My friend Nigel wrote this and it’s reproduced here with permission, because I fully agree with it:
This is going to be preachy. I make no apology. And I’m British, which means I tend to randomly apologise throughout the day as a matter of course. So, if I do apologise during this extract from the ‘Goodwinism Manifesto’ (available at no good bookstores) then I didn’t mean it. It was simply a bi-product of my Britishness.
I’ve been thinking a lot about ignorance. Not about it being bliss, though I can see how it could be. More the ignorance of the general population when it comes to voting. Note: ignorance is not the same as stupidity. Ignorance is not about a lack of intelligence or superiority or any of that elitist crap. After all, I’m pretty ignorant about the way nuclear power stations work. Thankfully, no one has ever hired me to push red buttons in one, so my ignorance is irrelevant.
Incidentally, if anyone wants to teach me all about how nuclear power stations work, I’m all ears. Or better still the CERN collider, that would be COOL. I tried the wiki page, but boy was it long. As in, longer than my FB posts long. I’m more in need of a high-level summary. Ideally with pictures. Pictures are good.
But I digress.
Point is, there is nothing wrong with being ignorant about things that don’t really impact you. Yet every 5 years (although for some reason in the UK this is the 3rd year in a row) people are expected to put an x in a box for something that will impact every aspect of their daily life. And the fact remains that many people are ignorant about what they are voting for or against.
Is that their fault? Hmmmm… Tricky one. After all, I’m reasonably up to speed on politics, so why can’t everyone else be? Well, it’s not that easy. I mean for one, I’m a terrible nerd so I do spend a lot of time reading about current affairs and have done since the days of Spitting Image. Not everyone has that time. Some people are nerdy for ‘sexier’ things. Like music, or that show about Chelsea, the posh place not the football club. I think.
Secondly, the people charged with educating us on politics are notoriously shit at it. Whether it’s the Politicians themselves or the media that have a duty to inform us about current affairs, both could be politely described as performing somewhat below par, old boy.
I could rant all day about how the media (and by that I mean the newspapers, TV news and the now exponentially growing online news) have a primary responsibility to impartially inform us about the policies of those who want to govern us. But I won’t. Because I’ve done it already. The media serve only their owners, not their readers, and that ain’t about to change.
This ignorance is not helped by the rise of completely unregulated online ‘news’. Our opinions are continually reinforced by targeted and forceful shareable content. A quick scroll through my FB feed will bring up dozens of shared infographics with explosive headlines about migrants being the sole source of terrorism, or Germany having invaded France without a shot being fired, or Jeremy Corbyn being both a supporter of violent terrorists AND a pacifist who would leave us defenceless when the ‘hordes’ invade.
Don’t get me wrong, we on the left are guilty of it too. Yes, I am a liberal leftie, who would let all the foreigners in to rape our benefits and blow up our jobs, but if you’re reading this, that shouldn’t come as a surprise.
On the left, we share posts about the nasty hateful Tories. How Theresa May plans to allow posh people to hunt poor children with dogs, etc etc. We all do it. Although the right are way way better at getting the mud to stick, while the left are much funnier at headlines. 😉
On the subject of the Tories, I should point out now that I don’t actually hate them. Dislike their policies, sure. Feel they have been responsible for a continued rise in inequality, yeah. But ‘hate’ is strong very much the language of the right. In truth, there are good reasons for a chunk of society to vote Conservative.
No seriously, if you are earning over a certain amount of money (and I’m not talking millions here). If you have access to private medical insurance. If you are able to send your kids to a ‘good’ school or even a private school, then there are compelling reasons to vote Conservative. I may get preachy in these posts, but I’m not about to suggest that every person go and vote purely on conscience rather than on what is financially best for their family. That may sound selfish, but the vote is our greatest freedom and understanding that voting first for what is best for your immediate family and then for your moral compass is something most people will do. And to expect the entire electorate to change is delusional.
So if you are a Tory voter, I certainly don’t hate you. And I’ll defend to the hilt your right to vote that way. For some of you, I know it is better for you and your family and that’s that.
And this is the thing about ignorance. If you vote Tory simply because an online article told you that Corbyn would leave us defenceless. If you vote Tory simply because you believe that they are better for the economy or will be tougher on crime. Then I’m sorry (there’s that British apology), but you are voting through ignorance. Similarly, if you vote Labour simply because they aren’t the Tories. Or because your parents did/do, then you are voting through ignorance.
And I’m sorry (damn it!), but you do have a duty to vote responsibly. This isn’t the x-factor and choosing to vote for some tone deaf lovable little chappie because it’s funny.
If you can filter out the shit in the Mail, S*n, Guardian, Facebook, BBC, Sky News et al and recognise the difference between news and opinion. If you can look at what the parties are genuinely planning to achieve in govt while considering there is only so much money available to achieve it. If you can look at their record in govt/opposition and truly distinguish between the good and the bad. If you can cast your vote through calmness and reason rather than social media fuelled anger and hate.
Then you’ll be a responsible voter (my son).
Okay… I know I’m naïve, which is not the same as ignorance btw (I am seeing someone to sort that out, but the therapy with Dr Tesla and Dexter isn’t going well). I know I’m a preachy little fucker when it comes to politics. But, and I say this in all honesty, I truly have no idea who I’m voting for at this election, other than it won’t be someone on the right. They had their shot (in fact they’ve had several) and they failed.
What I do know is that I’ll vote for policies. I’ll vote for what I know to be the best choice both for my family and for the what I believe to be the wider country.
Preachiness over (until the next post).
Sorry…… Maybe…… Probably not.