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Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Inverting The Insitutional Narrative Part 2: Telling It Bottom-Up

In Part 1, I suggested that to properly understand our motives at the ballot box the election narrative needs to be told from the bottom-up, not top-down.

How is that going?

False outrage in the headlines of certain newspapers is merely a top-down attempt by those institutions to influence how people vote (I won't dignify that rubbish with any links). And while pieces from Dispatches and Charlie Brooker genuinely expose the party leaders as institutional machines, they do nothing to reveal what individual people actually care about.

Ironically, Gordon Brown and the TV media came close to revealing what individuals think when he was caught expressing his annoyance off camera when a Rochdale resident expressed her own views instead of letting him list his government's achievements.

So what do people actually care about? And how does that resonate with candidates?

The team at TheyWorkForYou have bothered to find that out. By doing a quick survey yourself you'll find out the most common issues in your constituency and where your candidates stand - at least those candidates who've bothered to respond (1156, when I did it). Tellingly, the Guardian's report on this initiative focused on the Tories' refusal to complete the survey rather than people's issues, which were dismissively and condescendingly referred to as "everything from CCTV cameras to gay parenting."

Sadly, VoterPower have also done the analysis to explain just how little most people's votes actually count in the UK electoral system:
"The average UK voter only has the power of 0.253 votes. This is because most of us live in safe seats, where the outcome is pretty much certain regardless of how we vote... [for example] 57.60% of those who voted in Hammersmith in 2005 did not vote for the winning candidate. These votes count for nothing in the First Past the Post system."
There's clearly much work to be done before we'll see Politics 2.0!

Photo: 'expectant crowd' via BBC.
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