So, a quick follow-up to Wednesday’s big political blah.
One thing that occurs to me in retrospect, which probably deserves to be better highlighted, is that this is all just a suggested starting point. I was intending to address people like me, who have never really found a way to engage with politics before, but can find things in it worth their attention if there was just some way to connect.
There are, of course, many other ways to get involved in politics, including some which can’t or shouldn’t be done in ten minutes from in front of your computer. I found this kind of approach illuminating and liberating, but some people may also find something to be said for actually going outside and doing stuff.
I know I was rather dismissive of political reps and canvassers, but they’ve no doubt changed many minds and made a great deal of incremental difference in their time, and played a bigger part than most in the public conversation about how our country should be run. I don’t want you to think I’m being contemptuous of that way of getting involved. It just wouldn’t suit me, and wouldn’t suit a lot of people, and I’m trying to talk about more palatable (to some) alternatives.
Also, a couple of thoughts on the Skeptical Voter questions.
When I sent my email to Sam Webber and the Bromley Lib Dems last week, I didn’t just cut and paste the suggested skeptical questions. A few of them I quoted verbatim, but some others I gave a little context to. I was in a chatty mood, so ahead of the question about libel reform, I very briefly outlined why this was important to me, and mentioned people like Simon Singh and Ben Goldacre. I didn’t give it much thought at the time, but I think providing a little more context to the questions might be a useful thing.
Someone mentioned on Twitter earlier that their Conservative candidate had asked if there was anything specific in mind behind question 7: “Should policy-makers trust scientific evidence even when it appears counter-intuitive?” And personally, I’ve no idea.
The answer to the question should be “Yes”, incidentally (with some slight nuance sacrificed for the sake of pith). But it might help if, say, I could point to some specific example where this wasn’t what happened, and ask the candidate’s thoughts on it. It seems likely, for instance, that whoever came up with question 4 (about independent government advisers being able to give advice that conflicts with government policy without being fired) had the Nutt Sack Affair in mind, and being able to refer to that might help make more sense of the question.
My suggestion, then, might be to provide an expanded version of the ten Skeptical Voter questions, with some background to each one, either to give the candidates a better idea of what exactly they should be responding to, or to give the voters asking questions a better idea of how to engage with them. I might submit my suggestions to the wiki later.
As you can probably tell, I’m still rather having fun with this.
Oh, wait, two more exciting things turned up since I wrote all that.
Some enterprising chaps and chapettes have done yet more of the hard work for you, and made nearly every step in my big how-to guide even easier. YourNextMP.com will provide a list of all the candidates in your constituency, contact details and personal background information, and links to their profiles and websites online. It’s still a work in progress, but might tell you lots that you don’t know – and if you’ve found something out about these people which they don’t already have, you can add it to the list. There’s less data on their policy positions than TheyWorkForYou has, but it’s still handy.
And finally, while the whole “Labservative” thing I mentioned is no doubt achieving some worthy snark, it’s worth remembering that differences in policy between Labour and the Conservatives really aren’t wholly mythical. My gay vote pretty much speaks for itself.