WHEN it comes to politics and politicians, I find it hard to argue with Billy Connolly’s assessment when he says: “Don’t vote, it just encourages them.”
The wall-to-wall coverage of the General Election has not failed to make an impression on our two boys. Though, I’m not convinced it’s necessarily a good one.
I don’t know what it’s all about,” our Isaac moaned. “What does it mean?”
It said on the news this week that Labour leader Ed Miliband had clashed with David Cameron over child welfare.
I saw my 14-year-old son’s eyebrows raise. They were quickly lowered when the TV screen was filled with a procession of pallid men in suits carrying papers rushing in and out of offices.
His idea of a ‘clash’ was very different from the newsreader’s.
He had perhaps hoped to see a sabre-wielding Miliband, his face contorted with rage, charging across a battlefield strewn with bodies towards an armour-clad Cameron, jousting lance poised, sitting astride a black stallion. I know I did.
At the very least, our Bradley thought the televised ‘clash’ would feature a punch-up of sorts. Maybe grainy CCTV footage of the political leaders brawling in the bins behind Number 10, with a squealing Harriet Harman desperately trying to separate them.
No. As ever, the clash involved a lot of talking. The kids don’t do talking. Our Isaac, 11, in particular, is not engaged with General Election.
“I don’t know what it’s all about,” our Isaac moaned. “What does it mean?”
For that reason I took it upon myself to enlighten him.
“The Labour Party,” I said, “want to help the poorer people get more money, probably by taking it from the rich.
“The Tories, on the other hand, reckon the best way to get the poorer people more money is to make the rich richer so they can create more jobs for them.
“In a General Election,” I concluded, “you vote for one or the other.”
I tried to keep it as simple as possible. I didn’t want to complicate matters by mentioning Ukip or the SNP.
He looked at me and repeated: “I don’t know what it’s all about. What does it mean?”
Our Bradley felt obliged to join the debate.
“I’d vote for the Greens if I thought their economic policies would work,” he said. “But to pay a minimum wage of £10 an hour would put loads of small firms out of business.”
I nodded in agreement, making a mental note to start paying more attention to the political arguments as, like Isaac, I didn’t know what he was on about.
To be honest I was impressed. Previously, our political discussions had revolved around Ed Miliband’s wobbly lips and Cameron’s unfeasibly shiny head.
Now he was following the action with interest (the word action being used in the loosest possible sense, obviously). I asked him why the sudden interest?
“Well, David Cameron is going to lower the voting age to 16,” he said. “So I’ll be voting in two years time.”
He was a little crestfallen to discover that elections only occur every five years and so would be entitled to vote at the next election anyway.
His interest gave me some hope for our country’s future. A hope that quickly extinguished by my realisation that if they do lower the voting age, our Isaac will have a say next time round. I may have to work hard to keep that quiet … don’t want to encourage him.
Perhaps I’m being too judgmental. Which reminds me of another great Billy Connolly quote with which to finish this politically charged column.
He once said: “Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes. After that, who cares? He’s a mile away and you’ve got his shoes!”
Vote Billy, I say.