If you live in the UK, you’ll know we have a general election (plus other elections, depending on where you live) early in May of this year.
Yesterday, Mark on Twitter suggested we carried out the uk.isidewith.com poll. I replied by saying I’d done something more primitive but perhaps equally revealing when I went for a job at a northern newspaper recently – a newspaper which contained a quiz in the edition I was given to help potential voters decide which parties they most agreed with.
On that rather more primitive scale, I came out borderline Labour/Green Party (I assume left-wing Labour, though matters of left- and right-wing have become more complicated to comprehend of late).
But I also suggested in the Twitter exchange we had that what parties and politicians said before an election and what they actually did in any aftermath were very often quite different affairs.
Which brings me to the following conclusion: when we vote for a party and politician, we aren’t necessarily voting because we agree with them. (Therein the problem, perhaps, with polling tools like isidewith.)
Rather, it’s a subtle and complex calculation – perhaps an intuitive one to a greater degree than is helpful – which assesses not what the person says but how much we believe will be delivered of what we presume they really want to do, once they’re free of the voters’ rubber-stamp.
When we vote we don’t – any more (I don’t think) – vote because we like what a person says.
These days, when we vote we do so because we suspect a future line, not agree with it.
And that’s sad.