Opinion, Politics

WiBu Time

WiBu left a comment:

How did you vote if you do not mind me asking? You definitely seem like an SNP guy to the core, it flows through your veins (but I guess you voted Liberal).

Thanks WiBu, that’s an excellent question. I’ll answer it here so all my loyal readers can get to know me a bit better.

One thing: I can’t tell if you’re being serious in the second sentence1. Do you actually think I seem like an SNP guy? And why do you think I voted for the Liberal Democrats? (I suppose my Twitter stream makes my dislike for David Cameron and Gordon Brown clear).

Anyway, I was talking about this issue with my friend George recently – is it valid to refuse to talk about ones voting practices? George thought that refusing didn’t make sense2, yet I couldn’t give a proper answer. My gut feeling is that, yes, peoples’ desire to keep voting private should be respected… but why would someone want to keep it private? If you believe in a particular party, why wouldn’t you want to explain yourself and encourage others to vote with you?

I think I’ve found a good enough reason: that it’s just one more battle that you don’t want to get into. If I knew how all my friends voted, I’d probably think less of a bunch of them. Perhaps that would be a good thing – surely someone who votes Conservative isn’t someone worth being friends with. I happen to think that’s not true – they might just be misguided, or maybe I am. But I don’t want to spend my time persuading3 anyone, and I don’t want my friends spending their time persuading me – which is what I think would inevitably happen.

For example, I was in a pub recently when I bumped into a friend who I hadn’t seen for months. We got talking about the election. He called me an idiot4 for liking the Liberal Democrats – apparently they just say what they think the voters want to hear5; they have no principles. He was going to vote for Labour due to their support for education. Ha.

Nothing good came of the discussion, and I think we left with each thinking slightly less of the other than before.i know I should be able to avoid judging people, but I’m happy not to know who my friends vote for, and I’m happy for them to not judge me for my voting practices.

I want to end this section with the sentence: ‘life’s too short’. Too short for what? Deciding how the country is run? If you think that that’s the most important thing in life, and that debating politics with each other will make a difference, then maybe life’s too short to do anything but debate.

Democracy works out alright without us having to talk about it all the time. That’s why we elect representatives, and I think most people are sensible enough to make a decent voting decision. We’re never going to elect the BNP, though we might have to suffer with the Tories from time to time. I’d rather spend my time having a simple, relaxing drink at the pub with my friends than talking politics all the time.

ASIDE: Yes, I realise I’m exaggerating a bit. This whole post is a bit of a mess. It doesn’t have to be a choice between 100% debating about politics all the time and enjoying life, I know. But I can understand someone just not wanting to get into it at all. I just don’t know if I can fully intellectually justify it. What do you think?

After all that, I’m not saying that I won’t talk about politics and my beliefs.

I don’t think I’m particularly aligned with the SNP. For starters, I don’t know that much about them6. Secondly, I know that their ultimate goal is Scottish independence7. Thirdly, from watching a party political broadcast this evening I’ve learnt that – at this election at least – the SNP’s immediate aim is to ‘give Scotland a voice’. But I don’t think that Scotland needs its own special voice any more than, say, Yorkshire needs a voice or Newcastle needs a voice or Cornwall needs a voice. Yet I realise that I could be completely wrong about this. Also: I don’t think they’re evil, and they’ve done some good stuff.

My constituency is Perth & North Perthshire. This year there are 5 candidates standing for the General Election: one each for Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Conservatives and the SNP, plus a Trust candidate who happened to be the 2005 Conservative candidate (so basically another Tory).

I won’t vote for the Labour party or for a Tory in their current states, leaving me with the Liberal Democrats and the SNP. From what I’ve learnt, I support the Liberal Democrats more. In an ideal system, I would vote for the Liberal Democrats, and my vote would proportionally increase their power in government.

Sadly it’s not that simple, as I’m sure you know. Look at the results from 2005. Labour got 35% of the votes but 55% of the power; the Liberal Democrats got 22% of the votes but 10% of the power! It doesn’t make sense.

(By the way, a situation where the Liberal Democrats won more votes but less seats than Labour would be outrageous.)

My constituency is a fight between the SNP and the Conservatives. It’s almost certain that a vote for a Liberal Democrat will do absolutely nothing to help put a Liberal Democrat in power. Either a Conservative will win, or an SNP candidate will, and none of the other votes matter.

Who are you voting for this year, Mr. WiBu?



Footnotes:
  1. Is it another Cher lyric? 
  2. I’m sure this is a huge misappropriation, but I don’t care. 
  3. Or perhaps ‘reguiding’. 
  4. Not necessarily literally what happened, but that’s not the point. 
  5. Wait, isn’t that what all politicians do? 
  6. I realise that I should have found out more about them, then. 
  7. I don’t agree with that – partly explored in my post on Nationality

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