This is the first general election I’ve experienced with the “aid” of the internet. By internet I mean twitter and the circle of similar-minded folk that I follow over there. It is, undoubtedly, a microcosm that bears little resemblance to reality. That’s not to say that the folk on twitter aren’t real – they are, just that I select that the residents of my online microcosm on certain characteristics (witty, scientists or related, care about similar things to me). The big bad world doesn’t reflect those characteristics as strongly.
Why does that matter?
Well, in the case of the election it means that in the build up I was surrounded by lots of commentary on issues that I care deeply about, thoughtful opinion, and a great deal of hope. And it was hope I could share because of the online community of like-minded people.
We’re all a little disappointed today. We’re disappointed that our electoral system is not a fair representation of votes cast. We’re disappointed that some of the important politicians in our microcosm are or may soon be out of a job. We’re disappointed that our collective voice was not more widely heard, and that our collective hopes have been largely dashed.
But we’ll get over it soon enough.
If you’ll recall I emailed the candidates in my local constituency a few weeks before the election date. I received two replies, one from the UKIP candidate and one from the Conservative candidate. The UKIP candidate was delightfully honest and actually made an effort to answer my questions as asked. The Conservative candidate’s office requested my address and sent, by post, 5 sides in answer to my questions that generally did not accept the premise of many of the questions. There were no responses from the Green, Labour or Liberal Democrat parties. I don’t view that as an opportunity for the ‘you wont get a response’ cynics to say ‘I told you so’. If we don’t ask these questions, if we don’t raise these issues, then how will they become categorised as important electoral issues? I’ve never experienced an election where there was so much science specific coverage in newspapers and online. It has to start somewhere.
This time I emailed questions, next time I’ll go to the hustings. I looked this year, but because my constituency was a Conservative safe seat, it felt like the election was a bit of a non-event. There were fliers through the door and a local councillor candidate dropping off leaflets one Sunday morning was the only person I interacted with. Unfortunately that person was Conservative and therefor unable to talk to me as they weren’t allowed to canvass on a Sunday. I couldn’t find details of hustings in my area.
I am, like so many of us, watching the news closely to find out what happens next. It is certainly interesting.
ETA: you may also be interested in the thoughts of Ian Hopkinson over at Small Beans, at 5.20am this morning the first election news I read was his tweet of Evan Harris losing his seat. It was a bad start to the day.