I’ve caught the election bug.
When I heard there was to be a general election next month, I immediately buried my head in Wikipedia, and various other web pages, teaching myself the basics of politics. I decided I wanted to grab hold of my first opportunity to vote – and make sure I used it wisely.
After finally managing to understand (well, kind of) the whole left-right-centre thing, as well as the main ideologies of the three leading parties.
I’ve never before been interested in politics (I’ve always shared the popular opinion: ‘it’s boring, and they’re all liars and cheats anyway, so what’s the point?’). However, I’ve suddenly grown a slight addiction to watching, reading and listening to politics news coverage, checking policies against each other and watching and reading manifestos as they come out. I wasn’t brought up with a particular political stance – my parents pretty much have the same opinion that I did, so it’s completely up to me to decide, from scratch, where I put the ‘X’ on May 6.
I think the most important thing we need is change, to get us out of this economical mess and move forward as a country. So for real change – parliamentary change for starters – many people believe that Labour should be out of power. Then there’s their main competitor, the Tories. Conservatives are all about traditionalism, and seems to favour the upper classes by ways of hierarchy. The recent proposal the Conservative Party has put forward (£150 tax break for married and civil partnered couples) to me, seems a massive step backward for our society. This favours traditional 2.4 families over single-parent families as well as modern couples who feel they don’t need or want to wed to lead a happy life. So can we really expect to move forward with Tories in power? For me, that’s them out. That leaves the Liberal Democrats, who don’t really have a chance anyway.
At least that’s what everyone thought.
Nick Clegg was adamant from the beginning that this election was not going to be a two-man race, and it seems that since the very first TV election debate between the three leaders, Lib Dems may actually have a chance. Opinion polls show closing gaps between the parties, some even placing Clegg on top. While watching the Leaders’ Debate, I was following reactions through the masses of tweets flooding with the hashtag #leadersdebate. A recurring opinion is that Clegg came across as the most genuine and calm out of the three (it seems Cameron and Brown would rather directly insult each other than discuss policies).
10 Downing Tweets provides a snapshot of Twitter’s party preferences, currently showing Clegg as leading with 39% of the vote. Following the success of getting Rage Against the Machine’s Killing in the Name to Christmas No. 1, Facebook users are attempting a similar campaign attempting to win Lib Dems power this year.
Social networking and microblogging seem to be playing a big part in this year’s election. An increasing amount of political organisations, politicians and local MPs (and even Nick Clegg himself) having Twitter and Facebook accounts, ‘keeping up with the times’, communicating with many first-time voters, and fighting for the most fans and followers.
So can we expect a huge change in parliament? Or even a hung parliament? Who knows… but I do believe social networking may well be very influential in the outcome.
Some suggestions of accounts to follow
in the run-up to the elections: