In my last blog post, I made a promise to get involved in politics, and since then, I have been doing just that. I have just partaken in what is for me a marathon in terms of mental exercise and self-education. I watched the entirety of the two hour debate this evening on ITV. Seven party leaders failed to colour coordinated with their podiums and I attempted to keep pace with it all. The political canvas is a-flood with colour, but here is the point: never before has anyone needed more than 3 colours.
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon and Green Party’s Natalie Bennett celebrated this innovative move away from the “Old Boys Club” that has ruled Westminster for so long. Things are being shaken up.
Lots of people are going to make a big fuss about there being three women on the podiums, but this is an issue that is far from relevant tonight. This “Well done for holding your own in there, Love,” mentality is patronising as well as immaterial. Tonight, Sturgeon, Bennett and Wood were not women, and indeed, Cameron, Miliband, Farage and Clegg were not men: they were political leaders with arguments to present. Gender should not come into it
Of course, each leader projected a different kind of presence. As I’ve already confessed, I have only recently begun to engage in politics and watching this debate is the first time I have been able to take a comprehensive look at each leader and form an opinion. The opening statements were my first opportunity to take stock of each leader. As the ITV producers strove to introduce drama, slowly zooming in on each excessively earnest face, I was forming my first impressions:
I have a confession to make: I am 21 years old and I have never voted in a general election. Or any election for that matter. I know: throw me in the stocks and pelt me with rotten vegetables. I’m one of them. That’s what many of you will be thinking. That is unless you are, like me, one of millions who have failed to cast a vote in recent years.
Why haven’t I voted? A myriad of reasons (none of which is ever good enough to excuse my continual lethargy), principle of which is this: I do not understand politics. Voting blindly based on who my parents or friends vote for is not something I see as an option. If I’m going to vote, I will do so based on what I believe in.
I can snigger half-heartedly at satirical TV panel shows, because I know that’s what we’re supposed to do. I’ve been trained to laugh at politicians from an early age. I snigger because the basics have been made plain to me: Tories are selfish, upper class twits, Labour don’t know how to look after money and the Lib Dems tried to please everyone and failed. These are the major parties as I have been given to understand them by the likes of Ian Hislop and Frankie Boyle. As for the other parties, hardly any registered on the radar until recently. The Green Party and UKIP, previously stuck in the political paddling pool, are now dipping their toes into the Olympic pool and everyone is uproar about the implications. All this I express with the utmost disassociation: these are not my opinions. This is merely what I have gleaned from my own extremely narrow experience of politics. So I can snigger at a comedian’s jibe because I know that politicians are to be laughed at. That’s what I have been taught and what the majority of popular culture perpetuates.
I have never taken the trouble to understand it and that is my own fault.
But I have made a decision: I am going to change that.
In the lead up to the 2015 UK General Election, I am going to educate myself in the mysterious and confusing ways of politics. I no longer want to be in the condemned section of the pie chart labelled “Non-voters” that seems only to grown. I no longer want to be counted in one of the worst groups of offenders: Young People. My age bracket needs a kick and I’m starting with myself.