‘Politics’ is not an easy word to use, mainly because it means such different things to different people. One recalls the days, not entirely past, when, to the Presidents of many Women’s Institutes in rural areas of Britain, Conservative politics were not politics at all. To hold Conservative views was as natural as breathing and eating, so natural and God-given, indeed, that the rule about no politics or religion at Institute meetings was assumed to apply only to the introduction of socialist ideas into the peaceful Wednesday evening atmosphere. ‘Politics’, in this sense and context, was almost synonymous with controversy and disturbance of the peace, a distasteful and antisocial activity, a piece of bad manners. There probably had to be politicians and politics, in the same way as there had to be drains, slaughterhouses and public hangmen, but it was better to keep them safely in the background, as unpleasant necessities, operated by insensitive professionals. At General Elections politics burst through to the surface for a short time, rather like a volcano erupting, but the turbulence was soon over and normal people could then forget about politics for another five years or so. The poor might complain about their lot and the unemployed might emerge from their ghettoes and march to Hyde Park or the House of Commons, but that sort of thing could be kept under control.
KeywordsOxford English Dictionary Antisocial Activity Political Scene Modern Politics Political Language
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