You can’t escape the General Election. You can try, but people are talking about it. Everywhere.
I understand why people are ambivalent about the whole thing. I understand why people say, “there’s no point who I vote for, they’re all as bad as each other.” These people are wrong, but I do understand it. Some of our politicians might be corrupt and self-serving, but they’re the only ones we’ve got and it’s up to us to decide who would serve us the best.
I’ve found myself fascinated by it this time around, in a way that I’ve not been before. I think the introduction of debates has had a lot to do with this.
As any good West Wing fan will tell you, debates are exciting. With the right questions, you can get so much information about the candidates and their policies that I can’t believe we’ve never had them before. For the people who complain about the bias and manipulation of the media, the debates are the perfect answer. There is nowhere to hide. If a politician struggles to answer a question, we can hear it. There is no editing and no telling what the other guys will do. The debates transcend the press and level the playing field.
All of this is dependant on the public actually watching them though as press coverage of the ‘winner’ of the debates has been all over the place. Each paper declaring their man the victor.
British politics just isn’t that exciting. I know more about the American system than ours because I’m a massive West Wing geek so I’m trying to learn stuff. I think I almost understand what a Hung Parliament would mean now...we’ll see.
So on to the debates themselves. I think some commentators were worried that the debates would focus on style over substance. I don’t think that is what has happened. I’m not sure there’s anything wrong with a little style though. Why shouldn’t we have a Prime Minister who is capable of speaking well and motivating people and who is good at explaining his views to the public. They all sound like important skills to me.
In the first debate Nick Clegg had a pretty easy task. All he had to do was remember his name and not fall on his face and people would be impressed. We didn’t know anything about him. He was the leader of that little third party that nobody took any notice of. He probably should have just been grateful he was asked to take part, right? Well he pretty much showed everybody. He was confident, personable, and seemed to find it remarkably easy to explain his policies in a way that sounded refreshing and new. He had a harder job in the second one though. After being declared the winner of the first debate, expectations were higher and he did his best to meet them. Gordon had been doing his homework though and was much more authoritative and aggressive.
I still don’t know who I’m going to vote for… but I know who I won’t vote for. It’s pretty obvious; I mean I’m a teacher for goodness sake. Any political party who tells parents that if they aren’t impressed with their child’s school, the Government will help them build their own, aren’t going to get my vote. Also, any party who produced Margaret Thatcher are going to have to work really hard to convince me they’ve changed. So far they’ve done a rubbish job.
So, here are some places you can go if you need some help making up your mind.
http://www.skeptical-voter.org/ These guys have a great list of questions to send to your local MP candidates to see where they stand on stuff. Or it’s great if you just want to read some of the snippy replies people have received.
http://www.votematch.org.uk/ This is good if you have no idea what the different parties policies look like. You answer some questions and it analyses your answer and tells you which party your opinions most closely match.
And this is good if you’re, well, human…
To steal a comment from you tube - Dear Brain. I couldn't stop watching. I'm so sorry.