I Feel Like I Ought To Write A Post About Politics

But. Well. There’s not much to say, is there? It terrifies me that as members of the electorate go, I know I am more than averagely well-informed about the various parties, what they say they’ll do, what that means, and what they’d probably really do if they got into office. I am less biased than plenty, I’ve been brought up quite left-wing and yet in some ways I still am pretty left-wing and in other ways I am far less so than I used to be and I have thought about these things.

Before this starts to sound horribly arrogant, my so-called well-informed-ness (although who would call it that? Sloppy, sloppy writing, Jenny) is nothing like. I am well aware that I know nothing. My opinions are froth, what’s in the news and what’s promised and what each party and each politician says seems to shift and swirl like eddies of sand in a river, day by day, hour by hour. I do not feel like I know anything like enough to really be allowed to vote, and yet vote I shall. I know there are plenty of people in my acquaintance who are far more aware of what is going on than I am, but the frightening thing is that although I am ignorant I think that most people around are far more ignorant even than I am about the whole thing. My friend A, who again is one of those who professes his ignorance but has a better idea of what’s going on than I do, says that perhaps there ought to be some kind of test for voters, perhaps a multiple choice quiz – match the manifesto promise to the correct party, ten questions, go; and if you pass your vote is counted and if you don’t get the majority of the answers right your vote doesn’t count. Not a hard test, not an intelligence test, just testing whether you’re informed enough on a basic level to know what parties and what policies you’re voting for and against. Sounds mad, perhaps, but in many ways I think it would be a good idea.

I mean, is it really democracy when people are voting based on gut instinct, what they’ve always believed, or the fact that Gordon Brown’s public smile is really creepy or that ‘Dave’ Cameron went to Eton? How are those things really relevant? My smile in photos tends to the really odd and you know that tells you nothing about how good I might or might not be as leader of this country.

And worse still, this election seems to me not to be about choosing what is best for our country, but what is least bad, perhaps. Which seems to me to be no choice at all.

So, in a general election which is more crucial and less certain of its outcome than any we’ve seen for ages, we’re faced with a choice of politicians we don’t feel we can trust, a hell of a lot of unknowns, and the fact that most of us don’t really know what we’re actually voting for.

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “I Feel Like I Ought To Write A Post About Politics

  1. All you need to know is that Labour and the Conservatives are basically the same. They pretend they’re different, but they’re not.

    The Liberal Democrats are better than both of them. But they’re still not exactly brilliant IMO.

    Really we want to elect a government who will interfere as little as possible. Alas, that viewpoint seems to be unpopular these days 😎

  2. Jenny

    No, I don’t think the Tories and Labour are basically the same, to be honest. I think Cameron is far more Thatcherite than he looks upon first glance and I’m worried.

  3. I think Cameron is secretly a Doctor Who villain in disguise and as soon as (if) he ever gets into power, he will UNLEASH THE DALEKS.

    This is why I shall not vote for him. Informed opinions, anyone?

    Of far greater importance is the fact that the “its'” in your last paragraph has no need of its apostrophe. Remove the damn thing now, before I grate your legs.

    Ah, sisters.

    Cxxx

  4. Nah, Tories and Labour *are* almost identical. That’s not because Cameron isn’t “Thatcherite” (whatever that even means) it’s because Labour have drifted right over years. Look at the economy – the difference between the amount they both say they’ll spend is less than the margin of error! The idea that Labour and the Tories are massively ideologically opposed is frankly laughable IMO. They may try to paint a difference in their rhetoric, but if you look at Labour’s actions (especially in the last 5 years), they don’t look like the actions of a left-wing party.

    Labour aren’t exactly progressive any more – any pretence of caring about the poorest went out of the window when they abolished the 10p tax band (or introduced the NI increase, for that matter). FWIW if you want a more progressive policy, vote for the Lib Dems cos they’ll raise the personal allowance to £10k, which IMO is a stonking good idea.

  5. Photolosopher

    Regarding women and inequality, Labour has a policy that means businesses will have to submit a compulsory pay gap report if insufficient voluntary progress has been made by 2013, which I quite like. It seems like a stronger tactic than the vague “we will prevent employers from discriminating against women” line that many other parties trot out. (Not that I’m nearly well-informed enough to make a decent decision regarding which party is “least bad”!) xxx

    • Jenny

      A) thank you clare for noticing that slip! Sorry everyone.

      B) yes labour have definitely drifted to the right and that’s really why it seems to me to be about choosing the least bad option. The Thatcherism I was referring to was in reference to cuts in public services and rampant individualism especially in an economic context. This is just the impression I’ve got though from the papers etc and I would not claim that my opinion was necessarily particularly well-informed.

      C) that alone is almost enough to make me just hang it all and vote labour.

      D) someone recently made a very good case for getting rid of all the parties and starting over because each party covers a huge range from the truly left-wing labour old guard to the blairutes who really ought to just defect to cameron’s side, and similar/equivalent in the Libs and Tories; party membership these days seems to say nothing about actual political viewpoint. Something hugely needs to change – and I gather that labour have both promised and set a deadline for electoral reform if they win – although we might just possibly have heard at least some of that before…!

  6. “The Thatcherism I was referring to was in reference to cuts in public services”
    Whoever is elected will cut public services – it’s fairly well accepted that it needs to happen. And like I said earlier, the difference in the level that the Tories and Labour say they’re gonna cut public services is ridiculously tiny – less than the margin of error.

    Also, cutting public services is far from a bad thing – we’d be much better off if the government were much smaller than it is now, and much less prone to intervention in the market. I think people have forgotten what the point of government is. But that’s for a blog for another time when I’m not writing dissertation :-p

    Oh and if Labour wanted electoral reform, they’ve had 13 years to do it! The real reason they say they want electoral reform now is because the Liberal Democrats have been saying they want it for years, so by Labour saying the same now it makes the Lib Dems potentially more happy to form a government with Labour in the event of a hung parliament. It’s all politics, and it’s all about politicians trying to hold onto power rather than any real desire to do things differently…

    Party politics generally is always going to cover a huge range of opinions. No party will be right on anything. That’s one of the (many?) flaws of the system.

  7. When I say “less than the margin of error”, see the article I linked to earlier. Darling found £11bn that he didn’t realise we had, and that figure is much higher than the spending differences btwn Tories and Labour, iirc. The gap is something like 1% of GDP iirc, perhaps less than that. It’s really insignificant!

  8. “No party will be right on anything.”
    and obviously I meant “no party will be right on everything”. Oops :-S

  9. Jenny

    Heh, OK, sounds like you’ve done your research. I’m just very uneasy about the Tories. Facebook sent me a link a couple of minutes ago to this site here which although perhaps verging on the hysterical and massively spinny in itself does have a few good points to make.

    Longer reply later when I’m not mainly panicking and looking for my keys and generally just plain LATE.

    xxx

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