An Open Letter To Britain’s Politicians

Let me start off by saying that I genuinely do not know who I will vote for in the upcoming election; this means that each of the major parties has the capacity to win or lose my vote. In case you are interested, here are some of the things that I will be looking for over the next month.

Firstly, you need to realise that I am not stupid and I will not thank you for treating me as such. I am able to handle complex information and I don’t need everything reduced to simple sound bites. I know that some problems don’t have easy answers and I also realise that there may be more than one solution to a particular problem.  So, please don’t insult my intelligence by trying to pretend there is only one possible answer to every situation and that you are right and the other parties are wrong. I know that there are shades of grey, not just black and white.

While we are on this subject, please remember that I am able to read and understand things for myself. I don’t need you to tell me what the other parties’ policies are. Tell me your vision for the country and leave me to work out what this means for me. If all you have to offer me is a series of reasons why I shouldn’t vote for the other guys, then I’m really not interested in voting for you.

Talking of  ‘the other guys’, I am far more likely to vote for politicians who show themselves generous to their opponents. If the other side has a good idea, admit it. Don’t set out to create division and discord where there is none. Listening to grown-ups squabble is not my idea of entertainment and I will simply turn off the Today programme or the TV rather than listening to you bicker.

Be honest and truthful. Please don’t tell me about your values and your honesty; just be honest and demonstrate your values. I am not one of those people who believe that all politicians are greedy and out for what they can get. I actually believe that most of you are motivated by public service and the belief that your particular view of politics and economics is best for the country. However, I also believe that too many of you will be economical with the truth in order to be elected or re-elected. If I find that I can’t trust you to tell the truth to me, I am unlikely to trust you to govern the country.

Give me a vision of the future and not stories about the past. I don’t need you to tell me what life was like in Britain under the Tories in the eighties or Labour in the seventies. I remember both, and neither decade resembles this one very much. Give me a simple, realistic, believable picture of why the country will be better off with you at the helm and then trust me to make the comparisons.

Of course, I realise that you will, in all likelihood, ignore everything I have said. The election campaigns will have been planned to the last detail. Rather than looking at common ground and consensus, you will seek to show clear differences between the parties. You will exaggerate the little differences and seek to belittle your opponents at every turn. Spin (which is just a polite way of saying ‘lie’) will take the place of truth and complex issues will be reduced to banal superficialities.

At the end of the campaign, someone will win and they campaign teams will pop their champagne corks with a feeling of a job well done. But remember, there is another important factor in play here; the future of our democratic system itself.  Survey after survey shows that the British people are becoming disillusioned with politics and effectively disenfranchised. Turn out in this election is likely to be one of the lowest ever. If your party wins the election, but, in the process, alienates more voters  you will have done us a huge disservice.

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1 reply on “An Open Letter To Britain’s Politicians”

OK, here goes! Some voters will have adopted a reasoned view of what democracy should expect to achieve for the good of society; others will be some way through a process to that end; some won’t know where to start; some will say ‘whatever’.

The drawing of constituency boundaries, the excessive influence of marginal seats, the balance between service and other employment, the proportion of public sector employment in different areas – these are all things that can create imbalances in the system. But in the end an electorate gets the government it deserves.

Whatever politicians say they will do in order to attract votes, they are constrained by the art of the possible when it comes to action. Unfortunately many of the issues they grapple with have become so complex that they rely on ‘expert’ advice in arriving at decisions. Sometimes this reliance becomes so total that the will of parliament is no longer a realisable concept. The line of least resistance takes over, and the actions of unelected quangos are substituted for the rule of law. The abrogation of responsibility in this and other ways has in part caused the loss of confidence in our elected representatives.

So let’s get back to fundamentals. Do we want a society where the welfare system reverses any benefit from personal savings, where human dignity is reduced to a lowest common denominator, where enterprise is stifled by excessive regulation, where carrot has been replaced by stick? Or do we want a country that encourages thrift, that allows every person to flourish to their maximum potential, where honesty and generosity will be seen as worth pursuing, and where law making and enforcement will work towards the common good.

Where do I stand? Gordon Brown single-handedly got us into this mess over the last thirteen years (yes, all of them). Who is he to set himself out as the saviour of the world?

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