I am very engaged in politics and I do vote whenever I can. I never waste my vote, even if I don’t agree with any of the candidates standing, I’ll still vote for the least awful option. In my mind a spoiled ballot paper or a no show at the voting booth is a truly wasted one, that’s where I would give up my rights to say anything about what happens in politics from then until the next election. If I do complain or comment, and I haven’t voted or spoiled my paper, I wholly expect someone to call me out on it and tell me to keep my opinions to myself. I didn’t want to vote, you get what you’re given.
So I will vote, and because of that I’ll look at what all the candidates have to say and consider what they stand for. That’s why I turned over to watch the first Leadership Debate on television last night.
Unfortunately I didn’t make it to the half hour mark, and I will not be watching any more. The problem? The politicians.
You see none of those people, or the parties they stand for, really convince me that what they are trying to do is for the good of the country. Those bickering people who kept attacking what each other said and taking contrary stances, weren’t really standing up for what they believed was right for the country or the people, they all (and I mean all) have clear motivations where the good of the people is way down the list.
- The first thing that a politician wants is to be elected.
- Then they need to do what their party whip tells them to do, shout at the right time, vote this way, say this line, etc.
- Then they work to have their party elected.
- At that point they may have the ambition to fight within their party to become their leader, or to fight for someone they support for leader.
- Then they’ll fight to become Prime Minister.
- Then they might start focussing some time on looking to the needs of the country.
Throughout that list, and even if they become Prime Minister, they can’t truly focus on the people or the country for they have to continue to behave like a politician and sit under some strong restrictions.
- They have to follow the party line and the general principals of their party, even if that leads them away from the right path.
- They cannot agree with the other parties or politicians and must take a contrary viewpoint to theirs, no matter if they are right or not.
- They have to attack the other parties and politicians at every opportunity, spinning situations, twisting comments and quoting partial statistics.
How any of that tells us, the voters, who is right to lead the country is beyond me. I know I have some key facts I hold onto that sway my voting, but almost none of them have come from politician’s mouths.
The debate last night fell into the space which I hate the most, which we see all the time in Parliament, and highlights many of the above issues. The interrupting, the bickering, the constant attacking, and the statistic quoting.
The behaviour is like school children, you just have to watch Prime Minister’s Question Time or a big “debate” in Parliament to see how bad it is. No matter what party or politician you back, watching this for a decent amount of time will disillusion you with them all. Respect is out the window and it’s all point scoring with their colleagues and for the cameras. Trying to get the other politician to say something that the media will pick up on, or that they can feed to the media, to harm their image.
It’s embarrassing for the country and it surprises me that Parliament can get anything agreed.
The ongoing use of statistics annoys me too. A presentation I had from a statistics professional highlighted how easy it is to use them to present something that isn’t true, the example is rather rude so I shan’t repeat it, but without them lying it draws you to a conclusion that is false, using two statistics for a single year that are true.
You see politicians aren’t here to serve us, they aren’t here to do what’s right for the country. They form their opinions based on the current issues that will get them media space and ultimately elected, what their party tell them they can do, and the contrary viewpoint of the currently elected party.
They are a street of adjoining car sales companies. Think Arnold Clark, Evans Halshaw, Peter Vardy, and so on. Each of them have to persuade you to come into their store and buy a car from their lot. They want your money right there and then, no matter what the future holds for them, for you, or for that car.
That’s how I see politicians behaving, and that’s why I can’t watch them.
In the end though, I still won’t waste my vote and I will ignore the arguing and look to the hard policies and fact, and in the end I will vote.