Zara’s Space on the Web – Musings

May 10, 2010

Let’s stop pretending the world is black and white

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.

April 24, 2010

Who should I vote for?

Filed under: Politics — zarazilla @ 10:44 pm
Tags: , , , ,

As I’m sure you already know, the UK general election has been called for Thursday 6th May.  I do believe it is very important for people to go out and vote.  But even more importantly is that people figure out who it is they should vote for according to their views.  I had a friend at university who voted BNP in a local election because it was the only party that said ‘British’ on it instead of  ‘Scottish’…. we lived in Edinburgh.  When she found out what the BNP stood for she was horrified!  Far better had she stayed away from the polls than vote for a party that was against what she wanted.

You want more? Here’s some with humour.

Not many of us have the time or inclination to read through manifestos and try and decide whether parties have generally stuck to what they’ve said before.  Luckily for us, we live in an age of modern conveniences and where people dedicated to the cause of helping people choose which party to vote for, no matter their views, have come up with some tools!  I’m going to test run a few of those here and tell you how time consuming it is, how likely it is to be accurate, and, scarily, what parties they suggest to me!

Okay. First off, Vote Match!  Vote Match is an ‘Unlock Democracy‘ project in association with The Telegraph, Goldsmiths University of London, and The Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust.

It is very easy to use and definitely for those who don’t want to spend too much time reading things. After telling it which country you live in, you go straight into 30 questions about how you feel about things. You can either agree, disagree, or remain ‘Open Minded’. The only thing I didn’t like about this was there were a few questions where you could’ve done with a bit more information or a button which said ‘It depends’. Next it asks you to select your priorities over 12 issues, what you feel are the most important and least important issues.  It the asks you to select the parties you’d like to be compared with and includes that for accurate results, not to include any part you would never consider voting for. I like to think I’m a pretty open minded person, so I select all parties apart from the BNP. Because lets face it, if the BNP were ever in power I wouldn’t have the power to vote. Next, they offer to email you to remind you to vote. I reckon I probably won’t need reminding, so I skip the option.

Apart from various frustrations with the limited answers you can give to the questions, VoteMatch is very straightforward and easy to use.  My result? UKIP!  UKIP???? UKIP!!!!  I am worried…. but as I look through the answers to the questions I can see why. The quesions where I got frustrated the most with the limited answers have aligned themselves with UKIP… in exactly the ways I was thinking they shouldn’t.  My next match is with the Liberal Democrats, then the Green Party, and then I am tied with the Labour Party and the Conservative Party. Interesting.

Next up: Vote for Policies.

The idea behind Vote for Policies is that it keeps you a number of points from each parties manifesto and asks you to choose from the sets of policies, rather than the personalities. It’s a good idea, but actually doesn’t really work in the context its presented in as the points are quoted ad verbatim and it is obvious who some of the parties are due to the language used, or some points which have been brought up in the press.

Nevertheless, Vote for Policies gives you a much more indepth look and is for people who want to spend more time on choosing who they want to vote for. They start off with asking you what issues, out of a selection of 9, you are interested in. I choose all 9.

The sets of policies make for long reading, and you do get torn between a few of them. It would be nice if they had an optional ranking system.  It takes quite a while to get through them, but after the fourth section I start skipping some once I start reading vile things.

My result? Liberal Democrats. I come out Liberal Democrats on Health/NHS, Democracy, Environment, Europe and Welfare. Green on Crime and Immigration (funny, as I didn’t vote Green for MEPs because of their immigration policies, I guess they must’ve toned them down), Labour on Economy, and funnily enough, UKIP on Education.

There may be a few more quizzes out there, but for now I’m heading for bed!

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