Politics is always personal – time to adjust accordingly?

As with most articles on this site, the following is pure opinion. I am open to alternative points of view – feel free to comment.

I wouldn’t really feel comfortable linking to an article I never finished reading, and in truth I’m not entirely comfortable writing about it. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting a recent article on the website of a national newspaper which criticised a political party by stating “we warned you, we told you so”, before arguing that said party was generally disreputable and to be avoided, without really specifying why they disagreed. I only got five or so paragraphs into the article before giving up. There may well have been a carefully constructed argument within the article, but I’m afraid I don’t believe it was expressed within the first half.

It doesn’t really matter which party was being referred to, but more that a large number of people voted for this party. Like every political party at the last general election, they didn’t gain enough votes to win, but they still gained a sizeable proportion of the vote.

Here’s a brief thought experiment: imagine that whichever party you voted for came up with a policy which was criticised, and then not only were the party attacked, but the people who voted for them were criticised for doing so.

If we want politics to be popular, which anyone who believes in a functioning democracy would encourage, then we need to celebrate a personal connection with our vote – the notion that the cross on the ballot paper is an expression of a person’s opinions, ideas and beliefs.

Politics should be a battle of ideas – a genuine open debate where concepts can be explored and politicians held to account for their policies. But when a party itself is attacked, and worse, the people who voted for it are attacked, there will be little reaction other than bitter resentment and a reluctance to engage. It only serves to reinforce a “them and us” approach, which immediately alienates part of the electorate, and often cements the views criticised.