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For what it’s worth…

In Hunter Davies’ celebrated book “The Glory Game”, Steve Perryman – a player who made more appearances for Tottenham Hotspur than any other – famously answered, “Labour. Aren’t all the players Labour?” when asked for his political allegiance. Perryman was in fact one of only three players in the Spurs squad who were Labour voters, while the remaining nine, according to Hunter Davies, were, “decidedly racist…apathetic Tories.” After all, it was only a few years after the Conservatives has run this election poster.


It’s a measure of how far we have travelled as a society over the past 40 or so years that racists now have a new mainstream party for whom to vote, to the extent that many black, brown, gay and occasionally even Scottish people are welcomed within the Conservative Party. As Sol Campbell has recently shown, Britons of all ethnicity are now equally capable of mouthing ignorant, self-important tosh that reveals a bewildering sense of entitlement. That’s progress, I guess.

Anyway, over the past few weeks I have thought about Steve Perryman as much as Sol Campbell, because thanks to social media it’s pretty much impossible to escape the political opinions and affiliations of many friends/ acquaintances/ colleagues. I have been as surprised as Stevie P about the voting intentions of some of those people, but it’s not so much how they intend to vote as their reasons for doing so that fascinate me.

As a marketer, we deal every day in the psychology behind decisions that people make. I spent, ooh, about three days in college studying cognitive dissonance and the like and found the subject fascinating. Which is why although I get irritated – like many people – when I see the voting intentions of those who have the temerity to think differently to me – it’s why they think differently that most exercises me.

For instance, one friend of mine is a lifelong right-wing Tory. Norman Tebbit is his hero. And his reasons for voting Tory are that he votes for policies that will benefit him and his immediate family: no one else. That’s it. He only cares for, and feels responsible towards, his wife and two daughters. What’s more, it’s his firm belief that everyone should use this criteria as the basis for their vote.

It was when he first explained this to me that I had my Steve Perryman moment. I assumed everyone voted for a party whose objective would be to benefit the United Kingdom as a whole, not simply themselves. Of course many Tory voters vote Tory for precisely this reason, just as many Labour voters undoubtedly vote for purely selfish reasons.

Personally, I read widely about politics and economics and am fascinated by bigger geo-political issues. I’m pretty convinced that our debt-fuelled model of GDP based economic growth, on a planet where the population doubles every 40 or so years, is unsustainable, and has to change quickly before we a) fry; and b) run out of food and water. For those reasons, a vote for any of the three mainstream parties is pretty useless as none of them will change any of this.

But more troublingly for me is the question of whether I’m the misguided one here. Voting according to some (hopefully) enlightened and well-informed principles is all very well, but can my cross on a ballot paper have any influence over the above? I have got a much better chance of choosing a candidate who will save me £75 a year in tax or ensure that my employees get better conditions at work.

As this is a blog piece and you’re probably bored by now, I will answer my own question. Over the past few weeks I have read many opinion pieces about the election, but this, by Armando Iannucci, was one of the best. If you can’t be arsed to click on the link, he basically encourages all of us to vote from a place of hope, not fear. But read it; it’s great.

There is an awful lot that needs fixing, both in the UK and the wider world, but ultimately, unless you’re either motivated by selfishness or the desire to blame ‘the other’ for what’s not right in your own life, vote for the greater good and who you might think will ensure we will thrive together, whoever that might be.

Oh, and here’s a clue: it’s not fucking UKIP.



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