Think Act Vote - "If politics was a fashion brand then nobody would wear it"
In the UK the general election is just a couple of months away and generally there is not much excitement. Until recently I can’t remember speaking about it at all, and some of the people I spend time with are not averse to letting a light hearted conversation sink into a debate of the ‘issues.’ Somebody rang the doorbell asking if I was going to vote Conservative – I did not answer the door but shouted over from the sofa that I would probably vote green – perhaps that sums up my level of engagement. That was until recently where we have been helping out on a project called THINK ACT VOTE. It’s goal is to try and cut through the general feeling of apathy that is likely to dominate the upcoming election.
To challenge apathy you need to get under the skin of why it is happening. We think there are two reasons.
1) Relevance – politics does not really engage people on their terms, even when new thinking and especially new media are attempted the result is often uncomfortable
2) Lack of choice. People think that whatever they do with their vote, they are not being offered an opportunity for change. Sameness can be the fact that policies are not instantly attributable to an ideology like they used to be, something which I am not sure is necessarily a bad thing in itself. However mostly it seems to mean, people think all politicians are equally opaque, out of touch, and even defrauding the public (based on the UK's big MP's expenses scandal.)
Think Act Vote tries to overcome these in a couple of ways.
The first is using fashion as the medium for a politically engaged message. “If politics was a fashion label then nobody would wear it,” is the headline which expresses the point pretty well we think. A simple but hopefully democratic answer is a T-shirt design competition that will hopefully create a fashion item with a political theme that people do want to wear. Katharine Hamnett will be a judge and it will be produced (in an ethical way,) for sale via Komodo . Even though it is the UK election - the design competition is open to people of all nationalities. However the timings are tight - around a week to go.
The second thing is to try and counter the idea that feelings of limited choice in party politics is a good enough excuse for disengaging completely. People are too used to talking about what’s bad about politics that they have forgotten to talk about the good things about change. If the problem is that they would not choose either of the two main parties, we still want them to have a think about the future that they would choose if they got the chance. The project will be collecting answers to that very question through the website, and taking these answers to 10 downing street the day after the election – regardless of who happens to be in residence. I’ll post my own personal briefing to the new British Prime Minister in the coming weeks