The General Election has snuck up on us like an elephant clothed in luminous pink underwear, and with it, a sad emphasis on the highly negative nature of current UK politics. It has been seven years since Barack Obama's 'Yes We Can' campaign captured the imagination of not just an America in turmoil, but many in the western world. It was a campaign centred around change, but more importantly, change for the better. Being the cynical bunch that we British are, any UK candidate who campaigned under the slogan 'Yes We Can', would probably be laughed off stage. And whilst I agree that it is rather more 'American Dream' than Grimsby by-election, this does not mean that we couldn't learn a thing or two from our exuberant and fist-pumping cousins across the pond.
Along with this highly motivational slogan, the Obama campaign also utilised a poster design that became known as the 'Hope' poster. These powerful posters (which on a side note, bear more than a passing resemblance to propaganda posters used by the USSR), featured either the word 'Hope', 'Progress', or 'Change', and were immensely positive. Here was a party campaigning under the banner of progress and positivity, and why things would be better if they were elected. Compare this to the current debates dominating British airwaves and you will find yourself desperately scraping the bottom of the political barrel to find a shred of optimism.
If you don't want the SNP then vote Labour, if you want Labour less than you want Conservative don't vote Ukip, if you want anyone that isn't Labour or Conservative then you are at best a hopeless Romantic, at worst a dangerous fanatic or blithering racist. This is increasingly the tone coming to dominate the Election coverage; we are told over and over again that our choice is not really free, that rather than risking a potentially dangerous coalition Government with a volatile smaller party, much better to stick with steady Ed or down-to-earth Dave.
In fact, that they are two Hollywood actors on a pantomime stage full of clowns, is one of the few areas where the rivals can agree. Ed would prefer a debate one-to-one with Dave because, as we all know, they are the only people worth bothering about; and no he won't agree to a power-sharing agreement with the SNP. Why? Because they are a bunch of loonies voted in by those barbarians north of the border who don't know what's best for them, and need a firm, English hand from Westminster.
Personally, I'm quite a fan of the Union from a cultural, social and sporting perspective, but that's because I'm not Scottish, and I'm not being told what I can and can't do. Not only does this narrowing of options make a mockery of democracy, it is also a huge disincentive to vote. People will surely question the point of voting if their party of choice is being marginalised before the dice have even been cast.
Meanwhile, the party spin doctors and their media cronies have stepped up the blame game. Politicians seem to spend more time ripping apart each other's policies, whilst driving home seemingly unending character slurs upon their opposite numbers and their parties, than they do explaining what they would do in power. In my mind, humans like happy things. They like to be told how things will be better in the future, in short, they want 'Hope, 'Progress', and if something isn't working, 'Change'. It would be a welcome shift if the political parties focused on their own policies and visions of the future, as opposed to painting post-apocalyptic visions of a country in ruins when Ed drops a nuclear bomb on the City, or Dave decides to incarcerate anyone north of the Watford Gap.
A plea therefore, to the UK political parties: give us something to believe in, give us hope, and give us positive politics. As a young person eligible to vote, and decidedly unsure of his political loyalties, I want a clear understanding of party policies, not how many bleeding kitchens Ed Miliband has in his house.