THE BLOG

Vote For Policies, Not People

26/05/2017 12:07
Bloomberg via Getty Images

The opulent, lavish, and orthodox demeanour of Theresa is a gulf apart from Jeremy's scruffy schoolboy-like, 'heart-on-sleeve', almost bohemian appearance. But why do we, the electorate, become so enthralled by the person? We exert precious attention on individuals and their personalities, when in fact, our vote should focus on what they stand for - their policies. Here's why:

Firstly we, the electorate, are followers. We happily follow the charismatic leader that exhibits the most eloquent rhetoric, facebook page likes and celebrity endorsements. Some would even argue that such a leader would inspire them to go out and vote, increasing voter turnout. But this appeal to emotion is a fallacy. It gives politicians an excuse to take no clear stance on issues. For example, in the run-up to the EU referendum, Corbyn played an equivocal part, with no strong strategy, losing confidence from his own party; however, under his reign, the Labour party's membership has increased and he is arguably the most popular politician amongst the young voters.

In addition, in some holy judgmental way, politicians are portrayed as either 'god-sends' or 'the devil incarnate'. The advent of social media has had a huge part to play, but it goes without saying that even the smartest of us will cast our votes based on a social media post that depicts a politician in the most outrageous of ways. No one is an absolute saint; no one is an absolute sinner - let's be fair.

Secondly, the two main parties - Labour and Conservatives - are oceans apart in their ideologies and policies. In healthcare, for example, the conservatives have a track record in efficient cuts and privatisation in order to secure long-term economic credibility, whilst labour would increase income tax to fund the NHS and ensure it remains a well-funded public service. With such a polarised spectrum of policies, one must move beyond the personality and vote for what they believe in.

Thirdly, it's natural to yearn for a leader who will lead our great nation to new heights and re-establish our status at the international stage, but the fact remains, that the leader may not even be the one we elected into office. Imagine a ship with 100 sailors, 10 of whom are the elected decision makers including an elected captain. If that captain jumps ship mid-sea, is it right for only a few decision makers to decide who will become the next captain or ought it to be put to a vote? In 2007, Brown replaced Blair and more recently, May replaced Cameron. Despite having elected PMs with strong mandates, circumstances changed, leading to a new captain on the ship based on party voting and not public voting.

One deterrent to voting beyond personality comes from the "but this person supports my ethnic group". With so many ethnic minorities in the UK, it seems like politicians are straddling for the minority vote, and appealing to particular groups. This identity exploitation narrative (appeasement of minority groups), though highly powerful, will habitually effect future voting behaviour in the most detrimental of ways. Play into this, and you'll get played.

With a myriad of policies in the many manifestos, it's easy to get flustered and choose the easy way of voting based on personalities. But the voting game is not the dating game. It's not a private relationship; it's a public good. Your vote belongs to everyone - a civic duty.

So in this election, don't fall for the smiles, emotional appeals, and appeasement. Instead, focus on one particular issue you care about the most and vote for the party that stands for it the best.

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