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Carol Craig is the Centre's Chief Executive. She is author of The Scots' Crisis of Confidence, Creating Confidence: A Handbook for Professionals Working with Young People, The Tears that Made the Clyde: Well-being in Glasgow and The Great Takeover: How materialism, the media and markets now dominate our lives. She is Commissioning editor for the Postcards from Scotland series. Carol blogs on confidence, well-being, inequality, every day life and some of the great challenges of our time. The views she expresses are her own unless she specifically states that they reflect the Centre's thinking.

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Posted 06/05/2005

With wall to wall coverage of the general election Iíve been thinking a lot recently about my disenchantment with politics. Politics, you have to understand, was one of my great interests when I was young. My two degrees are in politics. I briefly lectured in politics. When I went to work at BBC Scotland I was a researcher on a political tv programme Ė Agenda, for those of you old enough to remember. And yet here I am bored rigid by the whole affair. No doubt some of my change in attitude is a sign of the times. Interest in party politics, as measured by electoral turnout, has waned considerably since the 1950s. Young people are more motivated by single issue groups than electoral politics. Part of the problem is convergence of parties and ideas. Politics is now more about personalities, style, loyalties than it is about big ideas. This not only breeds cynicsm but also makes politics a pretty dreary affair. But as a result of reading a really interesting book recently called The Progress Paradox, by Gregg Easterbrook, Iím also aware that this low-key, Ďmanage the systemí better has its advantages. As he points out much more harm has been done over the centuries by leaders, or parties, with big visionary ideas. (Hitler, Stalin and various other dictators spring to mind.) So competing for votes in the centre ground and managing the system better might deliver boring politics but at least it doesnít do much damage.

My disenchantment with politics, however, goes beyond whatís happening in the political world. It has also happened as a result of changes in my personal circumstances. Iíve always been keen on the idea of social progress Ė making the world a better place. Like many I saw politics as the only way to do this. But since I became involved in training, over fifteen years ago, Iíve become much more interested in how we can bring about a social transformation through individuals making a change in their own lives. The great thing about this approach is that we arenít dependent on anyone else to do anything nor do we have to wait to election times. The opportunity exists all the time to do things differently and to shift our perception.

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