Political ignorance is no longer bliss


Ignorance is bliss. Whether we like to admit it, is something each of us lives by. Whether it is delaying checking your email to find out just how you did on that essay which you rambled through in the short hours before the deadline; deliberately leaving your phone on silent when you remember you were supposed to meet your friend an hour ago and are still in bed with no intention of getting up; or most commonly refusing to be informed about exactly what went down in Sugar last night. However diverse our examples may be, we all enjoy living within that bubble of ignorance where nothing bad can happen.

This was true of myself, and still is, but what I’m centring it on is of politics. I’m not going to lie, I’m not the most politically astute student, news stories on power shifts or tax rises fail to grab my attention, and instead my attention shifts to the blurb for the next episode of Sherlock (which isn’t something to look down on, Stephen Moffat is a legend).

So last summer, when chance came about that I stood with my friend as she had a smoke the conversation arose – “Who are you voting for William?”. My simple answer – “I dunno”. My simple thought, “I don’t care”. Because quite frankly I had no concern about who would be leading my country. That was until she mentioned a fellow named Clegg. Now I might have been ignorant but I had heard of this man, so I asked her why she was planning to vote for this politician. Her response: “No tuition fees!” (Oh hindsight, you wonderful thing.)

This was it for me. I said I will vote for him too. She told me to look at the policies online (I didn’t) and started feeding me some facts (most of which blended into one). I never read any policies, didn’t watch any debates, and didn’t pay any attention to the endless news articles about the election. All that I retained in my mind was those three words “no tuition fees”. So along I went on D-Day to vote, I ticked the box, and walked away, thinking about what I would have for tea that night, instead of thinking about how I might just have contributed to shaping the next Government of the United Kingdom.

Coalition. I didn’t know what that meant when it formed, nor did I care either. The election was finished, the vote didn’t go in my favour, but I was much more disappointed when Stacey Solomon didn’t win The X Factor (thank God for I’m a Celebrity) so I gave little thought to this outcome.

Cue my bubble of ignorance bursting. First, my attention was finally caught by the shake up of the structure of the NHS. Having worked for this organisation in my gap year in a moderately high position, I found their proposed changes to an already practical system absurd. The abolition of the Film Council was also something that I found hugely frustrating, and of course, lest we forget, the abolition of those three words “no tuition fees”.

We can be mad, we can write letters of complaint, we can even protest (but really – what did Camilla do to anyone?), but I personally feel I cannot. I don’t have the right to complain, even though I do. A lot.

This is the first time in my life where I feel affected by politics, and it has opened my eyes to the fact that I can’t be content anymore ignoring who puts the prices on my milk. My ignorant view that all politics is the same has been completely refuted. I’m not alone with this, most of my friends were as careless as myself.

Changes such as the increase in tuition fees have been made and there is nothing we can do to reverse these. One thing myself and many people should take away from this is the lesson that we as students have firmly arrived in the target range of politics, and if we are not alert and careful in this terrain, the only people we have to blame for getting damaged is ourselves. But damn you Nick Clegg.

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