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I’m left wing, but David Cameron is not my enemy

May 11, 2015

I felt compelled to write this on my Facebook wall, but I’m sure the problem is not unique to my lovely, passionate, knee-jerk friends with good intentions and tears in their eyes.


 

All right, you lot. I’m pleased that so many of you are passionate about the election, but I’m afraid some of you are taking the result a bit too personally. For most of you, this is your first election, and if you didn’t vote Conservative you’re disappointed because you didn’t get the chance to see the changes you wanted. You’re worried, because you don’t know how the world will look in the future and you predict it will be worse, perhaps greatly.

I can tell you, as a person who voted against the Tories in the 2010 election and still got a (mainly) Tory government, that it isn’t the end of the world. No one inside the government is calling for an anarchic revolution, so you may be surprised at how little things do change, for better or for worse, in the near future. Policies come in, get voted away, dropped or instigated in far milder forms.

Each one should be taken on a case-by-case basis and analysed for what effect they will have. Worrying about “the Tories” as a concept obscures those specific issues and makes it all about My Team and Your Team and how We Can Never Be Friends. But of course we can, and in our everyday lives, we are. We agree on several issues, and disagree within our “teams” on several more. I think we would be a happier democracy if we could see more collaboration between the major parties, rather than being perpetually exposed to their pointless sniping and quibbling that is, in large part, staged.

The problem with protesting against an entire government before they even get started is that it makes protesting at all something knee-jerk and meaningless, to the extent that eventually no one listens – it has already begun, with people waving major protests away as radicalism for radicalism’s sake. It’s partly true. Too many people are being swept up in paranoia, rhetoric and propaganda, and these same people wonder why so few vote, and why the votes cast seem so against the grain of logic. It’s because there’s so much BS in the air, no one can see through the steaming manure fog to look at the issues properly.

Yes, we have financial troubles right now. If we’re honest with ourselves, how much do we really know about it? Can you say for a fact that if the other side had been in government last time or the time before, things would be drastically better or worse? I honestly don’t know – after all, seasoned professors of economics still can’t agree on it. I know what I hope and believe broadly, and use it to guide my vote. That doesn’t make me absolutely right on every detail.

I object to the notion that our politicians, whichever “side” they happen to be on, are out to make life harder for us, The Ordinary. When someone becomes an MP, they do so because they want to make changes to perceived injustices or flaws in the system. It doesn’t make sense to suggest that those who choose to work in public service, on lower pay and under far greater scrutiny than any job in the private sector, are all deviously pulling our puppet strings to force us to pay blood sacrifice the super rich.

We need to stop thinking of other people’s ideas as being malign, and instead think of them as misguided, where we disagree. Otherwise, you are effectively declaring the entire system corrupt, and will drive yourself nuts trying to find ulterior motives that may not be there.

I assume that David Cameron means well and will do his best, because if I was PM, that’s what I would be doing. I don’t see the value of assuming of one person worse than you expect of yourself, without good reason; I’ve been listening to the PM carefully for the last two years and I think it’s wrong to say he doesn’t care about the poor. He and I simply disagree on the best way to handle the problem.

I have to consider the possibility that, being the PM and not a lowly journalism student, he is better informed than me about most areas of public affairs. I’m not saying that we should trust blindly; I’m saying that, equally, we should not mistrust blindly. And if we are going to trust blindly, it might as well be the government and not the papers, which are hardly free of their own agenda. Yet, everyone seems to get their infallible information from the “news”… *is stoned to death for being a journalist heathen*

What’s the point of patronising each other by suggesting that 50% of the population don’t know what they’re talking about? Apart from being arrogant, it’s not an argument that’s likely to be resolved any time soon. It makes better sense to assume that the reason why the Other Side get so many votes is because they have legitimate points that appeal more to people in different situations to our own – situations we may never experience or understand. It’s simplistic to insist this is a rich-poor issue, or a xenophobia issue, or in any way based solely on bias, prejudice and misinformation.

In fact, that view is prejudiced itself, as it seeks to generalise and sideline every person with any vaguely different views, whatever their personal circumstances and motivations. Since we’ll never know everyone personally, we can never judge everyone wholly based on one small part of themselves we learn out of context – i.e., the way they vote. It makes me wonder why anyone believes in democracy at all, if the conclusion we draw from a straight vote is that half the country is just absolutely wrong about everything.

I’m tired of the lack of nuance these discussions have. Please let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that we are sticking up for the needy or oppressed by encouraging mistrust and disaffection, badly aimed anger and poor political awareness. The result is that these same people do not vote on principle and thus don’t have their say. They argue: “My vote doesn’t count for anything under this system, so why bother?” and then won’t change the voting system because it’s not clear what that means, when everything is presented as sound and fury, signifying nothing. This is portrayed, by certain passionate celebrities, as if it is an improvement on trying to make the best of the machinery that exists.

David Cameron is not my enemy. I can’t afford for him to be; I’ve got him for five years, whether I like it or not, and during that time I want him and his party to listen to me, and take my experiences into account, as a friend, neighbour or colleague might. People lose friends around election time, but in periods of unrest and difficulty, we need as many friends we can get, in as many different types as we can find.

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