There were reports yesterday that Dan Martin, a teacher and athlete from Peterborough plans an 18-month triathlon, including swimming the Atlantic. A doddle compared with the struggle to keep the idea of party politics alive, in the face of the findings of the British Attitudes Survey published last week.
I missed the BBC's Mark Easton's blog highlighting how nearly 50% of respondents appear indifferent about voting in a general election. He went into the detail. In short, only one in six of the electorate feels strongly about any political party, compared with nearly 2 in 5 in the run up to the 1987 GE.
At the root of this problem IMHO are political party leaders and their contempt for having to give account of themselves to their members, let alone the public. In power they pass laws demanding accountability from everyone else. Labour leader Gordon Brown was mocked in in PMQs today in the House of Commons by Conservative leader for having never been elected. While sloppy political journalists continue to opine about re-electing the Prime Minister in the same breath as the General Election, those of us trying the revive party politics face a tsunami.
Party politics is a collective activity for like minded people to take part from a neighbourhood/electoral ward level, day in day out. Putting a 'X' on a ballot paper, or 1,2,3 (if the latest Labour Government rabbit out a hat were ever to make the Statute Book) comes round at least once every five years. It marks the culmination of party politics whether at a parish council, local council, devolved nation, national or European level. Forget about what marks the difference between the political parties and they end up like soap in a supermarket. Labour should want its members and supporters to know precisely why they will be voting when the GE is called. That can only be achieved by continuous engagement, political debate and involvement in decision-making. That is why belated attempts to engage members in shaping the Labour Party 2010 Manifesto still matter. Hence the race to make it radical here, here and here.