Revolutionary Times

Politicians need grubby hands


Forget Ibiza and Cornwall or some mate’s yacht. In this time of career politicians, where Jermyn Corbyn incites mania just by talking like a normal person, politicians need to get out more. And we, the public, need to understand them better too. So I propose that they all use two weeks of their long summer holidays working in the organisations on the receiving end of policy. Not for a nodding-andsmiling, helicopter-drop photo-shoot in a net hat, but for two weeks of doing something useful. Like being on reception, answering phones, cleaning up, helping out and engaging with the great British public.

Top of my list of suggested internships for politicians are government services: inner-city schools, hospitals and GP surgeries, social services teams, police stations, fire stations. Next up are the recipients of policies: everything from small businesses to big corporates. Along the way, critical services: airports, train stations, motorway maintenance teams and a couple of quangos and NGOs. The use of normal public transport – eating in canteens and inclusion in the after work social – will of course be essential. This is, after all, what good companies do: at Pret and M&S no one gets away without regular stints on the shop floor, so that decisions are never taken a vacuum. Showing that no one is too grand to do what needs to be done.

And when I say all politicians, I mean the Lords too. If you want your daily allowance, your grand status and the chance to influence government policy, get your hands grubby. If you’d rather not bother, feel free to hang up your ermine and potter home. But when finally, as most of us will, you arrive in a hospice and wish it was different, reflect that if you’d worked there for a bit you’d have had the chance to change it.

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