One of my photos

Collyer’s Politics Society

February 26th, 2009 · Posted by Skuds in Politics · 5 Comments · Politics

After work today I rushed over to Collyer’s, a school in Horsham, to meet with their politics society.  Very interesting.  I might write more about it, but probably not here:   the amount of politics on this site has been getting lower and it is likely to get lower still because I have found a new place for political opinionising.

The topic of discussion was suposed to be about why people, and especially young people, are less interested in politics these days.To be fair, although there were some diversions, the discussion did stay broadly on-topic.  I don’t think there was any real conclusion, but that is no surprise because anybody expecting a simple answer to such a question would be supremely optimistic.

The problem, of course, is that there is not a single reason anyway.  Every individual who is not interested in politics has their own reason so you can’t even just ask because all you will get is that person’s reason and not some mythical single unified cause of apathy.

Not that Collyer’s was the place to go and ask anyway.  By its very nature the politics society was full of people who are interested.

What was refreshing after meetings at work, in the Labour party or in the council, was the character trait of youngsters that they are quite happy to ask difficult questions honestly.  Faced with a candidate who, let’s be honest here, has no realistic chance of winning in the next election many adults would tactfully avoid mentioning that – plus a few who would go out of their way to just rub it in.  This evening I was asked why I am bothering to stand when I’m not likely to win.

A good question.  The normal honest answer for candidates is that they are ‘paying their dues’ and getting experience on their political CV for a future safe seat somewhere else.  That doesn’t apply in my case.  I would not be interested in standing in a safe seat hundreds of miles away.

For me it was mainly because there are enough people – at least 10,000 I guess – who agree with the Labour party and who want a candidate to vote for.  If they do not have a Labour candidate they are being denied their chance to take part in the democratic process.  Personally I would be royally pissed off if I did not have a Labour candidate to vote for.

The follow-up to that was to ask what is the point of standing with no realistic hope of success.  The simple answer to that is that it is the whole point of democracy.  If you decide that party A is guaranteed to win so no other parties stand then you don’t have democracy any more – just 400-500 constituencies with a single candidate and elections in just those which are marginal.

Of course, many would argue that I have effectively described the current situation under first-past-the-post, and unofficially I have to agree with them.

Anyway, it was worth the stressful drive from work (I hate driving in a hurry) to get a different perspective on things.  I hope the society thrives and carries on long enough to ask me back sometime.

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5 Comments so far ↓

  • Ed Steeds

    Hey, I was one of those kids. Wanted to say thanks for coming, was interesting to hear what you had to say. Also kudos for the Smiths lyric on front page. Cheers.

    • Skuds

      It was fun. I shall try to encourage Stuart to invite my friend Gordon from the Crawley Lib Dems some time, in the absence of nearby LD MPs.

      He has worked for MPs in the past, works for the LD head office now and has the added advantage of being a bona fide political anorak… (a one-hour session will not be nearly long enough:) )

      Luck of the draw with the Smiths BTW. Could so easily have been Shakira or Wham! coming up on the randomiser.

  • Danivon

    Ahh, that takes me back. I was in 6th form at Collyer’s in 1992 and we held a mock election the day before the General. We were the only ones who went around to talk to as many of the form groups as possible, and people were interested (if not exactly supportive) in what we had to say. The candidate did alright in the end – beating the BNP (yep, they had a candidate who stood for them because the Tory slot had gone).

    • Skuds

      Unfortunately the only election we had while I was at school were the 1974 ones when I was a bit young to follow them properly.

      I do remember that some candidates came to speak to us though. At the time I thought nothing of it, but I am now retrospectively very impressed by their effort. It was enough of a logistical nightmare trying to get to Horsham from Manor Royal in time but my school was a small rural boarding school.

      The oldest pupils were two years from voting age, by which time they would have gone back home elsewhere in the county. There was absolutely nothing in it for the candidates or party members who came to us… I now feel guilty that I was not more greatful at the time.

  • Gordon Seekings

    I remember at my school in Battersea in the 1966 General Election. Four candidates, Labour (who won), Tory, Liberal and Communist. Even in those days I supported the Liberal candidate but we came 4th behind the Communist who almost got more votes than the Tory.

    It may seem a bit strange the Communist doing so well these days but my school covered the old Battersea slum area that was at that time being cleared and the parliamentary seats were Battersea South and Battersea North and Battersea North had in the recent past returned a Communist MP.