Pork barrel politics has been a feature of government in many parts of the world but most notably in the US, where state money is promised for local projects in order to gain votes for the elected representative of that area. It is bribery by another name. The practice of offering inducements for political gain has occurred periodically in the UK – when large sums of money were offered to Northern Ireland for DUP support of the May government, for example – but it has not been a prominent feature of British politics, until now.
It has been unedifying to see, during the recent tortuous Brexit tussles between Parliament and government, knighthoods bestowed overnight to wavering MPs, promises made to secure votes and then broken immediately, and most recently monies pledged to Brexit-supporting regions to persuade their Labour MPs to vote with the government. This is not commendable leading by example, rather it is a visible breach of trust which will not be forgiven easily.
Good comes from everything, however, and the more politicians from all sides and at all levels show themselves to be pygmies not warriors; subjective not altruistic; incompetent not visionary; followers not leaders; and unprincipled not working in the spirit of integrity for the highest good, change to an outmoded political system must come about. Sadly, there is little to admire in British politics now, and a despairing public knows this. It could and should be so much better, and one day it will be so again.
It is extraordinary that we are in this position, and also that commentators do not find it extraordinary, perhaps down to Brexit fatigue and a succession of examples of poor judgment and even poorer conduct that have become the new normal. The introspective bubble that covers Westminster will burst one day, and the reality of public opinion and public action will teach hard lessons to those for whom pork barrel politics, metaphorical or otherwise, have been tool and refuge.
If politicians remember that their every action and all intent creates karma for themselves and collectively for their country, their approach to their job of guiding their country in the best way possible would be very different. Some try to be their best still, but many have forgotten why they are there. The reminder will come, and soon.