A very strange thing has happened to me. I was house hunting, and I came across a real gem of a property. But something wasn't right. The moment I crossed the threshold, I felt a change happening in the depths of my very soul. Two minutes in the sitting room and I was beginning to think about ways to avoid my tax, I had a surge of sympathy for Jeremy Clarkson and a sudden urge to go fox hunting... and since when did I say 'sitting room'? I made a last minute attempt to escape, but the damage was done. I was now a person with two kitchens, and I would never be the same again.
Of course, I'm joking - I'm a twenty eight year old care worker so I obviously still live with my mum. Ordinarily I'd now bemoan the fact that I may never move out of my teenage bedroom, but lately I've been thinking that it might be a blessing in disguise. For as long as I'm sleeping under a duvet that's older than I am, I can still believe in the NHS and investment in schools. Unless I want to find myself Torified in the night, I'll just have to hope I never have any sort of success. Which I've been quite successful at so far...wait....
I'll waste no time asking that we listen to what Miliband is saying instead of who we think he is. For a start, we live in a world where the difference between attempted assault and a dust up is whether or not the Prime Minister likes you, so what's the point. But even if I could wave a wand and make us all person-blind for the day, it wouldn't matter. It's not simply a case of leaving our impressions of people at the door - because it isn't only the messenger that gets shot down on semantics.
Not many of us ever decided that punching a producer is okay on condition X, or that having a second kitchen is a problem because of Y. We just sort of know it is. It being Jeremy Clarkson that swung for a man just feels different to it being Katie Hopkins that lashed out, or it being a female producer that Clarkson went for. Be honest, if it had been an 18 year old, female show runner that forgot to order the food you would feel entirely differently about the same act as undertaken by the same bloke. Asking you to explain that fact is like asking you to explain why #TheDress was White and Gold - the fact that you have no objective answer for me doesn't make you any less sure, or any less baffled that I don't see the same thing.
It's annoying when that sort of thinking applies to people. The fact that something as complex as a human being can be boiled down to their accent or their football team is a shame. But the deeper problem is that it happens to issues, too. Consider 'Kids should spend more time outside' Vs 'I'm fed up with these youths hanging around outside my house' It doesn't matter who you are or how many kitchens you have - try pointing the contradiction out to the many people that comfortably hold both views. We don't mean those sorts of kids, or that sort of time outside, and we know what we mean, and you know what we mean, and what are you on about its blatantly Blue and Black. The producer that Clarkson hit was a war veteran? The Milibands also have an outside toilet? Oh right then, that changes everything - in spite of the fact that it literally changes nothing.
We operate with a brand mentality. We select our leaders and enforce our laws based on a feeling we absorb about them. Just as we'll be loyal to a shampoo without knowing whether it's actually any good for our hair, because we think we're L'Oreal types of people. Miliband has a brand. Socialism has a brand. The energy price freeze has a band. Even if we remove the person, we still don't really listen to the issues.
It lets our politicians get away with marketing rather than strategizing. It means that all we ever do is reframe the issues, rename the problems, change the lighting. Rather than acknowledge a good idea or develop a genuine alternative, all our politicians have to do is pull a face and ask 'you're not one of those people that believes in that, are you?'
And before you rush to tell me that you're too clever to fall for that, consider why it is that the Tories are banging on about Milibands two kitchens. Who is thinking 'well, now that I know Miliband has reached that level of privilege, I'm voting for Cameron.' But Tory HQ don't seem to have worried about anyone applying logic to this. No one is wondering what they'll say when we ask how many kitchens/bedrooms/holiday homes Cameron has.
And you haven't, have you?