Keir’s Beers – Will S

Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour Party, was recently pictured supposedly in lockdown having a beer and curry with his co-workers. Since the leaking of this photo, many have argued that if he is found to have broken lockdown rules he should resign. The same has been said of Boris Johnson, in light of his being charged a fixed penalty notice by the police due to his attendance at his birthday party in May 2020. Boris Johnson has said he will not resign, for which he has been chastised by Keir Starmer, and so the question is, should he be given a fixed penalty notice, will he resign?

This is a question that has now been answered; Starmer has said that he will resign if he is found to have broken the rules. However, really this statement is more of a gesture, and it has very little meaning. Mr Starmer was the director of public prosecutions, one of the most senior roles in this country’s justice system, and this is key because it allows Starmer to know he will not be prosecuted. He will know with near certainty that he won’t face a fixed penalty notice, and so all he’s really doing is making a gesture to try and elevate his public standing. This is known as gesture politics, and it is one of the biggest issues facing Western politics today.

I have used the example of the Labour leader here, but this behaviour seems to exist on all sides of the political spectrum, and they are examples of gesture politics. These are everywhere in our lives, and I think the easiest way I can relate this to the pupil body is using the example of people reposting various politically charged posts on their stories. All these people are doing is pressing a few buttons, and then believing they are genuinely having some kind of positive effect on whatever it is they are supporting. They may not even know what it truly is, they may not even believe in it. But people want to be seen to care about these issues, rather than actually caring and doing anything about them. Another example, also largely on social media, is when companies such as Xbox or Waitrose change their logos to incorporate a rainbow to show support during pride month. Others may disagree, but I cannot see how this really helps the LGBTQ community, and if it does one has to assume the effect would be slight. Rather, this behaviour seems to benefit the companies most, supposedly improving the way they are viewed by people, as though they are socially aware and therefore you will want to shop with them.

Also on social media do we find huge amounts of extreme views or political opinions. I have seen many people our age sharing on their stories posts advocating the defunding of the police. This is a political view that is undoubtedly quite extreme, and I think that a considerable amount of the people sharing this content don’t fully understand the impact that defunding the police may have. What’s worse though is when one of these people sharing such content is challenged or even questioned as to why they think that. At this point they tend to cower behind their phone and refuse to talk. They might even block their terrifying enemy which has launched an assault on them by asking “how come you think this`?” I know many of my peers have had similar experiences having discussed such issues and I think it shows a worrying trend: we are moving to a society where people with different views don’t talk. They don’t debate or discuss issues because people fear deeply saying the wrong thing or that the person they are in conversation with might take completely unreasonable offence.

Ultimately, this is an ever-growing issue, and one I intend to discuss further in my next article on Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover. In the meantime, I ask that you see through these gesture politics and if you do partake in them, at least have the sense to research what it is you are sharing, and ensure it’s source’s legitimacy.


WS

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