Ballot Box

Today I visited Church. No, I haven’t suddenly been touched by God, but rather, it was time to vote in the local elections. Here in Cardiff we have an extra special treat of not 1 vote, but FOUR! Yes that’s right folks, FOUR!

So off I toddled to the polling booth, I won’t tell you which parties I voted for, because I believe it’s meant to be secret, and I don’t want this blog turning into a political whip! There weren’t many people when I got there, maybe there had been a sudden rush earlier, or maybe people round here aren’t bothering to vote. This wouldn’t surprise me as this area is probably 90% populated by students. Apathy amongst the young is a shame, although not surprising. I think politicians need to find a new way to connect with the young that doesn’t involve the words ‘Hug a Hoodie’ or ‘Webcameron’. I don’t know what the answer is, which is probably why it’s a good thing I’m not running for office (this time – my world domination plans don’t kick off until 2022.)

Some people suggest that the voting age should be lowered to 16. It seems to me that this would create an extra million people who don’t bother to vote, so what’s the point. Maybe an alternative would be that any 16-year-old who has the desire to vote writes in to ask for it. Then we’d also know how many are politicised.

Today’s voting got me thinking about why I vote. If you were a cynic, you might say that I voted today just so I could write this blog. Well, you might be partly correct, but at the same time, I voted last year (actually – that’s a good point – I can’t even remember what that was for, although it must have been different because I had two voting slips, not one…) so I must just like doing it. I remember the first time I was entitled to vote, that was for a General Election, so it was even MORE exciting – if you can believe it! It felt like a rite of passage, as if, now I’m 18 I can take part in this ritual – woo hoo! I vote now because I like to believe in a democracy, but I think I might be a bit deluded – a bit like feeling you’re interacting, but really it’s just to keep us all quiet. Again, with the cynicism.

A review of electioneering material

A selection of “junk mail” has passed through our letter box in the past few weeks. It’s not the usual endless montains of menus from Pizza Time, but a last ditch attempt to get people to vote for certain parties.

We received “handwritten” letters in the post, which banged on and on about all the good work that one party had been doing in the area, but neglected to make it obvious which party they were writing from. I don’t know if they were relying on us having a knowledge of the name of the candidates, but it didn’t work. We eventually figured out that it was from the Liberal Democrats as indicated in the tiny small print, that alone made me not want to vote for them.

The Lib Dems seemed to have been making the most effort to convince us however as they also sent round a free “news”paper, which basically slagged off their rivals. Again, it wasn’t immediately obvious that it was from them, but was presumably intended as a “subtle” attack on Labour and the Conservatives to make us think – we must vote for someone else! The paper was very sensationalist and, in my view, made a spectacle of the whole issue. But I suppose, that’s the nature of modern politics.

There are a number of problems with these electioneering tactics. It’s a big waste of paper. Luckily here in Cardiff we are fortunate to be provided by the council with recycling opportunities for such wastage. Secondly however, it’s sensationalist style really does dumb down the political debate.

But I’m not going to on a big rant about dumbing down because that’s been done far too often. Instead I would like to suggest that at least it gets us talking about it, and it may, in at least some cases get people looking at something related to the elections, if only for a brief second.

Well after this local election double-blog bonanza I am all blogged out.

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