Tag Archives: philosophy

Let’s make it easier for young people to vote!

You can lead a young person to the polling station but you still can't make them vote: How do we get our youth to exercise their democratic right? [Image: theday.co.uk]

You can lead a young person to the polling station but you still can’t make them vote: How do we get our youth to exercise their democratic right? [Image: theday.co.uk]

Have you noticed how the mainstream media have glossed over the fact that so few people voted in the European elections?

Only about one-third of the electorate bothered to shift their backsides from the sofa to the polling station, and only a quarter of those gave UKIP its resounding (if you believe the BBC) victory.

That’s just nine per cent of the electorate!

The other nine-tenths of the country – including both voters and non-voters – didn’t want UKIP to win, and it is delusional of that party’s supporters to say the whole country got behind them.

The problem is, far too many people didn’t get behind anybody else.

My cousin’s daughter, at 18, voted for the first time last week. She said she found it extremely difficult to form any definite opinion on which party to support because it was almost impossible to find reliable information.

You see, she’s not stupid; she wasn’t going to take the parties at face value. She wanted independent validation of their claims, and that’s hard to find.

Obviously the mainstream media are a lost cause. They all have their favourites and it is impossible to get any useful policy information from them. If you were watching the BBC, you would know that UKIP want Britain out of Europe and an end to what party leaders see as indescriminate immigration.

What did Auntie say about Conservative policies, other than that they were offering an in/out referendum in 2017 if they won a general election next year, which is nothing to do with the vote we’ve just had? What was said about Labour? What was said about the Liberal Democrats?

I’ve got no idea, and I spend my life commenting on politics! What chance do these teens have?

The problem is that there simply isn’t a resource that can provide easy answers for young people. If they want it on a website, it would have to feature not only listings of what the parties say they’ll do, but information on the philosophies behind those plans – so readers can understand the proposed direction of travel. It would have to carry detailed information on each candidate, in each constituency and ward, to enable our young people to judge the character of the people they were being asked to trust.

It would be unwieldy and it would be controversial. Candidates would be accusing it of bias within five minutes of any such website going up.

My cousin-once-removed thought that local councils should have information on their websites but I pointed out that they would only be allowed to publish material from the parties themselves, without any kind of commentary at all; as such it would be nothing more than propaganda.

So what’s the answer?

That’s not a rhetorical question; it’s a call for suggestions.

Schools don’t teach politics in any meaningful way. Citizenship was supposed to have gone onto the curriculum years ago but this writer hasn’t seen any increase in political awareness amongst the young. Political representatives aren’t allowed to discuss politics with students unless members of other parties are also present, which means they can each obstruct the others from doing so.

Courses on politics at further or higher education institutions really are biased according to the lecturers’ own beliefs – look at Oxford’s neoliberal PPE course.

Young people don’t have time to cut through all of the babble.

So most of them walk away.

How do we get them back – or do we simply not bother, and watch as democracy is quietly euthanised within the next generation?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Modern politics: Give the other fellow hell – and the country nothing at all

131214perception

Politics is perception.

It isn’t about government any more. It seems none of the main parties are interested in gaining Parliamentary dominance in order to improve British citizens’ chances of leading successful lives, serving their needs by creating the best conditions in which they can prosper.

Quite the opposite – it seems clear that the intention is to crush those very citizens beneath the heel of the State (most hypocritically in the case of the Conservatives), forcing the people to serve the interests of the elected members.

What a sad State to be in. Politics is no longer even “the art of the possible”, as Otto von Bismarck once put it – unless we are discussing possible ways to fleece the electorate.

Now, the aim of the game is to shape the way the masses perceive current events. Control of the media is vital, and a series of strong statements – supported by those media but not necessarily by the facts – is considered all that is necessary to win.

It isn’t, as we shall see. But this is why we hear Tories screaming on and on, week after week, that they are clearing up a mess (no they’re not) that was Labour’s fault (no it wasn’t); that the benefit bill is too high (no it isn’t – really, it isn’t!), and the only solution is to cut support for people who desperately need it and put them into deep poverty and destitution (no it isn’t). These are positions taken by the current Coalition government and none of them are supported by the facts.

Then there is the running-down of opposing politicians. Labour’s Jack Dromey was on the receiving end of Conservative ire yesterday, after he tweeted a message about a lad from a Royal Mail sorting office being its “Pikey”. He meant that Gareth Martin’s nickname in his place of work was “Pikey”, after the character of Private Pike, the youngest member of the platoon in Dad’s Army – but Tories including David Morris went as far as writing to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, demanding an investigation into the use of a derogatory term for members of the Roma and Irish travelling communities and questioning whether it was an incitement to racial hatred, of all things.

Of course it wasn’t. It was an attempt to get a fairly simple idea into Twitter’s 140-character limit that failed because of a word that had a double meaning.

Meanwhile, Labour MP Sarah Champion accused Conservative MPs of making sexist gestures at female members of the Opposition, while they are speaking in the House of Commons. If this is correct (and it’s hard to tell, because televised debates concentrate mainly on whoever is speaking), then the intention cannot be as open to interpretation as Mr Dromey and his “Pikey”. Interestingly, I had to use an MSN news report as reference because the BBC News item seems to have disappeared – which tends to support my point.

Constituencies up and down the country have been going through the motions of choosing the candidates who will fight the 2015 election – and what a well-managed process it is! I wonder how many of these candidates were the preferred choice of their Party heirarchy, who then contrived to convince their members that the choice was democratic? But we were all shocked at the suggestion of corruption in Falkirk, weren’t we?

How many new candidates will be besuited youngsters, with scant work experience other than as gophers for sitting Parliamentarians, councillors or devolved Parliamentarians/Assembly members, brandishing their degrees in Politics, Philosophy and Economics as though they were magic talismans that would guarantee their entry to the highest offices in the land?

How many of these candidates will be brave enough to have a voice of their own, and how many will simply spout homogeneous party lines, carefully-worded so that they can apply to any constituency?

And if they win their seat, how many of them will stand up for the rights and livelihoods of their constituents, rather than obediently voting through every corrupt bid to drain us of power and money?

Not many, I’ll warrant.

Look at your own representatives – and the candidates who hope to replace them. What do you see?

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