For those of you who follow my twitter feed (@darkpurplemoon) I was involved at my University yesterday when Ed Balls (Minister for Education) came to speak to trainee teachers. I think it was supposed to encourage us to vote for him, which was amusing. He was very slick and quite likeable, but his stories and the things he said didn’t really match, although it was hard not to sycophantically laugh along with him (damn that politeness!) . I asked him a couple of questions, which at the time he seemed to answer, although a few minutes later I realised he hadn’t actually answered my question at all. Very vexing – I guess I am just not used to talking to politicians! We were all filmed by the BBC, but according to a friend who saw the evening news we were only in the background as he was filmed making his education announcement.
At the end of last week I emailed the Lib Dem and Conservative candidate to ask for their response to the digital economy bill (#debill) and I emailed our current MP (Labour) to ask him why he voted for it (he was one of the ones which bothered to turn up). How many of them do you think actually responded to me? Yep, just one – the Lib Dem candidate. She and I are still emailing and chatting about various local issues. Really? Is this how the parties are harnessing technology to engage with the voters – when they cannot even be bothered to respond to an email. Shocking.
Recently I have been *not* listening to my iPod everywhere I go – unusual behaviour for me, a habit I learnt when I lived in London – the only way to survive was to create my own little bubble around myself. As a result of not blocking everything out I have been earwigging* on other peoples’ conversations. I have been delighted by the amount of people I have heard discussing politics. From the group of middle-aged women at the doctors’ reception, who were saying they were trying to get their children to think about the vote they were going to make and the fact they were trying to instill in their children a sense of duty for having to vote. Through to the retired ladies in the swimming pool changing room who were haranguing one of the ladies who said she didn’t want to vote as she thought they were all the same. Still naked they were arguing policies and saying “women fought to get a vote we must use it, even if we spoil the paper”.
Each and every time I wanted to go up and engage in conversation with them. At some point I will do, I normally have no compunction about joining in with random conversations!
I find this all extremely heartening. These are everyday people, talking about the upcoming election (GE2010) at home and at work. However, I haven’t heard any young people talking about it, my students at college are too young to vote (they are all 16 and 17) but I think I will find a way to talk to them about the election and to see how they feel about it all.
So, it is all picking up pace here, but it has none of the excitement about the American election and the candidates are all homogenous to a degree – white, middle (or upper) class white men. Most of their party is the same. I would love a party make up to represent the country as a whole – more women, more disabled people, more people of colour, maybe even some people who fall into all three categories at once.
Oh and if you are interested in how women are being portrayed throughout the election Cath over at Too Much To Say For Myself is doing an Election Sexism Watch, with phrases like ‘glamorous politician’ ‘Cameron’s Cuties’ ‘War of the Wives’ it is enough to make you sick. Cath said on edition 3:
Bloody hell, I hadn’t envisaged there’d be enough of this sexist shite* to fill up a fresh blog post every sodding day!
I think that says it all really, but honestly it makes me so angry – we are in 2010, not 1910.
*A side note: is ‘earwigging’ a British term, or just my family, or does everyone understand that? In case you don’t I basically mean overhearing and listening to others’ conversations!