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?