Politics as a family business

Fine piece by the Guardian’s John Harris:

Of course, whether in its democratic incarnation or during eras when elites could shamelessly perpetuate their power, British politics has always had strongly dynastic elements – from Pitt the elder and younger through to the Chamberlains and Churchills. Labour has plenty of past form here, too: the Benns (lately joined by Emily Benn, who stood at the last election aged 18); Estelle Morris and her MP father Charles; Margaret Jay and her dad, James Callaghan. Some, in fact, would say that nepotism has long been a pathology deep in the Labour movement’s being: witness “sons and daughters” housing policies, or the jobs once passed along bloodlines by the print unions. But these are times when politicians should be painfully self-aware, and sensitive to the fact that, as this week’s grim turnouts proved, these are awful times for their trade…

Talk about a vicious circle: parties look like bizarre cults, so no one joins them; no one joins them, so they look ever more like bizarre cults. In the US, we’re told, 2016 may see Hillary Clinton squaring up to Jeb Bush, yet another example of money and privilege so misshaping politics that these things become the norm.

I hope he’ll take a look at the media as well at some point. The dynastic tendency is even stronger there. And thanks to the rise and rise of internships, it’s likely to get even worse.


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