Two things I hate about pre-election political debate

There are just ten weeks until the elections. In Brighton and Hove that’s both the general election and local council elections. I will consciously not vote for a political party this time. I have form on this. I have voted for individuals in spite of their party, although more often I have, in the past voted because of their party. But no more.

There are two things in particular that I find a real turn off about party politics. The first turn off is the shallowness of some party politicians who show just how out of touch they are by questioning how anyone could vote for their political opponent, or by rubbishing anything and everything their opponent stands for. Often this is articulated (I am using that term generously) through twitter when they pump out ‘comments’ from the doorstep about how betrayed/angered/disappointed/disgusted/etc. someone has been by the actions/inactions/etc. of their political opponents. Do they really think that they are trusted enough, or we the electorate are naive enough to think, “Oh golly, I read it on twitter so I had better change my vote”.

Some parties are worse than others, and some candidates and activists are even worse than their party. There are some notable exceptions, in all parties, who are positive and engaging across the political divide, who commend their opponents as much as their own side, but because of the Lobbying Act I could get into trouble if I mentioned them by name because, working for a charity, I could be seen to be encouraging support for a particular candidate even though they are in all the major parties in Brighton and Hove.

The second turn off is the lack of narrative from the political parties. In its place we have an institutional form of the above, where parties encourage you to vote for them because they are not as bad as their opponents: “Vote for us because we will look after the economy/NHS/kittens better than the other rotters. They are rubbish, we are great”. Once again, I feel a total lack of inspiration.

They can take it as read that we know that Party Politician A thinks that Party Politician B is rubbish/dangerous/extreme/hates kittens. They don’t need to waste time, theirs and ours, repeating this to us. Rather, they should try to inspire us to vote for them for positive reasons. Please, offer a positive narrative about what you will do. The challenge to politicians is to inspire us. You have ten weeks to do so.

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5 thoughts on “Two things I hate about pre-election political debate

  1. A great piece Andy, I could not have put it better. It reflects a number of conversations I have been part of for the last few hours – we need a way of registering these views on election day. Others I know want to find a better way than simply spoiling their ballot papers, only for them to be counted as though they are confused!

    • Hi Ian, thanks for the kind comments. It means a lot coming from you. I’m not advocating spoiling one’s ballot, just to vote for the candidates who are most positive and who offer a credible vision / narrative. I do support the idea of having an option of ‘None of the Above’ on the ballot paper coupled with the mandatory requirement to vote as they have in Australia. Until we have that there is always the option of a constructive approach to spoiling ones ballot by writing a brief protest which will be considered by the returning officer and the candidates/agents. Andy

      • I’d go further. None of the above would be a start. But I’d add:I disagree with the political process as it stands. A “positive spoil” if you like. That says: “I want to participate, but it’s not the candidates that I disapprove of but the culture.”

  2. I agree with you on the key problem being that the main political parties lack a compelling, coherent narrative. Ideology and core beliefs have been supplanted by the politics of the focus group, and when elections descend to a dull debate about competency to manage public services, as is now happening in Britain, we all lose.

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