Election time – excited or switched off? Prepare yourself for lots of words and more words!

election timeWell, ‘tis the season (again) for us to be bombarded with promises, allegations, rhetoric and aspirations. Yes – it is General Election in the UK in six weeks time. And the challenge, for everyone is three fold:

To listen

To be engaged and interested

To take action.

Sounds simple? Not really and here are some of my thoughts as to why .

Firstly listening to all the major parties and others commenting on the General Election is hard work. It’s a noisy world out there when it comes to politics. Of course there are the politicians themselves. But what about the political commentators who are approaching this General Election as a great sport. Between them all they are putting every effort into ruminating, anticipating, dissecting and pondering…Facebook feeds and twitter are abounding in criticisms, questioning, campaigning and often, adopting a ‘why should you be bothered’ approach

With so much noise going on, even if you want to listen, it is hard to know who or what to trust. It is distracting if you want to make an informed choice. It takes concentration to truly listen and with a plethora of information/opinion/nonsense going on in the background, few of us have the time or the energy to fight our way through it.

And of course, it’s almost de-rigeur to poke fun at the language of politicians. It’s the fashion to be scathing and be cynical when we hear the same words being used, the seemingly empty promise – there is real sense that style is taking precedence over substance. How do we know whether people are genuine or not when they are talking about our future? What is it that guides us to believe one view or another?

I believe that when we speak to people face to face, ask them questions, hold them accountable then we start to build a relationship. Trusting the newspapers, Facebook and twitter to be a reliable and non partisan filter is too dangerous.

If you are one of those who want to check out the facts being bandied about in the run up to the election, then check out this link. And if you want to listen…then go and speak with relevant people.

Even if we can hear what is being said and make sense of what is going on, why should we? A brief conversation with a 24 year old acquaintance revealed a distinct lack of interest in politics, a feeling that this didn’t affect her and an sense of overwhelm that she didn’t understand politics and wouldn’t even know where to start should she decide to participate in the election. Is this just a youth thing? I asked a couple of other, shall we say more mature, acquaintances and even they were so confused with lack of credible options that not voting was seeming a good approach to take. Oh dear!

Engaging and interesting people in taking part in democratic process relies on those people feeling that what is being discussed is both relevant to them and connects with them at a personal level. It also a two way process – to be engaged and interested means that those involved in politics need also to be engaged and interested in the very people they are there to represent. Sadly, what I am seeing is that this connection doesn’t exist everywhere…and democracy is going to be the worst for it.

When people feel they are not involved, not listened to then they lose their voice and become dis-engaged.
11117915_799403410145292_3689056661164650773_nAnd what about taking action? If you add up all the people who didn’t vote in the last General Election, the numbers were in total large enough to have made a significant difference. But as long as we believe that as a single vote we can’t have an impact, then any outcome for an election is going to be skewed and not especially representative. And then so the cycle begins again. For us to take action we need to feel that we have a voice and using it will be validated and make a difference.

When I was a little girl, Dad said if you didn’t want to have arguments then never talk about religion or politics. But I think we’ve reached a stage where we need to do both. And here’s the thing, when it comes to politics we need to do it in a way that is inclusive, transparent and is two-way.

What are your thoughts?( regardless of political leanings!) What could we do that would engage more people?

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