Monday, 22 March 2010

It’s not only the Politicians that Lie

The other day I was listening to a radio phone in about the current strike by British Airways staff and its impact on the impending general election. Before I get to the point of this post, can I just as why the hell and American trade union (The Teamsters) think they have any right to get involved in a British trade dispute? Showing solidarity and support indeed. It’s none of their bloody business. I digress.

Back to the phone in. At one point, the host wheeled out some pollster who claimed he knew what made certain types of people vote the way they did.

It was mildly interesting, but one thing he did say which struck me was this :-  in general, people will give more altruistic answers when directly asked what influences their vote than is strictly the case when they are alone in the polling booth.

The example he gave was that people might say they will vote for the party they trust most to properly fund the NHS even if it costs them more in taxes, but when it comes time to vote, how much more it will cost them will typically be a much bigger influence than they claim when asked.

In other words, voters lie when talking to pollsters. They give answers that reflect the view they think they should have rather than answers that reflect the views they actually have. We all like to think we care about looking after ‘the poor’ but when it comes down to it it’s a special type of person who cares more about looking after ‘the poor’ than looking after themselves.

But is this really all that surprising? We live in a society that tells us we should care about this or that and we don’t want to be seen to be the one going against this ‘politically correct’ standpoint. And that’s because those that do stand up and say “You know, this is a crock of shit’ generally get shot down my the media and labelled evil, selfish or stupid.

That is the reason it is almost impossible, in the 21st century, to have a reasoned political debate that actually leads to a conclusion about what is best for the country. And the blame lies solely with the media – both print, broadcast and, increasingly, online.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – The media in this country have a lot to answer for. But I doubt they ever will.

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