The General Election, Democracy, Views, and Social Media

An old adage says that politics and religion are not topics for polite conversation – it is so true. Both topics are entrenched in passionate, divergent views.

The full results of the General Election have not yet been announced, but at the time of writing (10am ish on May 8), it seems predictions of a closely run race were wrong. There has been a lot of disappointment about the likely result on Twitter and Facebook this morning.

My own political views are left-leaning. I believe in a fair society. My personal view is that the Coalition Government did not provide that, and a Conservative government will not provide that.

I voted according to my beliefs, as is my democratic right. I haven’t expanded on them here because it would be a very long post indeed – and that’s not the point of my post.

This morning, I exclaimed my disappointment at the likely result, and on Facebook wondered whether people care about the NHS, and anyone who doesn’t have the benefit of money or privilege to support them. There are people who agree with me, and people who don’t.

The comment was a general one expressing disbelief, and concern for the next five years. It is my democratic right to do so. While I do not need to explain myself, it was as much about media bias and propaganda, a screwed up electoral system that no longer meets the needs of today’s party politics, and all the people who could not be bothered to vote as it was about people who voted a certain way.

While it was not intended as a personal comment with any implication that people who voted a certain way are bad people, voting is a personal decision and people may take comments personally. I stand by my beliefs, but the point of my ramblings this morning is to be respectful about other people’s political opinions.

We need passion, and we need people to stick their heads above parapets to make change happen. We need those people on all sides, from all parties, from all viewpoints, from all political persuasions. We need people who are not afraid to speak up, and speak out.

Today is the 70th anniversary of VE Day. Seventy years ago today, Victory in Europe was celebrated. Occupied Europe was freed from the clutches of Nazi Germany, and the UK was able to continue being a free democracy thanks to the sacrifice of countless men and women.

I have seen comments on Twitter from people who voted more towards the right say they feel reluctant or intimidated to talk about their political beliefs because of the backlash they may receive. In any context that is sad, but the fact that there are people feeling unable to express their democratic right of freedom of speech is particularly poignant today. I don’t agree with their political views, but I do agree with their right to be able to express them (with the usual caveats about not being personal, or abusive – and provided they used their democratic right to vote).

It doesn’t matter how you voted. We probably won’t agree with each other, just as we probably don’t agree on many things. There will be many passionate emotions expressed today on social media, the traditional media, in workplaces, shops – and everywhere. We should celebrate our democratic right to freedom of expression without fear of oppression.

What matters most is that you voted. And if you didn’t – shame on you.

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8 thoughts on “The General Election, Democracy, Views, and Social Media

  1. sophieblovett says:

    Fantastic post – you’ve summed up a lot of what’s been on my mind the last couple of days! I too was incredibly frustrated and disappointed with the result of the election – I seem to be becoming increasingly left wing as I become more and more aware of the injustices that surround us and am terrified by the prospect of 5 more years of Tory government!

    Hard as I find it to understand why people chose to vote Tory though, I find it harder to listen to people who try to justify why they didn’t vote – and I know a few. The heart of it seems to be a lack of understanding of the issues at stake. I fear that is also partly what led to the Conservative majority – there was so much scaremongering from the right-wing press that I find it hard to believe it didn’t influence peoples’ votes. Though of course when you combine the voting system with those who didn’t vote only 24% actually voted for the Tories – on one level I find that statistic a bit of a relief, but on another it’s quite hard to stomach given the make-up of the government it’s led to!

    Anyway… Sorry for the rant. I suspect – and hope – that this election has brought politics much more to the forefront of peoples’ thinking. Hopefully we can all manage to be respectful of each others’ views as we thrash out implications of the result! xx

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    • Leigh Kendall says:

      Thank you Sophie, and thank you for commenting, and no need to apologise for passion especially about something so very important. I agree, there was so much media scaremongering. That’s not new, of course – remember the infamous Sun headline from 1979 “If Labour gets in will the last person to leave Britain please turn off the light” or words to that effect. It’s sad that more people don’t vote. I don’t think there’s an easy answer – but we all need to remember to be respectful to other views. I have a feeling we are going to need lots more kindness towards one another in the coming years xx

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  2. poutinginheels says:

    Wise words Leigh. It’s so important, no matter how we vote or what we think, to be respectful of other people’s opinions and views. What a day. Xxx

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  3. MaryEldon says:

    Problem is, “I’m afraid to express my opinions” is too often right-wing code for “no-one should criticise me or I’m picking up my toys and going home whilst claiming those nasty socialists are oppressing me”. That has nothing to do with protecting free speech and everything to do with trying to escape real debate. Personal invective doesn’t help, true, but if you find a view intolerable (I’m not going to mousily stand by and hear my gay son called “unnatural” by certain right wingers, for example) it’s not wrong to say so, and say so good and loud.

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    • Leigh Kendall says:

      Oh absolutely Mary. We should always speak out when we find views intolerable or offensive. There’s truth in what you say in the code for “no one should criticise me” – it’s more about respecting other people’s views in open, honest and respectful debate. Thanks for commenting x

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  4. Tim says:

    Well said, Leigh. I’m slightly more in the centre of the political spectrum which basically seems to mean I disagree with most people about most things. But that’s okay – as you say, we should all feel entitled to have our own views and feel free from persecution or backlash (although, as a son of immigrant parents, I do have a hard time with some of the more overt elements of UKIP’s agenda).

    It constantly amazes me how poor the turnout at elections is – 66% as I type this, which means that 1 in 3 people have not voted. This is the one thing I have little tolerances for. Voting matters – it’s not just about voting in MPs, as voting demographics influence policy focus for the next 5 years. If a particular group doesn’t turn up, why should they expect any policies that benefit them? As far as I’m concerned, if you don’t buy a ticket, you don’t get to complain about the show. Not voting at all is the biggest sin of all.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Leigh Kendall says:

      Yes, yes, yes Tim. Voting matters so very much. People have the right to choose to not vote, of course – but it’s so important I don’t understand why people choose not to.

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