Last week, I was so apathetic about our impending general election that I didn’t even bother watching the landmark televised Prime Ministerial debate between our country’s three leading contenders.
Jaded from the deceit and hypocrisy that appears to be a politician’s stock in trade, I’d grown disenfranchised with our political system and secure in the knowledge that real change isn’t a viable option in capitalist countries.
Sorry, I meant democratic countries.
I’m always getting those two confused.
It’s impossible for any new party to compete with the financial backing and subsequent media coverage that the established political order in the UK now enjoys.
This uneven playing field prohibits the possibility of any new ideas and political parties being given a credible opportunity to communicate their ideas to the public.
Having grown accustomed to this evolution of modern politics, I’d already resigned myself to voting for a party that has no viable chance of short, medium and – most depressingly – even long-term success.
If I could be bothered to vote at all that was.
There’s so little to choose between the party formerly known as labour and the conservatives, I just didn’t care about what happened come May 6th.
A situation common to many young people in the UK I believe.
This is an awful realisation, especially as I’m aware of the sacrifices people have made through history to earn their right to vote.
But my apathy for our ‘one party’ state was resolute.
Then something strange happened.
I went to my office this Friday, just as normal, and people were actually talking about politics.
And not in a “20k for a duck house?” sort of way either.
No, they were actually interested in something a politician had said.
About his own policies no less.
Still, it was early.
And the end of the week.
So I let most of the political banter wash over me, and threw myself into my work instead.
Which typically involves checking my personal emails for an hour, before trawling the web to see what’s going on in the world.
And the hot issue in every major media outlet?
Last night’s televised Prime Ministerial debate.
Most pertinently, how relative unknown, Nick Clegg, lead the Liberal Democrat party to a resounding victory.
This was the unanimous conclusion amongst even the most partisan of publications.
Suitably intrigued, I decided to see for myself what all the fuss was about.
True to the hyperbole endemic in our media, the sensationalised reaction far outweighed the actual deed.
Yet there was no denying that the man who’s neither Gordon Brown nor David Cameron was a cut above his more illustrious counterparts.
In fact, the most redeeming feature about Nick Clegg may very well be the fact that he isn’t one of the aforementioned individual’s.
And he was savvy enough to play up to this.
Naturally, it was refreshing to witness a politician more interested in talking up their own party’s manifesto instead of launching a smear campaign against their closest rival.
Again, something I’m not familiar with in UK politics.
Two decades of labour and conservative governments have institutionalised me into the dark arts of politics, and the fear they surreptitiously try to instil amongst the masses.
I’d almost forgotten what it’s like to listen to a politician talk about the positive changes they have to offer.
Admittedly, Clegg did the calculated and cynical thing last Thursday; by presenting the Liberal Democrats as the antithesis of these two parties.
But it’s hardly his fault that both labour and the conservative party essentially occupy the same political ideals now.
If evidence were needed of the increasing identity crisis amongst the UK’s established order, the tories provided it with their recent advertising slogans.
One of their banners actually presents the conservative party as a solution to the ever increasing divide between rich and poor.
I guess irony must be fashionable again this year.
Fortunately, the recent MP’s expenses scandal has laid politicians credibility low and convinced people that they can not be trusted.
This applies to the Liberal Democrat’s new ‘wonderboy’ too.
Nick Clegg may very well turn out to be the genuine guy he’s portraying himself to be.
Then again, maybe not.
Either way, my apathy’s been replaced by something resembling hope.
Of course, it’s the hope that kills you.
Still, I can’t wait for my next political fix this Thursday.
And the chance to see if the emperor’s new clothes really are as splendid as I’ve been lead to believe.
Then again, Clegg may well be given a good dressing down instead.
Either way, the universal aim of these televised debates has been achieved.
To inform the electorate and generate more interest in the forthcoming general election.
And they might even achieve something greater than that.
Whether by accident or design, these Prime Ministerial debates have helped level out the playing field by giving an equal forum to the three main parties.
What could be more exciting than increased pleurisy in UK politics?
One last thing; if you haven’t registered to vote by April 20th, it doesn’t matter what you believe or who you support.
You won’t be able to vote.
So if you’re not registered – do it now.
And make sure you have the choice to affect change in support of whatever your political beliefs may be.