On Being a Less-Than-Ideal Citizen

Yesterday, in a moment of weakness, and because I am fond of doves, I walked into a polling station and voted for Caroline Pidgeon.

I shouldn’t have. While the uninformed – and I must count myself among their number – have a right to vote, they have a duty not to. Ignorant and irrational voters pollute the pool. They make it less likely that election results will reflect the informed preferences of their fellow citizens.

Ideals are one thing, reality is another. Keeping up with local politics has never been a priority for me. For the last few months, I’ve actively avoided news about the London Assembly and mayoral elections. Three seconds into a Zac Goldsmith interview and I’d change the channel. One glimpse of a newspaper article about Sadiq Khan and I’d turn the page. I accepted campaign leaflets, then binned them unread. Clipboard-wielding volunteers who turned up on my doorstep stood no chance. They would ask if I was familiar with their candidate’s policies and I’d invariably reply, in my best Glaswegian accent: “Naw, a just wanty wrap masel up in tin foil nice and cosy” and after a dramatic pause, “then get right inty the microwave and blow masel up tae fuck.”

Some information made it through: I know Mr Khan intends to freeze public transport fares for four years. To me this sounds like cheap populism. I know Mr Goldsmith is no expert on Bollywood movies or the Central Line, though he would like to be. And I know someone in his camp thought it wise to let the dogs out.

My fellow citizens, truth be told, are not rational. They read The Sun and the Daily Mail. On the eve of major elections they’re distracted by trivia quizzes and celebrity endorsements. They have strong opinions on issues they make no effort to understand. In this climate my unethical dalliance with Ms Pidgeon counts as only a minor transgression, no more than a microscopic drop at the deep end of a murky pool.

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