Alex Hilton: MPs use attack as a form of defence

They cannot help it. Politicians cannot stop themselves vilifying those in unpopular professions. Bankers, for instance.

Alex Hilton
Alex Hilton

I have to confess, I have been helping John Prescott in his campaign to stop state-supported bankers receiving bonuses.

But it is not just bankers who are enthusiastically terrorised by MPs. Estate agents have borne the brunt, as well as mobile phone companies, foreigners of course, lobbyists and not forgetting young people, particularly if they are wearing baggy clothes. It is only journalists who seem to get off lightly, but declining to pillory the press is a survival tactic for MPs rather than respect for the fourth estate.

And so, when a banker finds himself in the path of the oncoming rhinoceros that is the political establishment, he has to adopt survival tactics.

The first option is outright capitulation. Give a heartfelt apology, do everything that is asked, and hope the rhinoceros charges on to the next target. This effectively kills the story by refusing to oppose it.

There is a confrontational option. The banker can raise the stakes until the politicians concede. This is a fantastic alternative as the banker only needs to get one party on side for the politicians to fracture and start attacking each other.

There are more subtle modes of attack available. Every MP in the country has state-supported bank branches in their constituency. It would be very easy for branch staff to email their own MPs to remind them that the support of the state means they still have a job. A little nudge from their own voters always carries weight with any half-decent MP.

But if bankers were truly like politicians, then they would seek to discredit those politicians who attack them by dredging up their personal lives, which is what politicians do to each other.

If politicians simply chose to act more honourably, then they would not feel the need to jump on other professions to make themselves more popular by comparison.


Alex Hilton is a Labour parliamentary candidate and founder of political blogs Labourhome and Recess Monkey

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