I have strong opinions. Oh boy do I have strong opinions… On the running of the country, the importance of the NHS, immigration, food hygiene, bin collections. Everything really.
...I just don’t know to which political party my opinions are aligned.
1980’s LA - there’s a guy called ‘Freeway’ Rick Ross. Not the rapper, the big-time drug king-pin. Think Scarface x 100. (Bear with me… this is going somewhere). He used to sign multi-million dollar agreements for drug trading (no, I didn’t know drug dealers had contracts either).
Mr Ross had a problem - he couldn’t read! So as not to show any weakness, he took the pages, stared at them, flicked back and forth and counted to 1000 in his head. Then, he got his two most trusted friends to read the document and share their opinions openly around the table. He’d make a final call based on their feedback.*
^ THIS IS EXACTLY HOW I APPROACH POLITICS.
I don’t know the ins and outs. I don’t know the wider scale effects of certain political regimes (do we even call them regimes? I’m way out of my depth already). Luckily, I know people who do. So up to now, I’ve gone with that.
“Torries are shit” - Yeah they are!
“Jeremy Corban looks like a badass-renegade-breath-of-fresh-air for the labour party” - DAMN RIGHT HE DOES!
“I wish I could vote Green and not feel like I’ve wasted my vote” - FUCK YEAH!
I’m 29 and have a huge blind-spot when it comes to politics. Yeah, the onus is on me to sort this out. But I only partially blame myself as - by way of absolving my responsibility - there are two main contributing factors to my naivety.
1) NOBODY EVER TAUGHT ME
Why aren’t we taught politics in school? That’s the place where we learn things we need for the rest of our lives, right? Somewhere, someone prioritised Pythagoras over politics. I know which I need more. We learnt R.E for Christ's sake (!!) Mythical stories, over cold hard facts that will help us make informed decisions about our future. Hey, 90’s R.E teachers - where was God when UKIP was getting votes?
Until now the UK has relied on young people making a concerted effort to learn about politics off their own backs. Sure, some of them will, but a huge percentage won’t. I, for one, was too busy riding BMX, playing Runescape, getting drunk on Lambrini and chasing girls who weren't interested. From my perspective - these were the ‘important’ things.
2) I’m disheartened with the whole affair
If I did engage in politics I feel I'd be met with nothing but disappointment (Defeatist, I know). How could I change anything in a system where 'safe seats' are rife in a two-horse race that’s been happening since the beginning of time? There are calls for a reform of the UK political system; but to achieve this the reform would need to get passed through parliament, which means the parties who DON’T want it to change have to agree to changing it.
So, for the time being I’ll listen to my trusted friends. I’ll sign the right petitions, vote for the party that will have the highest chance of success over the one they tell me is bad for the UK, and I’ll make my decisions based on things that affect me on a local level. Do I want to leave the EU? Definitely not - I have friends from Europe and I don’t want them to have to leave. That’s enough for me to go on. You can bamboozle me with numbers, money, stats - but (I don’t think you heard me) My friends might have to leave. No-brainer.
And I guess I’ll keep engaging (or not engaging) in politics this way until I feel my actions will make a difference. Counting to 1000 and listening to everyone's opinions on the most effective course of action. And maybe I’ll pick up The Guardian occasionally ... Oh, wait. Who are they in bed with again? Is that the one I should read?
...Let me ask a friend.
*For those of you who were thinking “ Damnit, Jonny - enough of the whining! Tell me more about Rick Ross.” Well, in summary - he ended up in prison, learnt to read, taught himself law, and got himself out on a legal loophole. I know, right? Why would I read a Conservative party manifesto when there’s gold-dust like that out there on the internet.