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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

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We’re not stupid so stop insulting us

It always surprises me how, after an election, anyone calling themselves a politician can claim to know why people voted the way they did... and even why they didn’t vote at all.

Latest up was, of course, last Thursday’s council elections. Big swing to Labour. Huge.

Locally and nationally the face of grass-roots representation changed its complexion. For the first time in a long time the hitherto confident and, well, frankly quite smug, were eating humble pie.

At least they should have been. In fact, they could have been, had they taken a moment or two to consider their words before recklessly speaking them.

But sadly, from Minister to humble backbencher, most gave little or no thought to what they repeated as response to an unambiguous result – which was more than could have been said of the last general election – and chose instead to insult voters.

It always happens, mid-term, they said. It’s a protest vote against central government’s necessary austerity measures.

The result was expected. Too low a turnout for it to be truly representative of the mood of the country.

Or in other, more simple words, voters don’t know what they’re doing, can’t think for themselves and we clever politicos knew exactly what you sheep would do.

In that case, why hold an election at all? Or is that what they’d really prefer?

Forgive my naivety. I remain a political ingenue. But isn’t the point of any democratic poll to allow the people to speak?

And, once having given the people their voice, is it wise to tell them you knew exactly what they were going to say even before they’d said it – because you’re so much cleverer than the people?

It’s hardly surprising so many potential voters choose not to bother at all. If we’re not to be given credit for thinking for ourselves, forming an opinion and voting seriously and purposefully on conscience and belief in the greater good, what’s the point?

Much talk of apathy being at the bottom of a swing away from coalition parties in local elections has been particularly irritating.

Whose apathy would that be then?

Where I live – and I have lived there for six years – I have never yet seen a canvasser or candidate of any description at my doorstep asking for my support.

No one has seen fit personally to put their case for the greater good, none has chosen to ring the doorbell and outline plans and promises of the work they will undertake on my behalf.

On the Saturday before last week’s local elections, I received through my letterbox a Tory leaflet – and an envelope from Christian Aid.

I can at least be sure the Christian Aid collector will turn up and argue his case for my money at some point – which is more than I can say for anyone claiming to know how I voted and why, even without knowing I existed.

Apathy? I ask again, whose apathy? Infectious, isn’t it?

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