COMMENT: A week of manifestos, battle buses and trial by (proxy) interviews
by KULVEER RANGER
BRITAIN’S political parties have finalized their candidates for the upcoming election. It has not been easy. A process that can take years has been compressed into weeks, stressing the party machines as they have attempted to keep some semblance of order and dare I say it, meritocracy in their selection processes.
Having been a general election candidate I know what an honour and privilege it is to be knocking on doors and asking people to lend you their vote and the responsibility you feel when people say they actually will.
I also appreciate the sacrifice candidates make; the impact on their families, their careers and yes, even financially in most cases. I want to wish good luck to all candidates who put themselves forward for public service but especially those from diverse backgrounds. It is not an easy thing to do.
I want to congratulate the Conservatives who have selected women in ever more numbers, and also Labour on their selection of two turban wearing candidates in winnable seats.
With no Sikhs having been part of the last Commons intake, this signifies a huge step forward. Although Britain does not have the volatility between cultures and communities that some countries do, representation from diverse backgrounds in our political system and civil service is not as advanced as in some countries, such as the US and Canada.
After last year’s referendum I recall the sense of shock and bewilderment I felt at being shouted at from a car as I walked in central London. The driver screamed: “Paki go home.”
Brexit Britain faces many economic challenges but after this election, we will need to take a long hard look at how we can continue to build the bonds and enable representation across all facets of society, including politics, which will keep our country’s communities united and proud to be British.
Leaked manifestos, real manifestos, the press run over (literally in one case), trial by TV sofa interviews and a huge cyber attack – the only thing missing in the past week is for the Russians to be blamed.
Another week passes with promises of taxing more like Robin Hood, increasing money for the NHS, enhancement of workers’ rights, better mental healthcare, support for something called the “gig economy” and nationalisation of key industries. The battle buses have returned too.
Team May and the Corbynistas are getting into their respective strides as they take their battle and policies to the streets of the nation.
Prime minister Theresa May embraced social media and took part in her first Facebook Live.
However, beware the challenges of embracing this new avenue for campaigning, for although the prime minister was as competent and measured as one would expect of someone whose mantra is “strong and stable”, her online session was at one point ambushed by thousands of angry emojis.
We had a glimpse into digital campaigns of the future, when policies will still be promoted, but the public will be able to instantly express their sentiment. So even more vital will be the ability engage, target and dare I suggest – marshal sentiment online.
In future politicians will have to demonstrate that they are not only capable of governing the country, but also navigating the cyber world.