions of yah-boo-sucks will be with us for a lot longer yet.