Wednesday, 6 May 2015

The Pencil Speaks

It is the night before polling day. Somewhere, in a bed, in a house, in a street, in a constituency, a voter unsoundly sleeps; the brain stirred by thinking of tomorrow. Suddenly there is a shout of “Thank you Mr Pencil, I get it now”, a dig in the ribs and “What on earth are you dreaming about”?
I was in the polling booth, ready to vote, but all the names on the ballot paper were different from the ones who'd been campaigning: I didn't recognise any of them. I must have said something , like“now what do I do?” when I heard a tiny voice…

Please don't squeeze me with your fingernails!

Sorry! Who are you?

I'm the voting pencil. It's my job to help everyone put their cross on the paper. I've seen it all many times: know the result hours before any of you humans do.

Er– ok. I read all that stuff about how a strong mixed economy is good. But if it's that simple, everyone would agree on it so there'd be no need to vote at all.

Exactly. That's the problem. People don't even agree on what we're voting for. I mean is it

Who do you think is best for the country as a whole? Or

Who, purely in your own selfish interest, do you think is best for you?

I see; I might as well vote for the Selfish-Me-First party because we ask everybody to vote, so nobody has to work it out for the whole country.

You've got it: you catch on fast for a human. But like a lot of things, the first explanation you get is just the general idea. Actually it's a bit more complicated. You've read all the parties' promises, right? So suppose you're very rich, you can afford to send your children to private school, your holidays are spent in your own villa in …

Ok I get the drift…

You'd vote Conservative: never mind that the economy is not best tuned business-wise to a private/public balance. Never mind the local State school. I want lower tax for me to pay, more of my money for my stuff. Of course you'd want most other people to vote the same way too, otherwise the Conservative candidate doesn't get in. Labour's ideas would skew the economy too much the other way.

So, what you're saying is it's not in my interest to vote for a party whose number one priority is convincing me to skew the economy their way. It's ideologies that generate party policies. So it really is best in your own self-interest as well as the country's interest to vote for a strong well-tuned economy.

I can get back to sleep now. Voting is tomorrow.

Look right, look left, then cross. Vote Liberal Democrat.

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