I don’t know about you but whilst I enjoy the cut and thrust of politics, particularly around election time, I am always disappointed by the run-up to the General Election as it is like a masterclass in the Art of the Unanswered Question.
Prospective Parliamentary Candidates and sitting Ministers steer away from answering the tough questions about the big issues.
They don’t give answers based on the facts, a clear understanding of the problems and an honest suggestion of how they will tackle them.
At best, they answer a question they haven’t actually been asked. At worst they castigate the journalist or the public for asking the ‘wrong questions’.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll be tearing your hair out when watching or listening to them stick to their script while engaging in this skilful, yet terribly frustrating, dance of dodging the issue.
For example, one candidate who will remain nameless, was being interviewed on Radio Four and was asked whether she thought classroom sizes of over 30 kids, combined with more than 17,000 unqualified people teaching them, was contributing to the number of children with low levels of numeracy and literacy.
To me, it was a perfectly good question. But I assume for the previously senior minister it was toxic. She refused to answer the question and at one point said it “wasn’t the right question”.
It was terrible. When they are asked for a personal opinion about such important issues, they seem hell-bent on refusing to admit that there’s a chink in their armour.
Well, life’s not like that is it and, as well as getting me frustrated, it got me thinking about the effect this deliberate circumventing of important questions has on voters.
If politicians don’t act or respond like ‘real’ people, then the electorate will struggle to be interested in politics. At the last election polls showed that only 9% of voters trusted the answers of politicians and it was even lower at 6% for non voters. So surely during this election, politicians should be aiming higher.
Perhaps our politicians need lessons in the art of connecting with people in a sincere way.