The other day I posted a rather tongue-in-cheek suggestion that with the success of the London Olympics and Paralympics in inspiring a generation, wouldn’t it be an idea to have a political Olympiad too. Then we might get some politicians that inspire people rather than repel them (Mo Farah for PM then? You heard it here first!) The idea seemed to rather capture people’s imaginations – some of it a little too Lycra-focussed for my liking (Yes, you Ingrid!) – so I thought I’d see if I could put a little more flesh on the bones.
I suppose the first thing to think about is what was it about London 2012 that got us all very excited and though it’s a little early to judge, I think they’ve done a great job at inspiring a generation. Why was London great?
The success of Team GB was a major factor – medal after medal and heroic performance after heroic performance, the success was infectious. Who can forget the euphoria of Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford all winning Golds within minutes of each other? And there was a similar night at the Paralympics with David Weir, Jonny Peacock and Hannah Cockcroft all winning Gold on the track. Amazing and inspiring. Mo Farah has probably, in the blink of an eye, done more for race relations than any awareness raising campaigns.
So many of the medalists seemed like really nice people. That right there is a major difference with most of our politicians. They don’t seem very, errrr, human. Occasionally a politician comes along who seems a lot ‘like us’ but they are quite rare. And – and this is the really sad bit – they are often chewed up and spat out by our Party-dominated politics. Being compassionate, sincere, caring and not always necessarily perfect are not the hallmarks of a successful politician. Is it what we expect? Do the media make it so? Or is it the nature of our political institutions that demand it? I’m going to say all three – but with political parties and institutions most to blame.
So how can we change things? Could we really inject the same sort of critical success factors into thinking about how to make politics more engaging, exciting and accessible?
What would a Political Olympiad look like?
I’m not sure whether or not it is something that is really viable…but who knows. Anyone like to suggest how it might work?