Can’t We Just Vote Without Getting Too Political?

To kick off his Sunday column, editor Matt McDonald whines incessantly about the Guild elections.

guild elections matt mcdonald Politics student

The flurry of hastily printed flyers, the reluctant housemates in full-body animal costumes, the eager fresher accosting you on your walk to lectures, only to be met with a firm hand-off to the windpipe.


Yes, lads and lasses, campaign season is upon us once more. The time of year when people you barely know and like less litter your Facebook news feed with substance-less propaganda and change their profile pictures to multi-coloured posters shoddily sketched on MS Paint (rather than the significantly more honourable practice of changing it to a Drop logo to promote Exeter’s brand new…I’m digressing.)

The Guild elections annually pose us humble students with an important question: who (out of this shortlist of self-nominated campus politicos) will best serve the purpose of representing the cause of the common scholar against the intellectual might of the university itself? Who will put in the man hours and the graft to ensure that in this eternal conflict our corner is fought with the utmost tenacity? It is a genuinely crucial decision, one that it is imperative that we as a student body answer correctly in order to preserve our dignity, our integrity and our Lemmy. Our methods for making this decision, though, are in all honestly deeply questionable; and henceforth I’ve arrogantly decided to question them below.

1) Campaign flyers – for those of you who actually read the tat we get bombarded with at the Stocker Road entrance, tuck into the schlocky, schmaltzy slogan and pick the candidate with the cutest picture: shame on you. Shame on your parents for creating you. Give me my oxygen back.

2) The sports clubs – in many respects, it makes sense to select the AU candidate who offers your club the best deal. In others, it stings of the lobbyist corruption that taints most other elections. Can’t we just vote without getting too political?

3) Friends and classmates – because no-one knows how to make up your mind like someone else. Seeing that 34 of your friends have changed their profile picture to the poster of candidate X does not imbue candidate X with the Divine Right of Kings and render them the most competent to run the Guild. Sorry to shatter this illusion.

4) Publicity stunts – oh, PR, PR, PR. If “The Thick of It” has taught us but one thing, it’s that spin triumphs over substance far too frequently. One could serve a steamed turd at a country club restaurant provided that it was properly presented in a nouveau cuisine fashion on a light bed of rocket salad. Bearing this in mind, the candidate who makes the biggest splash on campus and sets the most tongues wagging is not necessarily the best organised and best equipped. Berlusconi was controversial. Marvel at the wonders it did for Italy.

5) The arbitrary last-minute panic vote – when you take the time to vote because you feel you have to, but won’t invest the time in a bit of basic research into who the best person for the job is. I can only hope that the Good Lord is as wanton and lacklustre in deciding your fate.

If you vote – and yes, you should vote – do it properly. Take it seriously. Enter a dialogue with the candidates. Analyse their manifestos critically. Call their bluffs. Hell, if you’re keen, why not contact their seminar tutors to see how well-organised they are? It will always be a case of sorting the wheat from the chaff, and in this crop of candidates, there’s some top-quality wheat and some positively faecal chaff. I implore you: take your time. Together, I’m sure we can make the right call.

Vote now: