As good as a nice cup of tea, and a sit down.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

"Never talk about religion, or politics."

THIS IS A piece of advice I received from my parents that has always stuck in my mind. Yeah I know, it's hardly an obscure proverb! And in fact, in my adult years this sentence has become as subtly ironic as an Alanis Morrisette song. I grew up in, let's say, an opinionated household, and when my mum, dad and I get together over a few drinks, all we bloody talk about is religion or politics. Heatedly! General principles we agree on, but we often quibble over the day-to-day running of the country.(Which naturally, none of us envisage having any problems doing - like I said - opinionated.) Call it the generation gap if you like.

I digress. The point of this entry today (6th), on the eve of one of the most historic elections in decades, is that I'm finding it increasingly hard to bite my tongue. Not from blurting out my choice of vote to others, you understand, but from curbing my impulse to tell them to keep their BIG NEBS out of my business.

I don't blame people for general curiosity. We are as a nation of people, incredibly nosy. If I've got 90p and 15 minutes to wait for a bus, you can bet I'm going to buy NOW! and find out about Jordan's new breast operation. I know that many people identify this as what is wrong with the country, or whatever, but I'm not a completely brainless idiot: I just like a bit of a rubberneck from time to time.
But, even as a curtain-twitcher, and someone who isn't remotely spiritual, I feel that some things are sacred. And who I choose to vote for, well, you nosy buggers, that's one of them.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to disengage healthy political debate. In the right forum it can breathe life into a dessicated system. The telly debates this year allowed the PM candidates to finally come under proper scrutiny. Everyone could discuss what they thought about policies, agendas and personalities because it was right there in front of them in their own homes. It's opened politics right up for people to draw their own conclusions. In no way am I saying that this is a bad thing, so please don't misunderstand me.

But once I've got there (my decision), then that's it as far as I'm concerned. I've made my mind up. I'd like to think I'm a fairly politically motivated person: I've read the manifestos, I don't always believe what I read in the papers, so my choice is informed enough. I wouldn't dream of trying to influence someone else's choice, I'm just happy as a woman that I get my own in the first place. So why, then, is there a constant stream of advice being doled out to me? I turn on Facebook this morning and there it is:


Blah blah blah... thanks for your insightful comments. I don't know what I would do without you there holding my hand!

It seems I have finally found a faction that annoys me more than the, "It dunt fooking matter NEway, LOL" Crew. These are folk, who for 364 days a year, are hardly masterful political analysers. More to the point, it's just bloody rude. It's presuming people aren't clever enough to make up their own minds, and it disrespects the basic principle of a free democracy. If these people had their way, we'd all just queue up on one big stage, shout out who we were voting for on a megaphone, and wait for the rotten fruit and booing to come from the various opposing tribes.

The minute you start demanding that people vote one way or another, you stop trusting in the decency of the majority, which I believe (at least until tomorrow) exists in the UK. Which throws up to my mind another tired cliche, but one I think is very fitting this evening:

"Every country has the government it deserves." - Joseph De Maistre

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