Henry Thomas Buckle’s attributed aphorism about small minds discussing people, average minds discussing events and great minds discussing ideas gets me thinking about the modern political landscape.

I often hear people, despite not having the option to vote for a Prime Minister, describing how the two party leaders come across. The fact that only two leaders are scrutinized in depth is a measure of the shameful anachronism that is the First-Past-The-Post voting system, but that is for another discussion. Apparently, David Cameron looks genuine, and Ed Milliband looks weird. For a lot of people I’ve been talking to, this discourse replaces the actual policies enacted by Cameron’s government, or the manifesto pledges of Miliband’s opposition. ‘Ideas’ are rejected in favour of ‘people’, with a little sprinkling of ‘events’: the banking crash; spun as a failure of the welfare state, and apparently not widely repudiated by the electorate.

Meanwhile, the opposition looks to make hay from Cameron’s background: more ‘personality politics’, at the expense of appealing to people’s intellect by rigorously taking apart disastrous economic and social policies. The ridiculous mainstream media have basically painted this election as Miliband the geek versus Cameron the toff: playground politics for an electorate they clearly believe are simple-minded.


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