Election angst

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will elect a new government next week, and the comedian and political activist Russell Brand has urged people not to vote. That’s because, in Brand’s view, all politicians are in office purely for personal gain. However, after listening to a lot of voters being interviewed on the news this past week, it seems to me that it’s actually the electorate that thinks this way, not the politicians.

 Are you a hard-working middle-class person with a family?

You’ll be voting for the party that promises to hold town taxes and keep the economy on track, or possibly make free childcare more widely available.

Are you a student in full-time education?

You’ll vote for a party that promises to reduce or scrap tuition fees.

Are you in a low-paid job?

You’ll vote for whichever party promises to raise the minimum wage the most, introduce rent controls on private rented accommodation, and tax the rich.

Do you live in Scotland or Wales?

You’ll vote for a party that promises to “put Scotland/Wales first”, which is clearly not a promise that any of the national parties are in a position to make.

Are you waiting for an operation, or have an elderly relative who needs care?

You’ll vote for the party that promises to spend “whatever it takes” to improve health care and reduce waiting times. Oh, that would be every single party making that particular promise.

Or are you like me?

I know that I’m often spectacularly naïve and idealistic when it comes to politics, but am I the only person in Britain who will be voting for the party I think has the best long-term plan for the country as a whole, and not for my personal short-term interests? Have I totally misunderstood what democracy is for?

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15 responses to “Election angst

  1. Long term over short term means that it could get personally uncomfortable for a while. But aren’t we supposed to sacrifice for the greater good instead of think only of what is best for ME?

  2. It’s always important that we see the big picture always and that we vote for an improvement of our country and not just our personal self.

  3. I think it was Churchill who said, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for anything else that’s ever been tried.”

    I actually don’t mind that voters vote their own self interest, as long as they actually understand their own self interest. (Something I fear many voters here in the US don’t have a good handle on.) Yes, everyone acting selfish is worse than everyone acting for the common good, assuming that’s well understood. But it’s still far better than a ruling class acting only for the ruling class’s good. Or a dictator acting only for the benefit of his cronies.

    No system is perfect, but there’s a lot to be said for avoiding the worst 70%, even if you really wish you could get to the top 5%.

    Also be happy, because if you were in the US, you would have endured two years of relentless campaigning by now 😉

  4. Democracy is very messy. But, I prefer it over all the alternatives. I hope the elections yield good results for everyone.

    • True, although I have written about this many times on my blog before. The problem is that elections never yield good results for everyone, only for a fraction of the whole.

  5. I would vote for the party that aims to bring an end to corporate sponsored politics, and in the meantime, vote Green. Anything but the Tories. Then again, all of the centrist parties are chock full of middle class lawyers and it’s hard to distinguish differences between their respective sophistries, or their putatively opposing motives; plus, they’re all in thrall to the markets. Brand is no bad thing at the moment; at least he gives the disenfranchised young a figure to rally ’round and so cultivate political awareness.

  6. I will vote for the party promising to fight corruption and help create a fairer society. Which party is that?

  7. There are too many single issue voters, that is the problem.

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