Comment Writer Lisa McGrady argues that ‘Punch and Judy’ politics and catchphrases merely cause further political disillusionment
When Prime Minister’s Questions turns into more of a points-scoring theatrical performance, something has clearly gone wrong.
The media coins it ‘Punch and Judy politics’ and it’s no surprise, then, that political disillusionment is growing, and much faster than we realise.
The disillusionment is not a new concept; it’s been gradual. Political disenfranchisement is at a new high with the youth of Britain, most notably after the increase of tuition fees and constant changes in the education system. The ‘Punch and Judy’ politics isn’t right when people’s needs and opinions are being disregarded by some.
I watched the last PMQs before the 2017 General Election on Wednesday and felt like I was watching something similar to that of a Catchphrase episode. If politics didn’t already appear to be a game to people, it certainly does now. Calling a General Election during the start of the Brexit process being triggered probably isn’t what most of the British public… Europe… or the world had in mind. Politics changes fast. Period. And we know that. But I think recent events have only further caused political disillusionment for the British public or perhaps even ‘voter fatigue.’
Of course, the use of catchphrases is not unheard of in politics. Harking back to the EU Referendum, in June, the phrase ‘take back control’ was widely used and caught people’s attention. In the aftermath, experts believed that the use of this catchphrase was paramount to a win for the Leave campaign. Therefore, using the terms ‘coalition of chaos’ four times and ‘strong and stable (government)’ eleven times, by the Conservatives on Wednesday, is arguably a clever tactic. It immediately draws the public in which is further aided by the 20 point (at least) lead in the polls.
It does not, however, ease the pain that all parties will go through in this General Election.
British politics is in a pretty difficult situation at the moment with a looming second Scottish referendum and no government in Northern Ireland. Whoever gets elected into power in June will have a mighty task on their hands and playing a catchphrase, points-scoring game in PMQs and throughout the election campaign will not cut it.