Thursday, 25 March 2010

Changing minds and beginning to care

Today is the 3rd week of the TYSIC...and it has been a bit of a slow one for me. The comments I received for the last post have got me thinking. As such this blog is not likely to be eloquent or pretty but it’s something I want to write and as such is an attempt for me to get off the fence.

Whilst I will in no way use this blog as a platform for campaigning I have been thinking about how one decides to vote for a political party. Studying politics has certainly given me an insight into the historical ideologies of the parties but these are becoming increasingly irrelevant when elections are becoming based on personality rather than policy. I think this is the reason for the apathy to politics; politicians are not great people. They are mainly middle aged men who have lived a privileged life have limited experience of what it is like to live a ‘normal’ life – if there is such a thing, and since entering politics have become truly disillusioned, forgetting why they cared so much in the first place (if they weren’t born into it that is). Our political system is not perfect but, the idea is that political party’s counter balance their leaders shortcomings to provide the opinions of those in their electorate, combined with the work of lobbies. With this in mind it seems stupid that we would look to one man (or woman) to lead our country, in the way that the media portray our red, blue and yellow men at the moment.

The Americanisation of Britain has enabled the media to offer comparisons to the charismatic primaries of the States without explaining the role of the President to the British population. I am not about to go into American politics here, it is a complex system which leaves even the most studious of my colleagues utterly perplexed as to how a country can be run in such a way. The important thing to note is that the president is not all powerful and is essentially a spokesperson on international relations; (there are many other duties and if you want to learn more I am happy to recommend books) so unsurprisingly he is the only part of politics we encounter on a regular basis. Our Prime Minister does not have the same job description; the forthcoming televised debates are only likely to sensationalise our politicians even further, turning them into kinds of mini-celebs who should really be using their time to get to know what it is people in Britain really want.

The failure of the education system to teach children about politics means it is unsurprising that few people care or even understand politics. The likelihood of a poor turnout of voters this year is pretty much guaranteed, but this may not be a bad thing. A kick start into investigations why people do not vote is likely to publicise voting as a whole and hopefully future generations will find it incomprehensible that over half of the population did not care enough about their country to get off their backsides and vote. Nobody said democracy was supposed to be easy, and I do not advocate voting for the sake of it. A quick Google search should give people an idea of the policies political parties are likely to advocate and the stances they take on issues are well documented in manifestos. If that seems too much like hard work then sites like this should offer an insight

This post has not been TYSIC-centric, however I hope it has got one or two of you thinking (one of my TYSICs) that it is not too late to start caring about politics and maybe when your kids ask ‘why didn’t anyone vote in 2010?’ you can tell them that you did and you learnt something in the process.


  1. That was a very good post, much more unbiased than when I try.

    I totally agree that voter apathy is a big issue, and people do need to care about how their country is run

  2. i'm starting to feel personality-politics is like one of those chiniese finger traps where you put your finger in but can't get it out. is there a feasible way to move in the opposite direction? to move away from simplified, celebrified, media politics?(that's not a rhetorical question, you sound like you know more about politics than i do.)

  3. Hi Becky! Apathy and the Americanisation of politcal parties in Britian and the West is a response to the narrow ideology that politcal parties must adhere to due to the hegemony of neo-liberal capitalism. The fact that there is no alternative and no real difference between the parties means that small cleavages become chasms in the eyes of the media giving us the appearence of real choice, when it is within the economy that the real power lie's