There comes a time in our lives when we realise we have to take an interest in politics. Take a stance on what is right in our country, who should govern, who has the best policies. When we have families and homes to take care of, when our jobs are affected by legislation introduced by the government.
I am nowhere near being politically minded. I do of course know that there are a number of political parties. I have done my share of voting in local and general elections for the last seventeen years. I never really thought hard about who to vote for though – I went along firstly with my parents choices and just never changed my mind.
Recently though, politics is intruding more and more in my life. Firstly I noticed that since becoming self-employed I have more time to browse news sites. I watch chat shows and debates.
Then, through the power of Facebook, I became exposed to some of the more in depth thoughts of friends and discovered that a number of them are deeply conscientious about the state of the nation and the world today. They posted concerns about the impact of reforms and cost cutting on the NHS. The recent revelations of the not so secret life of Jimmy Savile aroused not only the horror at his actions, but also debate about the management of the BBC and the fallout that the charities who benefitted from his patronage would now suffer.
It seems that no matter which news event is heading up the day’s outrage, the blame generally ends up at the door of No.10 Downing Street. The Prime Minister or one of his cabinet must have imposed some ridiculous new policy which has caused the current problems that are crippling the nation.
Except, it seems to me that while I have not been paying attention to politics, 3 truths have sunk into my subconscious anyway.
1. The public blame the current government for everything the moment that party gains control.
2. The government blames everything on actions taken by the other party when they were in charge.
3. Of course, no one trusts any politicians to be honest, even though we vote for them to run our country.
So, it’s time for me to take a stance on politics. I need to choose which party I want to lead my country into the future.
There is just one problem with that. I just don’t know where to start. After all, I don’t actually know much about the policies the parties are pushing and I don’t have the general knowledge of past events or a political degree to enable me to understand what the far reaching consequences of their choices will be. I don’t consider myself ignorant, I have had a good education. I just didn’t take much interest up till now.
What I do know is what general opinion has to say, based on other people’s comments on the internet or in the pub. I have heard my in-laws opinions, quite vociferously. But, are they right? Do they even know what they are talking about? Is public opinion of government really just a massive game of chinese whispers?
It seems that I have to find a formula to help me make a decision on who is most deserving of my vote. A way of sifting through the waffle and the guff and discover who is best placed to run this country the way it should be run.
I have ideas of where I stand on immigration. Based not on a detailed understanding on the figures, the impact of immigrants on our productivity as a nation, our unemployment or the finances involved. My decision is based solely on how immigration impacts on me. Am I somehow losing out, or actually does it benefit me to have immigrants working nearby?
As for benefits, well I know that generally people on benefits are considered scroungers. I am certain that there are a large proportion of those on benefits who actually do need them. I know a few personally. However, I am still sulking about being given only 6 months of Jobseekers when I was made redundant, having paid into the system for over 14 years, while other people who have never worked get given handouts and have just had a ‘pay rise’. It’s not fair. So, my opinion on benefits is based solely on whether it is right for me.
The same decision making process serves when thinking about other political issues raised over the last few years. Public worker pensions? I was private sector, how was it fair for me! The government claiming millions in expenses. I, like the rest of the country, was outraged. After all, I can’t claim for clearing the moat or paying the gardener.
OK, maybe that’s not very socially aware of me. Putting myself before the good of the country is probably a little selfish. The problem here is that I don’t think I am exceptional in my point of view. Politics is just too complicated. The in’s and out’s of foreign policy and the outcome of budget cuts on weapons advancement mean nothing to the majority of the public, who are just trying to make enough money to feed the family, heat a home and have some little luxuries in life.
We, the public, are not stupid. But we are busy trying to make our way through the increasing complexities of daily life caused by health and safety, political correctness and ensuring that our bananas are the right size and shape. We don’t have time to concentrate on the bigger issues.
So, if you want me to vote, provide a list of how it will benefit me. What will I lose if the other party gets in? After all politics, in a nutshell, is all about me!