The British General Election & The Media
It is a source of continual disappointment to me that the British media continue to portray the General Election as a competition between 2 people – the leaders of the major political parties of the united Kingdom. What about the other 648 seats that are going to be contested at the same time? There is more to British politics than the 2 people who are continually shown on the TV and newspapers.
For those who don’t know, there are 650 constituencies between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, each of which is represented by a locally elected Member of Parliament or MP. This MP is elected by a majority vote or ‘first past the post’ system. There is no proportional representation. These 650 MPs sit in the House of Commons and are the first place that new laws are debated and created.
The House of Lords – the ‘upper’ house consists of unelected people, appointed by leaders of the political parties and individuals nominated to the Queen. The House of Lords does not change on a regular basis, usually on new appointments or the death of a sitting Lord.
Unlike the American presidential elections, the general public do not have a direct say in who the leader of any given political party will be although you’d be hard pushed to believe that if you read the British national or local media. They continually only ever refer to the two leaders, David Cameron & Ed Milliband with a few passing references to other senior members of their respective parties and no reference at all to any MP or potential MP outside of these few.
The British public need to alert the media that they want to know more about everyone concerned, not just the idiots who think they’re in charge or who want to think they could be in charge.
The trouble is, very few of the British public really care. Voter apathy is very much a part of the British psyche with a turnout of over 50% being considered high. I have a feeling that a forced turnout system, like in Australia, might give very different results in this country, although none of the political parties would put it forward as a policy until they were sure they would do well out of it.
So my plea to the national media is to look at the whole country and the whole of the electoral situation and treat the election for what it is – a vote for a local share of a 650 seat government, not an A versus B, 2 person fight.