I need to start by highlighting that this post is apolitical, so don’t worry, it’s not a promo for one party or another.
I’ve been meaning to post about this for a few weeks now and time has always got the better of me. Politics for someone in the UK is something they can’t escape from give the countdown to the General Election. I’ve been prompted to write now as I’ve had, for the first time in over 25 years, a prospective candidate actually knock on the front door and be willing to chat. Their timing was bad as a friend showed up about 2 mins after they arrived but the effort is appreciated. It’s taken 6 General elections for this to happen. In terms of candidates that’s 45 and 37 different people. In my mind that’s a pretty poor showing.
I studied politics at school and was lucky (though some might not consider such a late night to be so) enough to attend an election count. The studies were at a time when Yes Minister / Yes Prime Minister were originally airing and there were occasions when homework was to watch! Election night will always be a late one for me as I will tend to stay up until some sort of result is officially announced. It helps that it’s a Thursday night as it means it’s only a Friday at work to get through after very little sleep.
So what has happened to the traditional canvassing that we always see on the television? Based on my experience it is a rarity rather than a daily event as seen on the news. I’m sure that working full time has some effect and possibly there is the view that disturbing people in the evening isn’t going to win votes. Leaflets come through the door almost daily, but at a time where engagement with a significant percentage of the voting populous won’t be in. Given that, is it any wonder why people feel disengaged with the system? I accept that evenings aren’t great either given people don’t want to be disturbed during dinner etc, however it’s a once in 5 year event, rather than the daily phone calls of recorded messages that really do annoy. I also suspect that given the chance, people would like to be able to talk with prospective candidates.
I am sure that social media has taken over some of it, with people being far more accessible online and able to recieve and answer questions at will, any time of the day. However this doesn’t match the actual discssion on a doorstep where answers can’t be thought about and crafted before a reply. With an email / tweet you can’t read the gestures that can give much away without intention. With those risks on a doorstep, one can understand a desire to move things online whenever possible, and people’s infactuation with social media only helps this to establish itself as a main type of communication. It’s ashame as I feel too much is lost losing the chance of personal interaction and whatever some may suggest, communicating though social media is not personal interaction.
There are currently just over two weeks to go. That’s 14 days to see if any other candidate is willing to knock on my door. Given the above, I’m not holding my breath. However, for someone who has an interest in politics, the next fortnight could become very interesting as each party seeks an advantage. What is certain, with the way the professionals expect the election to go, is that it is a different election to anything we have seen for a very long time. Personally, in previous elections, I’ve had an inkling of what the future after an election may be like. However this time, after May 7th, I have no ideas what the next 5 years of government could bring.