I have never voted. My wife and children have, but I’ve resisted the temptation. Despite family pressure, I up to now, have mastered the art of saying , no.
Despite my refusal many million have voted as part of the television phenomena – the reality show. Big Brother and I’m a celebrity and talent shows like X factor and Britain’s Got talent gather millions of votes. There is no apathy, almost everyone want a share in the outcome.
If this is true about something that is of little importance, why is it not true about elections, where the results are important to both individual and his society? Is there anything special in a television programme that makes people want to vote or has politics declined so much that we turn our back on the process?
Well, we’ll see what influence television has and whether or not it energises the general election. The three leaders of the British Parties – Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg – have agreed to debate with one another over three television programmes on ITV1, Sky News and the BBC in the weeks leading up to the general election. In Wales the three channels will have a debate that also include Plaid Cymru.
We will see if these historic debates have an effect on the vote. It is possible, as opinion polls in an election campaign tend to show the lead between parties narrowing, to see whether the debates have an effect on the eventual results. If Britain follows the USA example, it could make a big difference.
It is very likely that the television debate between Richard Nixon and J F Kennedy, lost it for Nixon. Why?Because President. Nixon looked shifty on the box. Of course, things are different here, we are not electing a President but a Member of Parliament. And of course, there are other influences at play when electing a local Member.
But there is no doubt that the leaders personality is important and can make a big difference to the result. We have moved closer to the US in our electioneering over the years and it is to there the parties will be looking for the specialists to advise on the three television programmes.
But there will be one big difference between these historic programmes and reality programmes. The voting.
All of us will have to leave the warmth of home and bother to go out and cast our votes. It won’t be a question of lifting the phone after the programmes end. Well that’s the way it is at the moment but who knows about the future?
And what about the referendum? Is this the way to increase the vote. A television debate between Cymru Yfory and True Wales and a phone poll afterwards? And Andrea Benfield announcing the results after the phone lines are closed!
I guess it will be a little while yet, before the ballot box get and honourable place in Saint Ffagans.