In Defence of Liberty

Driven by data; ridden with liberty.

Failure to Understand

A politician should aim to understand his opponents. (Edited: Stewart Black)

A politician should aim to understand his opponents. (Edited: Stewart Black)

The role of the political candidate is to convince the electorate of their views, to encourage a vote at a coming election. The University of Bath student newspaper bathimpact shared the results of the High Fliers survey, which suggests 43% of graduating students were voting Conservative. In response, Dominic Tristram, the Green candidate for Bath, wrote:

I honestly don’t understand the mindset of a student that votes Conservative, other than a wild optimism that one day they will be rich.

It should be noted that the High Fliers Student Politics 2015 survey differs from bathimpact’s own survey in three key respects. Firstly, High Fliers interviewed 245 students, compared to bathimpact’s sample of 356 prospective voters. Secondly, High Fliers only looked at finalists, that is, students who are graduating, whilst bathimpact considered the whole student body. Thirdly, the bathimpact poll did not assign undecided voters.

In High Fliers’ poll, 43% are voting Conservative, with 24% wishing to vote Green. In bathimpact’s survey, 26% are voting Green, compared to 23% backing the Conservatives.

The survey had a small sample size in each institution. (Visualisation: Tableau)

The survey had a small sample size in each institution. (Visualisation: Tableau)

Citadels of Debate

Universities are meant to be citadels of thought, inquiry and debate. The consequence of this academic atmosphere is the acceptance that people can make the same political observations, and then arrive honestly and intelligently at distinct conclusions. Instead, the Green candidate ascribed folly, stupidity and greed to students with whom he disagreed. A bad politician is one who does not understand his opponents.

It should be noted that this failure to understand is not limited to any particular party or ideology. I was once earnestly informed by a Labour campaigner that, by voting Conservative, I was effectively betraying my own family. Such vindictiveness and spite is not representative of Labour.

We should attempt to empathise with those who dissent from our own opinion, and seek to understand their plight, their reasons and their dreams.

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This entry was posted on April 23, 2015 by in National Politics and tagged , .
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