I was just watching the BBC Election Special and was shocked by how all the political commentators distilled issues down so much that it seemed like they had decided the world was black and white:
- David Dimbleby kept on referring to Labour and the Liberal Democrats as the ‘losing parties’. He fretted that a coalition government would be formed out of the ‘losing parties’. – It is clear that none of the parties has ‘won’ as none have an absolute majority, and none of the parties that have as many seats as the Liberal Democrats and Labour do have ‘lost’. BNP, UKIP, Christian Democrats are all ‘losing parties’ because they don’t have a single seat. If Labour and Lib Dem did form a coalition with other parties, it wouldn’t be a coalition of losers, because they would have managed to come to an agreement to become a coalition with an absolute majority, the ‘goal’ they have to reach for a stable government, therefore they would have ‘won’ through working together.
- John Reid said that 74% of people had voted against proportional representation, his thinking being that since the Liberal Democrats were the only party that made PR one of their main issues and only 26% of the population voted for them, therefore 74% had voted against proportional representation. – There are of course a million other issues at stake while voting for your member of parliament including local issues, and painting the general election as a vote for or against proportional representation is clearly ridiculous.
- Everyone says that Nick Clegg is playing the ‘Kingmaker‘, as he and the rest of the Liberal Democrats decide whether they will form a coalition with Labour or Conservatives, therefore helping to grant them an absolute majority. The truth is that Nick Clegg is only playing the ‘Kingmaker’ because Labour and Conservatives cannot possibly conceive of working together. Everyone is seeing this situation as black and white, either Conservative wins or Labour wins. It is not conceivable at all that they attempt to work together? As far as I know, the Liberal Democrats have been speaking to both of them, however Labour and Conservatives have not been speaking to each other. This means that the power is in the hands of the party with the least votes between the three main parties. Maybe I’m being idealistic to imagine that Labour and Conservatives could try and work something out, that they would actually have to discuss things with each other and try to bring the members of one over to the point of view of the members of the other in order to pass things through the various houses, rather than sneer, jibe and name-call each other all the time. It would probably make for much more informed discussion happening, which can only be a good thing.
I can see why it is easier to distill things down so that they look black and white, and this perhaps works for really complicated issues in less important areas. However for perhaps more important issues such as the future government of the UK, lets try and keep discussion at a level where biases aren’t formed from the distillation, all options can be seen, and outright lies aren’t told.