Someone once said that politics is, of course, “showbiz for ugly people.” So, on that basis, I feel like I’ve really arrived.
The other thing to think of is what an honor it is, as a politician, to give a TED talk, particularly here in the U.K., where the reputation of politics, with the expenses scandal, has sunk so low.
There was even a story recently that scientists had thought about actually replacing rats in their experiments with politicians. And someone asked, “Why?” and they said, “Well, there’s no shortage of politicians, no one really minds what happens to them and, after all, there are some things that rats just won’t do.”
Now, I know you all love data, so I’m starting with a data-rich slide. This, I think, is the most important fact to bear in mind in British politics or American politics, and that is: We have run out of money. We have vast budget deficits. This is my global public debt clock, and, as you can see, it’s 32 trillion and counting.
And I think what this leads to is a very simple recognition, that there’s one question in politics at the moment above all other, and it’s this one: How do we make things better without spending more money? Because there isn’t going to be a lot of money to improve public services, or to improve government, or to improve so many of the things that politicians talk about.
So what follows from that is that if you think it’s all about money — you can only measure success in public services in health care and education and policing by spending more money, you can only measure progress by spending money — you’re going to have a pretty miserable time.