Parliament has been dissolved, babies across the country are readying themselves for their roles as articles of party propaganda, Europe (the band responsible for this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_IKcMl_a9A) can expect to receive unexpected royalties from endless television montages, and people en masse will actually participate in British democracy...yes actual active participation in our democracy, at least in pretence, through discussion, political thought, and of course finally voting. I must admit i personally felt more than a tinge of excitement today; elections are, potentially at least, the pinnacle of politics and a time for anoraks like me to rejoice in the saturating coverage of it all. I, of course, cannot understand clearly whether this excitement was widespread, but i would feel confident to assert that more people than normal have probably thought seriously about British politics today than would normally be the case, and that many people, from many different backgrounds, are seriously interested in the outcome of the forthcoming election.
However, one can question whether this interest and excitement is generally a good reflection of our democracy, and the principles it stands for. Democracy is defined as government by the people and, for the people to govern, which is in essence what the process of election of representatives is, the people need to have real understanding and discretion of their politics. In addition the political representatives available for the people to choose need to have clear and defined policies, have clear checks upon their progress and enactment of promises when in power, and be a distinguishable choice and representative of a certain political ideology. The interaction between these two elements in many ways demarcates how active a democracy really is, the foundation of democratic governance in ancient Greece, which was participatory, depended upon an impressive and wide-ranging enjoyment, involvement, and understanding of politics on behalf of its people. In a modern political system, it can be assumed, not necessarily but practically, that less faith is given to the political insight of the majority of its participants. This system relies more on the defined and responsible outline of political representatives, who can more simply each outline various political methods and create a more simplistic choice for a population less inclined to understand the minutiae of political ideology. I must emphasise there is no snobbery involved here, in many ways the latter is a better system which enables people with real expertise and understanding of politics to have a greater input into the political system, it is also the only practically possible system of democracy in the modern world.
As such we must look to our political representatives to provide an obvious and informed path, for different ideologies to be reflected by different parties, and for politics to be a broad platform of discussion and debate, possible to follow for those interested enough but also easily defined to those who are more likely to become involved only in these final thirty days. And this, in my opinion, is a worrying conclusion for anyone who has assessed British parliamentary democracy, with its vague party definitions, its unclear or non-existent policies, and its increasingly obvious 'style-over-substance' approach. I would take myself as someone who is interested in politics, who to the best of my ability understands some of the importance distinctions involved, if by no means all, yet i must also admit that my voting in this election will, as it stands, be more based upon history and tradition than current policies or distinctions. Historically, the Conservatives have protected the rich, have been intentionally eponymous in their policies, and have offered, in my opinion, much of the negativity and regression of British political history. In contrast, the Labour party have offered progression, equal opportunity, and have been defined as a party of the lower classes rather than one of the rich. These definitions are of course obtuse and broadly exaggerated, but they do seem to have a foundation in fact and are to some degree helpful. But these two parties are today in an unthinkably mundane battle for the centre ground, have a lack of clear policies, and, in many ways, seem to be two parties with similar plans, battling over differences of personality, and, as i am trying to show, chosen more due to traditional and symbolism than practical nuances. Popular involvement in politics is at face value a brilliant thing, but it must be understood in clarity that without adequate knowledge, or alternatively adequately mature party politics, it can be a potentially dangerous development.