Featured, Issues & Ideas | 24th April 2015

Election 2015: 14 things I desperately want to hear a candidate say before this campaign ends

Politicians are afraid. Jonn Elledge, editor of our sister site CityMetric, doesn’t blame them. But these are the things they should finally say.

Photo: Getty


1) Immigration is not a problem. It has not ruined the country. It’s almost certainly not the thing that’s keeping your wages down. In fact, large chunks of the country would break if we didn’t have immigration. Maybe try and be a bit less ungrateful about all those nice people who come over here and run our health service for us, eh?

2) You can’t have low taxes and good public services. You just can’t. It’s either/or, and that’s if we’re lucky.

Yes, the state is inefficient, yes, there’s fat to trim. But if you keep demanding we cut spending, then things are going to break, and sooner or later they’ll include something you like. Either put your hand in your pocket, or quit whinging about bug-infested hospitals and that hole in the high street where they used to lend books.

3) Your house is far, far too expensive, and it would be in the national interest if its price were to fall. Every time you throw your toys out of the pram at this suggestion, you are quite literally stealing from your children.

Either put your hand in your pocket, or quit whinging about bug-infested hospitals.

4) In politics, “common sense” reliably translates as “I haven’t given this more than half a second’s thought”. When you say something is common sense, I say you should think harder.

5) Everyone is entitled to an opinion. My opinion is that you’re demonstrably wrong.

6) Living on benefits is bloody horrible. This is why literally nobody who has five A-levels and an Oxford mathematics degree has ever chosen it as a career path.

7) We do not know more about healthcare than doctors, more about education than teachers, or more about finance than bankers. In those specific spheres of influence, those people are much, much cleverer than we are.

When you say something is common sense, I say you should think harder.

This makes reform incredibly difficult, because they have a vested interests in telling us that anything we do that affects their privileges will bring about the end of the world. Please do not make this easier for them by unquestioningly believing it.

8) You, personally, are screwing up the world.

Not just you. I’m doing it too. So’s she. We are all screwing up this planet in not insignificant ways, and almost none of us have the willpower to stop, and almost no significant politician has had the nerve to tell us. Being the fall guy for the damage caused by our inherent short-sightedness and selfishness as a species is a significant part of a politician’s job.

That reminds me:

9) Being a politician in this country is bloody horrible, too.

10) You did not pull yourself up by your bootstraps. You were lucky enough to come of age at a time when housing was cheap, welfare was generous, and inflation was high enough to wipe out any debts you acquired. I’m pleased for you, but please stop being so unbearably smug about it.

11) White van drivers should not set fiscal policy.

12) You almost certainly don’t know what the EU does or what it’s benefits or costs are. I’m not trying to be patronising. Almost nobody knows that. I certainly don’t – so, with the best will in the world it’d be a really stupid government who asked your opinion about it.

You almost certainly don’t know what the EU does or what it’s benefits or costs are.

The same goes for voting systems. Referenda are all very well for major issues like Scottish independence, but using them to poll people like us on our opinions on anything remotely technical is a really stupid idea. We don’t know nearly enough about it, so we’ll inevitably unconsciously end up substituting an easier question like “Do I like Nick Clegg”. You know which other state used big public votes to make major constitutional decisions? The Roman Republic. And look what happened to that.

13) Has it ever occured to you that that newspaper might be lying to you?

14) No politician can singlehandedly ensure that every hospital ward is clean, that every criminal is apprehended, that every company is growing. If we try to hold them responsible for everything, blame them for every tiny thing that goes wrong anywhere within this great country and then hound them through the pages of the press for this mistake, then nobody in their right mind will want to run for office.

If we assume that politicians have magical powers to make everything better and that the only reason they don’t use them is their own irredeemable venality, then the only people who decide to stand for election will be power-crazed megalomaniacs.

Anyway, enough about me. Can I count on your vote?