You would never have a ‘hung X-Factor’ or a ‘hung Britain’s Got Talent’, where Piers Morgan invites Stavros Flatley to form a coalition group with Susan Boyle. In fact, if there’s one thing that these shows are good at, it’s explaining, often ad nauseam, what’s happened, what’s happening and what’s going to happen in unnecessarily simplified detail.
We could do with that in politics. But unfortunately it’s the polar opposite and it’s the reason that so few people are actually interested in it.
If you want to know the exact shade of vomit of Nick Clegg’s tie or the intricacies of Sarah Cameron’s tattoos then switch on the news or flick through a paper, but if you want any actual information about, say, the ramifications of a minority administration, or coalition government, then forget it.
I don’t consider myself a moron, yet over the past few weeks I’ve come to feel that I’d have been better equipped and informed to vote in the Star Wars Galactic Republic than in the 2010 UK General Election. As I’ve said before, it’s impossible to get any real information or facts. We’ve already been made aware by the media that we will be financially shafted by whoever is elected, yet none of them will admit it. No wonder the average voter is so disaffected; I’ve only had the pleasure of voting a few times and I’m already considering a permanent move to North Korea.
Politics in Britain (perhaps everywhere) holds little appeal to the average person because it is unclear in every vital area. We are all very aware of every politician’s latent ability to reel off an endless stream of baffling and often contradictory diatribe that we’re encouraged to believe is too complicated to be understood (even Brown has his own curious ‘stat-man’ version—reciting facts like a ticker-tape); frequently they bamboozle us with fabricated nomenclature that they never fully explain (Did you ever find out what ‘quantitative easing’ meant?); and they spend the rest of the time skirting round their flaws while sniping at their opponents. They drip feed us enough bullshit to keep us interested enough to trudge over to the polling station, without ever supplying us with enough actual information to know who or what to vote for when we get there. I expect it’s because if we did know we wouldn’t bother voting, but turn up at Whitehall en masse—a motley pack of rabid Dimblebys and Paxmans with pitchforks.
Policies and politicians aside however, what has also become startlingly obvious in this particular election – and more interesting than the usual concoction of lies and spin – is the flawed way in which our electoral system operates. As the predictions for a hung parliament abounded I found myself asking questions . . . How on earth can a party win more votes but retain fewer seats? How can a party win fewer seats but remain in power? How can two parties that have both failed to win the majority coalesce to form a ruling government? Is any of this fair? Is it even democratic?
It certainly doesn’t make any sense.
If we’re to believe the news today then some of the political flotsam should coagulate to form a sort of government by the end of the weekend, and whatever else they choose to do, it is likely that they will reform the ‘first past the post’ electoral system to make way for a fairer, clearer structure, which should at least allow the voice of the people to be heard, even if we still have no idea what we’re voting for.
“The difference between a democracy and a dictatorship is that in a democracy you vote first and take orders later; in a dictatorship you don’t have to waste your time voting.” Charles Bukowski