6.4.6 Balancing Political Pressures
There is a need for balancing political pressures, to avoid distorting public debate and biassing political decision-making.
Unsolicited pressure forms part of negotiation, but it is one-sided almost by definition: someone wanting to put pressure on a government is unlikely to try to explain other people’s points of view. Politics is about striking a balance that benefits all the people, but this is difficult to achieve:
● The political posturing of politicians trying to gain and retain power in a democracy can polarise public opinion and make compromise difficult (18.104.22.168).
● Public demonstrations of concern (22.214.171.124) are made by people who are passionate about an issue, so they don’t contribute to balanced analysis. The pro-Palestinian marches during the Israel Gaza war in November 2023 illustrated many people’s desire for peace, but they also included expressions of anti-Semitism: “In London, 29 people were arrested for offences including inciting racial hatred.”
● People and politicians have their points of view reinforced by the ‘echo chamber effect’ of Internet social media (126.96.36.199). Social media are unaccountable, so balancing political pressures is difficult.
● Politicians can be as much misled by media distortion (188.8.131.52) as anyone else. They might hear only what they want to hear, on channels which are biased.
● Interest groups (6.4.4) exist to advance sectional interests and they often represent extreme opinions. They tend to be radical, in contrast to people who are content with the status quo, who don’t speak out and who may be in the majority.
● Businesses can distort the balance in a democracy, by using money to put pressure on politicians (184.108.40.206).
Putting pressure on politicians makes them aware of issues of concern but does not help them to decide what level of response would be suitable. Further consultation (6.5.3) is needed to ensure that negotiations are balanced and take account of the ‘silent majority’.