The UK will be electing a new government in May of this year, and the coverage is already extensive. The media always give elections far more coverage than most of us want in terms of volume. However I always feel that we don’t get much in terms of depth. The party machines are adept at manipulating the media to set the agenda the way they want it. The media themselves have a vested interest in making it into a story. Between the two of them we geta very distorted view of what is going on and of what matters. And in particular, both of them home in on the negative.
Politicians know that negative campaigning works. Talking about the shortcomings of your opponents is the best way to trigger off fear, and fear is one of the strongest emotions. Attack makes good copy. The television sometimes looks at the positive things the vote hunters are saying, but the newspapers need to sell cellulose so they are only interested in rows and drama.
The metaphor the media uses is warfare. Marginal seats are described as battlegrounds. Activists are foot soldiers. Areas that support a particular area are fortresses.
But this is a really inaccurate way of looking at things. Politics is about people and policies of course, but it is also about principles. Problems need solving and political parties are our means of solving those problems. The reality is that it isn’t a battle, it’s a sales pitch. Or maybe a job interview. Or a mixture of the two. Now, when I have been buying something significant or hiring somebody I have an approach that works well for me. I look at all the positive things the product or the person can do for me first.
This works well. It is the only way to make sure you get the optimum solution. If you concentrate on the negatives you never get the best. If the good ones come with problems – well there might be ways round those problems. I often jot down the competing options’ good points as a way of clarifying my mind.
So that is what I have done. Here are my positive reasons for voting for all six of the main political parties in the UK.
(If you don’t read my stuff regularly, I am generally on the left of centre and typically vote Labour – but have voted for 4 out of the 6 parties on the list so I have opinions but I am not especially partisan.)