Tag Archives: representative democracy

People are complicated – not necessarily tribal

I shall say this only once. I have some sympathy with David Cameron not recognising what was coming down the track. It’s not just about the referendum itself. I still believe that he was wrong to go for a referendum after the 2010 General Election in a representative democracy, but there is another powerful factor in play which has become clearer in the years since the 2016 vote.

Six years is a long time in terms of the role of social media in the political arena. The polarisation of positions/opinions/allegiances has deepened in the UK partly because of an oversimplified binary vote and partly because of the corrosion and distortion which comes with certain uses of social media in the political or quasi-political realm.

When I became an elected representative fairly late in life (after a lifetime as an activist), I had a fairly settled view of what politicians were for. I saw them as people’s representatives who had some ability at explaining complicated stuff in relatively simple terms so that people were  better equipped to make some choices at elections. With this honourable understanding I can justify the shortest of Focus headlines and a press release which is well under half a page of A4.

I still buy into the basic model.  I am a kind of professional simplifier but the last few years have alerted us to the dangers of not giving sufficient recognition to the complicated reasons as to why people hold opinions which we profoundly disagree with or which fly in the face of expert opinion. Sonia Sodha, a distinguished leader writer for the Observer, encapsulated her view in a non-leader article with the headline “Question Time showed that you can’t counter anti-vax myths with cold reason alone”.

Posted in Op-eds | 8 Comments

Recent Comments

  • Chris Moore
    Hello Mary, you say this, "he party made a huge tactical error – when they could have had massive influence on a vote by vote basis – and betrayed millio...
  • Gwyn Williams
    As a student some 44 years ago, I delivered leaflets in a byelection in a new(ish)housing estate on the outskirts of Reading. It was uneventful until a furious ...
  • Steve Trevethan
    Might we please have a pamphlet or three on the harsh harm done to so many in our policy-deprived, not-rich fellow citizens and the some 25% of our children w...
  • David Blake
    Leaflets work, but they have to contain more than just 'Labour can't win here'. We need to get people voting for us because of our policies and values, not jus...
  • Alex Macfie
    @Mary Fulton: Confidence & Supply would have had the same risks for us as a full-blown coalition. It would have looked like we were just propping up the Tor...