Politics, that is.
I’ve never been particularly interested in politics, and that picture up there is one reason why not.Â This is part of a page from a fourfold (eight sided) leaflet put through our door by the Conservatives this morning, campaigning against the forthcoming referendum on a change to our voting system.Â It’s a blatant, emotionally-charged attempt to misdirect and lead us by the nose into the path the Conservatives want us to take, and it’s an insult to my intelligence.
Look at the happy expression on the face of the guy in front.Â And now look at the tired, hopeless look on the face of the guy who (according to the author of this piece of junk mail) will actually win, not forgetting to take note of the uninspired and beaten body language.Â Do you want that guy to win?Â Well, do you?
Now look at the guy in front again.Â Looks like a winner, doesn’t he? Confident, strong, determined – a man who knows where he’s going and how to get there.Â In fact, the guys in the red and in the yellow (the other ‘non-winners’) could also be described in that way.
Now, do you feel manipulated?Â Well … do you?
Our voting system right now is the ‘tried and tested’ system, to use the words in this leaflet, of ‘first past the post’.Â This is the system that we presently have in the UK to determine who gets into office and runs the country.Â Basically it’s the ‘tried and tested’ system we all know and many of us have come to hate: the candidate with the most votes wins.Â Simple as that.
Or is it?Â Because of vote rigging, mistakes, incompetence, underhand dealings and various other dirty tricks, the first past the post system has been letting various countries down rather badly just lately, has it not?Â It would be so much harder to rig a result or make major mistakes with a proportional representation system – and it seems to me that that is one reason that many political candidates don’t like it and don’t want it.
Now, I’m not accusing anyone in particular, and certainly not the Conservatives – the authors of the leaflet in question – but they tire me and they bore me and I have no patience with them.Â Why?Â Because there they are running a country in partnership with the very person who is mentioned by name and identified by picture on another page of this very leaflet. In fact, they wouldn’t be in office if they hadn’t been able to do a deal with him, because we have a coalition government right now, and it’s one which is working surprisingly well.Â So the very party which is maligning Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats and running him down in print is also sitting around a table with him and talking and smiling and working out deals and plans on a daily basis.Â It’s just not cricket.Â It is, in fact, a dirty trick.Â Talking of which, there has even been public talk of legal action against certain Conservatives* for ‘telling untruths’ during this particular campaign.
Does this leave a nasty taste in your mouth?Â It does mine.
Now, whenever I watch TV coverage from the House of Commons – whoever is in power – I’m reminded of nothing so much as a room full of overgrown schoolboys (because it’s mostly male voices you can hear), jeering and interrupting each other from their places on the benches.Â And these are the people who send round these grubby little leaflets and talk down to us as if we aren’t capable of understanding anything if it’s not cut up into bite-sized pieces and spoon fed to us – but in a form they want us to swallow, naturally.Â In many ways they are all as bad as each other, and that’s exactly why I believe some form of proportional representation would be a damn good thing for us, because that way, no form of extremism would be easy to maintain. There’d always be someone to put the brakes on and say ‘hang on a minute there, young feller-me-lad, let’s think about that’.Â And that would be a Very Good Thing, considering the craziness that goes on these days.
I’m not going to try to sway your thinking on this issue because you’re a grown up and can think for yourself.Â But I would ask you to exercise that brain of yours and not simply swallow the contents of ANY of the campaign literature that comes through your door.Â Educate yourself, for goodness’ sake and make an informed choice.Â If everybody did so, we would have a government truly chosen by the people, and that is all anyone can ask.
* By the way, the reason I appear to be picking on the Conservatives here is simply that I have not seen any other campaign leaflets this time around.Â I try to avoid them to preserve my sanity, and get my information somewhere less biased.