The Depressing State of the British Electorate

This post was written by JW Arble on April 16, 2010
Posted Under: Elections

Here’s something to depress you. YouTube, hosts of the next Election debate, are offering viewers the chance to submit and ‘vote’ for questions. Just click here – http://www.youtube.com/ukelection

Your question can be placed in one of five categories – Economy, Foreign Policy, Law & Order, Health & Education and Miscellaneous (a rather broad category that presumably covers everything from Arts spending to Electoral Reform to ‘Who would win in a fight, Ninja Turtles or the SS?’) – after which other site visitors can vote on whether they like it.

A few minutes of clicking through the questions offers some idea of which members of our society take the keenest interest in political discussions. There are -

People who can’t spell,

“would any of the oppistion partys increse the defence buget and and think about increesing the size of the royal navy and british army. also restoring the army regaments that were resently merged and disbanded under the labour goverment.”
brian young ex soldier, falkirk.scotland

Inarticulate people who use capital letters,

“If You Become The MP Would You Care More About The enviroment And How Can We Prevent From Being Blowned Up In Some Years Because We People Don’t Care?”

Danusia, London

People who enjoy employing baffling non-sequiturs,

“If education and innovation are such priorities, why have none of you pushed strongly for better internet connections for the masses like those in Korea. Surely its like killing a flock with a stone.”

damiank, london

Paranoid lunatics,

“If Cameron you get into power and give more power to the people wouldn’t for example Muslim communities be able to stop Christians wearing their cross in public. But what are the lib dem and labour policy on this matter.”

dahrb, liverpool

More paranoid lunatics,

“Why am I not allowed to defend my own home from an intruder? If the intruder is set upon doing harm to my family and I stop it by attacking the trespasser, why am I the one who will be sent to prison? How is this justice?”

Alan, Ilford

Self-important marginal issue nuts,

“With so many people, myself included, noticing the phenomenon of Chemtrails – indeed questions are being asked in the European Parliament – will you put the public mind at rest and investigate the nature of these emissions?”

Spanyardie, West Sussex

and

“What/how are you going to control the amount of airbrushing that is done on magazine covers? Airbrushed images have a huge effect on young people (women especially) particularly with regards to eating disorders.How can you change this for the better?”

littlemunchkin, Glasgow

People who really can’t think of anything to ask,

“I was schooled in the 70′s/80′s using the “metric” measurement system. Yet as a nation we still confusingly use a “mishmash” of “imperial” on our roads. In this forthcoming term will you make the leap and go fully “metric” on our roads?”

Kevin Peirce, Ipswich

Death Penalty advocates:

“in these times of advanced technology, with dna and cctv, would you consider bringing back the death penalty for crimes such as murder, if it can be proven beyond any reasonable doubt”

simmsy, Dudley

Bullies:

“Which policy focus do you believe would be MORE effective for criminal justice – increasing criminal penalties, or increasing the likelihood of being caught? Note this is an “either/or” question. Please don’t give an answer using the word “balance”"

Ricky, Bristol

People who contradict their own question, in mid-question:

“I read today in the Newspapers that Mephedrone has finally been banned. My question is, in future would drugs which are shown to have lethal effects such as this, be banned whilst testing is going on to find out exactly what the effects are?”

JohnB, Leeds

Americans:

“Mr. Cameron: Are you a proponent or opponent of the New World Order?”

Steve D., USA

Children who think they pay tax:

I Want To Know Why In Scotland There Is No University Fees? We Have To Pay For Tax And Still Pay! Everyone Should Be Entitled To A Free Education. Students Have To Take Loans And Pay Them Back After. It Is Very Expensive.”

Samad Age:14, Birmingham

Arseholes:

Gordon, why don’t you wear an eye patch? We will respect you, and most of us don’t really like you and make fun of you in the first place. Cameron, why do the conservatives act like children crying out ‘your mother’ jokes? Nick, who are you?”Seriously.,

Taxi drivers:

“Which of you are prepared to give back the public the right to privacy, the right to the presumption of innocence until proved guilty. Local Authorities should not have the right to use anti terrorist laws to investigate citizens for littering etc.”

Bextaximan, East Sussex

‘All you have questions they are belong to us now’ types:

“I am worried that George Osborne economic plan look really bad. It is not about cut at the moment (at least not only cut). It is about how much more wealth you can generate. Can the three parties focus on generate more wealth instead of cut?”

oneeyemasamune,

People who seem to enjoy but not fully understand the use of flying apostrophes:

“The financial state of this country is ‘wrecked’, we are adding to the ‘tremendous’ debts as people take out loans to pay taxes, i know the advantages & disadvantages, but we need a plan that is ‘fullproof’ im asking the government, what is that plan”

anonymouse1234dipat, london

People whose questions are so boring and grammatically wayward you give up halfway through:

“why should widows loose their increase in retirement pension from their late husbands contributions because they chose to remarry before their retirement age, but they would keep it if they remarry after their retirement age…is this right and fair.”

williamwstewart, Little Neston

People whose questions aren’t questions:

“stop domestic spying by the government?”

richhatepoor,

Optimistic UFO spotters

“David Cameron promised that if he is elected he will disclose any UFO information that the government has. David, are you still planning to do this, and to the other candidates, are you willing to match this?”

Ben, Lowestoft

And finally, the simply insane:

“To ask whether there are any plans to introduce Hare Coursing to the 2012 Olympic Games as an Introductory Sport and whether Hare Coursing should be considered as a Crown Jewel and broadcast on Terrestrial Television.”

Mark Stratton, Kent

So far the only question I’ve posed concerns the vital issue of ‘Boxers or Y-Fronts?’, under the nickname of Noam Chomsky, from Stockwell. So far 2 positive responses, no negative ones. I’ll keep you updated on its popularity.

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Reader Comments

I am ashamed to see this article on the third estate. This elitist demos hating shite has no place on a progressive website. There may be an argument to make about the role of the media, the political classes and power brokers in dumbing down debate. But simply making a post whose sole point is “lol the electorate are so dumb” I completely as odds with socialist politics.

#1 
Written By Reuben on April 16th, 2010 @ 8:03 pm

Mr Arble should be worrying about the capacity of a few Murdoch types and big business finders to excess undue influence over the electoral process. Yet he would rather ring his hands over the fact that people with bad grammar and views with hich he disagrees get to cast a vote on the future of the country they live in.

#2 
Written By Reuben on April 16th, 2010 @ 8:18 pm
Mike

Not exactly the response to last night’s debate that I was expecting from this fine blog. What a self-important twat. Perfect spelling, good grammar, and conventional orthography are not necessarily indicators of quality, as the above article and your own blog ably demonstrate, JW Arble.

#3 
Written By Mike on April 16th, 2010 @ 9:11 pm
JWA

OK – I should qualify this post by saying there are some sensible questions available for review on the site. Nevertheless they are in the minority.

If there is a target – it is certainly not concerned with class. Expecting people to be able to frame a coherent question is scarcely an elitist request – but assuming those who can’t are of a lower class most definitely is.

Arthur Scargill put it well when he wrote, ‘My father reads the dictionary every day. He says your life depends on your power to master words.’

And it follows that you can’t expect your questions to be taken seriously if you can’t frame them.

Moreover these individual posts are offensive not simply because they are idiotic but because they are for the most part rhetorical – closed aggressive opinions fat with prejudice, self-righteous and indifferent to any response. And for this they should be held up for ridicule. These are the blowhards and bullies who put most people off engaging with politics.

Nevertheless my intention wasn’t only condemnatory. I also meant to celebrate the diversity of questions on the site. Some are wise, some are very funny. I don’t know where the title of the blog post came from. It wasn’t mine.

And I for one would be very interested to hear about the UFO policy of all our leading parties.

However the one thing we can be sure of is that none of the more interesting questions have the faintest prospect of being asked in the actual debate.

Meanwhile Boxers v Y-Fronts – 2 positive, 10 negative – the prospects of Cleggy battling that brickbat look bleak.

#4 
Written By JWA on April 16th, 2010 @ 11:44 pm

Ok, I admit it. They were all me posting under different names.

#5 
Written By EddM on April 17th, 2010 @ 11:43 am

You quote the ‘taxi driver’ saying “Which of you are prepared to give back the public the right to privacy, the right to the presumption of innocence until proved guilty. Local Authorities should not have the right to use anti terrorist laws to investigate citizens for littering etc.”

Could you point out why you think he’s an idiot for asking this question?

There have been a number of well documented cases of local councils using terror laws to investigate very minor offenses (for example in Cambridge last year the council used these powers to investigate the paperwork of paperboys and monitor homeless people) – it seems fairly reasonable to question this, you might think it’s ok to use these powers in this way but why exactly is the ‘taxi driver’ to be denounced for asking the question?

Perhaps we could set up a system where you get to decide who is and is not allowed to ask questions in a democracy. I mean – people who can’t spell thinking they are allowed to have a say? The very thought of it!

#6 
Written By jim jepps on April 17th, 2010 @ 12:09 pm
Roger

“These are the blowhards and bullies who put most people off engaging with politics.”

Um, as far as I could see, your article was specifically about bullying people who attempted, possibly for the first time, to get engaged with politics.

“Expecting people to be able to frame a coherent question is scarcely an elitist request ”

And if that’s a little beyond them, then what? Should they shut up and let the more educated decide their fate for them? Also, it’s fine to be a marginal issue nut, that’s how marginal issues get addressed. We would never get beyond healthcare and education if we only campaigned on the ‘important’ issues.

#7 
Written By Roger on April 17th, 2010 @ 12:10 pm
Roger

“there are some sensible questions available for review on the site. Nevertheless they are in the minority.”

More to the fucking point, I’ve just been on to that website and the vast majority of questions are entirely ‘coherent’ and relevant. You have cherry-picked the funniest examples, and you are actually lying when you say ‘in the minority’. And I mean properly lying. For shame. To defend yourself, perhaps post the url of any page where you consider the majority to be unsensible, if that’s a word.

#8 
Written By Roger on April 17th, 2010 @ 12:19 pm
David M

This article seems just an excuse for elitist snobbery. Not what I usually expect of The Third Estate. Obviously there are issues to be debated about these TV debates (they are largely a force for good IMHO), but this article doesn’t seem to be constructive in any way whatsoever. At all.

#9 
Written By David M on April 17th, 2010 @ 10:16 pm

Agree with David. Roger has said much of what needs to be said.

#10 
Written By Reuben on April 18th, 2010 @ 3:17 pm

Actually, while this post might not have been framed properly (i.e. with arble’s usual wry sarcasm), I think there’s an interesting point to be made asking ‘who is it that writes on these websites?’
Yes, Reuben, the Murdoch-scare argument is indeed scary, but it’s also been made a hell of a lot by blogs (who is it that always writes about Mainstream media vs blogs? it gets a bit close to boring structuralist machines – oh look, here’s a news story that the media are manipulating, aren’t we great on the internet at not being biased?) But internet communities are actually quite complicated, and the vitriol that ends up on forums might be often a case of form defining content. If anything, I think arble is actually taking the piss out of this blog as much as anyone else – which is a good thing.

#11 
Written By Richard on April 19th, 2010 @ 11:24 am
Steve

I quite agree with this article, the British people are stupid, 13 years of a Labour government proves that, and then there’s the stupid that like Nick Clegg, lol has anyone actually read up on the Liberal Policies?

No of course not, the British people are stupid, you deserve what you get… morons.

#12 
Written By Steve on April 20th, 2010 @ 10:31 am

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