Do we really care about politics? That might sound an odd statement, particularly coming from someone who is attempting a degree in the subject, but are the posters and Facebook statuses just an indication that politics has become trendy?
Wander into The Charles at any time of the day, and the chances are that many of the people at the tables will be engrossed in conversation about where their vote is headed, who won the debate or just how “bloody awful” Thatcher was.
Student political activism is a cliché, but it’s probably fair to say that it is a cliché which we all encourage. It seems to me that for many of us we speak on the issue because we think we should. You don’t want to be the person who, when asked of their view on Trident, goes white and starts speaking about chewing gum.
Our views are generally just parroted from our parents, or the paper we read that morning. I’m not excluding myself from that bracket. I’ve been brought up in a Liberal household and, shock horror, I extol the virtues of Clegg and his crew. I’m not suggesting that none of us have genuine political beliefs. After all, we all know that person who really does care. You can spot them a mile off; they are the one that goes, “It’s just like 1955 all over again”, and then everyone nods knowingly, almost as if they know what the expert is going on about.
Our views are generally just parroted from our parents, or the paper we read that morning
My particular expert friend is a true Labour man through and through. Posters block out the light in his room, and give him half a chance and he’ll sing you ‘The Red Flag’ as if it has always been his favourite song.
For every expert though, there are at least 100 of the rest of us. We have an opinion, we have our profile photo changed to our party of choice, and it seems for all the world we are political activists.
It’s all a façade though, isn’t it? Sure, we may use our vote, but I imagine the first website most of us turn to when faced with our computer screens is not BBC News. It’s probably Facebook.
And here is the crux of the argument. We go to these social networking sites to ensure that everyone knows how we’re voting, we put the posters on our wall just to make sure and we spit out our drink at the mention of an opposing party to convince our friends that the very idea of a Tory/Labour/Lib Dem government would be abhorrent to us.
Would it not be better if we were all a bit more honest with each other? In the pub the other day, a friend of mine was asked who he was voting for. “I don’t know really, not sure I will. I don’t get it if I’m honest,” he replied. Shouldn’t we join my friend and be truthful with ourselves? We get political because we think we should be, and we’ll forget it all until the next election.