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.