Sunday, 24 May 2009

Navel-gazing intro: Candi-dating in Hackney

My brother-in-law is the only person who has asked me to explain why I have never voted. I argued that the issues were too complex; that no one understands the issues (even people who have spent their professional lives trying to understand them); that everyone who does vote is using the evidence to justify an emotional decision; that the evidence could be used to justify anything - except a decision based on evidence.

My brother-in-law hasn’t stopped voting and I haven’t started so the argument was probably never relevant - for some reason he votes and for some reason I don’t. I don’t have faith in my argument that it is all too complicated - it could be used to justify not getting out of bed in the morning - but it has become my excuse for not getting involved. At least not as a voter.

I am afraid to step into this arena now. I fear that my opinions are half-formed, adolescent, embarrassing. I am afraid that if I try to express a view on the issues, rather than my lack of confidence in the system, my ignorance will be exposed and ridiculed. Politicians and the people who surround them appear to spend a lot of time exposing and ridiculing each other and I assume that they would happily do the same to me.

Now, having set it up as an act of selfless bravery, I reveal that on Saturday, I went to the first political event I have ever been to in Hackney – apart from a couple of council meetings.

The reason I could stomach it – or even contemplated going at all – was because of this blog. I assumed it would allow me to hide behind the cloak of journalism. There was another reason too: on Thursday I found out that I might be made redundant and I didn’t feel like sitting around thinking about it.

So going to Hackney Unite’s 'candi-dating' event wasn’t really a tentative step in my journey toward democracy but I’m aiming to write up the experience over the next couple of days.

Here’s the Socialist Party of Great Britain's candidate’s take on the day and a quick mention by the Lib Dem candidate.


  1. Interesting post!
    Best wishes,

  2. The private sector isn’t democratic, the religious institutions, every denomination, every religion isn’t either. The bureaucracy and their quango and social sector clients aren’t and the aristocracy and their head of state aren’t. Universities aren’t and Hospitals aren’t, Judges aren’t, Police aren’t, Bloggers aren’t.

    And to that number you add yourself.
    All the political parties are, and so is our government so the question as to whether you vote or not is answered by who’s side you are on. Is it us democrats governing all the above including the head of state with a dwindling power base of voters and members of political parties, or the meritocrats, technocrats, and aristocrats that oppose democracy at every turn in their media products?

    An emotional decision could not be easier, well maybe for some it is difficult but then again I don’t watch television, listen to the radio, or read the newspapers.

  3. Jed, thanks for that (and Rosana) - the first comments on this blog! It's a bit late so I'll just say that I'm not talking about the mechanics. What I don't get is why it should be easy for me to accept the hereditary gift of a vote when I never did anything to earn it? What if it was a farm? Why should I be any better at voting than I would be at farming? And why should I defend my right to vote when I don't know why I've got it in the first place?

    I don't believe I can be given responsibility, I have to take it. The people who demand that I vote appear not to be interested in making me feel responsible (hopefully a more positive and grounded feeling than guilt) but only in making me use my vote.

  4. your brother-in-law sounds like a wise man