Friday, 16 April 2010

Voting: an interesting conundrum

If I have certain principles, and those principles lead me to adopt a particular ideological position, and if that ideological position is better embodied by one political party rather than another one, does that mean I am committed to voting for that party whatever the situation because the other parties are not founded on the kind of principles that lead to the ideological position that is embodied by one particular party rather than another one?

So, if I have such a commitment does it mean that whatever the position of the other parties on this or that individual issue, I will not be voting for them because they are not founded on the kind of principles that lead to... embodied... etc?

And, given that, is any argument from any of those other parties likely to sway me in my commitment? Would it be possible for another party to come up with something so attractive, on a single issue, or two, or three, that it would lead me to switch my vote?

If truly not, then am I wasting time reading manifestos, accounts of manifestos, newspaper op-eds, weighing personalities, potential holders of offices and all the rest - and should I just short-circuit the whole process by giving all that a miss?

In other words, would it, in a philosophical sense, be possible for me to vote Nick Clegg or David Cameron?

Note it is not that I need specific reasons for not voting Nick Clegg or David Cameron, or indeed Gordon Brown, or, (indeed) any other figure who might head the party I might be considering voting for at a local level since I would not, in practice, be voting for Nick Clegg, David Cameron or Gordon Brown but for my local representative, candidate X, even while being committed to the party to which I have been committed, fully aware of the fact that my vote will not change the fact that the party opposite will carry the seat.

I know it sounds very complicated - but it is simply the question of the swing voter. On what grounds am I voting if not principle? Embodiment of principle? Specific, smaller aspects of principle in practice? Whether I like the idea of higher / lower national insurance? The state of Gordon Brown's teeth? The sound of his voice?

So why I am looking at David Cameron, thinking he looks a bit beaky and prissy, or Gordon Brown thinking he is slowly metamorphosing into a human rhinoceros, or Nick Clegg, thinking, Holy Smoke, Boy Wonder, great hand gestures, perfect address to camera, time to leap into the Batmobile?

Most people I know already know who they will vote for. End of story. No argument will shift them. So is that it? Could I go Green? Could I vote for Boy Wonder? Should I join the Bullingdon Club as a lowly chauffeur? Would it be logical?

A case for Inspector Geras.

Och. Let's do some poetry next.


Michael Farry said...

Looks like Norwich South is a very interesting constituency this election. Your vote is vital - possibly or maybe not. Here in Ireland we have PR so I can vote for everyone, 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.
Run in to Premier League also interesting Utd last gasp winner earlier today, Chelsea two down at half time. Still hope!!

George S said...

Not my constituency, Miichael, alas. This one is solid Tory like all rural Norfolk. The LibDems might stand a chance. Could try them. Might get PR too as a by-product.

The race for the Prem is still on. I rather like it when people tell us we're finished. 'Not quite yet' has been the answer for the last seventeen years.

Dafydd John said...

I feel that this surge of support for Clegg is actually quite sad - not that I'm completely unbiased in these matters.

What has he done? He took part in one TV debate, with the one line: "look at them two, I'm not like them two!" And suddenly in this age of X-Factor, Big Brother and Britain's Got Talent, he's the great saviour, the best thing since sliced bread.

The great British public are largely anti-European, anti-immigration and tough on law and order - hardly the Lib-Dem manifesto - but because he looked good next to the other two, who cares about his policies?

It might not last, but how gullible and how superficial people have become.

George S said...

I would not disagree with you for a second, Dafydd, but we are stuck between two equal and opposite propositions. One is the Mencken proposition, to the effect that 'No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the public', the other is the dignity of man, at least the assumption that your fellow humans should be treated as though they possessed that dignity.

In real life, of course, we are not obliged to choose between the two and can juggle them: now one, now the other.

If I wanted to be generous to Cleggophiles I would say that there was bound to be some fatigue after two long administrations (first Tory, then Labour) and any promise of something new strikes them as appealing.

I also have some hope that it won't be entirely a matter of looks and table manners that decides it. There might be some seeking after that elusive quality: gravitas.

It need not work entirely to the bad.

Then I put on my Mencken hat and...