|'Deference' being sought in Planet of the Apes|
I've never believed that people in managerial or political positions are inherently in any way superior and I have, what I regard, as a healthy disrespect for authority. It's one of the things that got me involved in politics in the first place. The need to take on the pompous, the bullies and those who believe they have a right to the positions they hold or those who believe that no one has a legitimate democratic right to challenge them. When I was first elected and many years afterwards I inwardly winced when Council officers referred to me as 'Councillor' and I tried to steer them in the 'Call me Andrew' direction. Now I recognise that Council Officers referring to me as 'Councillor' is a way of them emphasising their professional detachment and being clear about our respective roles which is not the same as the deference I so despise. I live with the title, I guess I've earn't it.
The general populace has caught up and deference to politicians is not what it was in years gone by. This has got to be a good thing. It comes as a bit of a shock after 18 or so years on the Council to find that some people regard you as part of 'the establishment'. So one Saturday night a few weeks ago I'm wandering through Huddersfield Bus Station and this drunken guy shouts across at me "Hey! you're Andrew Cooper, my MP. I could do your job but I bet you couldn't do mine!", It was on the tip of my tongue to come out with some witty remark referencing what I thought his job might be but I decided instead to just give him a cheery wave and say 'Bye!'. Of course, and unfortunately, I wasn't his MP and a Councillor gets about a seventh of the salary of an MP. I also guess that he only hadn't the faintest idea of what I actually did as a Councillor (orwhat an MP did come to that) and that to him it would be something along the lines of just saying whatever came into my head in a meeting and who can't do that for goodness sake? Just as a drink or two can make people bold so can social media and I often read whimsically the inaccurate comments made about me or my role on the Huddersfield Examiner Facebook page by some people. The latest was someone who asserted that I could claim back my energy bills in expenses from the Council ' I'm afraid not matey!' I didn't bother trying to correct him. Maybe I should have done.
So has the lack of deference to politicians gone too far? I don't think so and politicians can worry too much about what some guy posts (it usually is a guy) on social media about them. We've just got to a certain extent 'suck it up'. Every now and again someone will cross a line but generally we've got to live with it or take them on as you see fit. A bit of a thick skin can be helpful to people in the public eye.
Deference and the love of positions for their own sake is, however, not dead. For some politicians the title as opposed the role, and the deference/respect that comes with those positions, remains a prime motivator. It concerns me greatly because a desire for a position is not generally a good measure of someone's suitability for that position. If that position is achieved by patronage to secure the deference of colleagues then that concerns me even more. So though some regard me as part of 'the establishment' these days I will continue to challenge those in power and those who seek it for the wrong reasons. I've never sought deference and I won't be providing it to anyone else any day soon.