Tuesday, 29 January 2013 02:30
By Donyelle Bird-Browne
Public opinion by polling is a major concern of every politician. Opinion polls take a sample from the electorate, and are generally a reliable way of garnering a sense of what the people are thinking.
If our private point of view is shared by family, friends, and associates, then politicians need to be made aware. Those focused on their constituency would have already noticed and started speaking on the issues related to those viewpoints.
Politicians focused on their constituency would be trying to use the information to strengthen their political position platforms and they would know what to do in the event that the polling results cannot be used in their favour, but may in fact be used against them going into a general election.
The people's reaction and attitude to specific events can be tested through public opinion polls. The politicians would do well to examine a poll pertaining to crime in Antigua & Barbuda very carefully.
We all live here on island and we have all noticed the drastic rise in crime. We have noticed issues pertaining to handling of information, evidence, alleged persons of interest etc, which result in incidents like escaped convicts, random shootings and assaults in communities where police presence should be prolific.
Politicians need to always be mindful of the thoughts and feelings of the electorate about incidents like these.
The people of Antigua & Barbuda have been asking for real reform within the police department. Our policemen and women are out there fighting to protect all that we hold dear, and they are sorely in need of assistance. This is far from an easy road. I would want to believe that in the upcoming general election this will be debated on the opposing platforms of the UPP and the ALP (or is it ABLP) , and in the various town hall meetings, as one of the predominant issues.
I would further venture to say that if a politician was truly interested in his electorate, and in parliamentary success, then he or she should by all means be prepared to present a plan for dealing with this problem. In my opinion, through the glaringly apparent haze of hopelessness and desensitization, the Antiguan and Barbudan public realizes that something must be changed in the Royal Antigua & Barbuda Police Force in order for us to ultimately win the battle against crime.
Mark my words: society will remember right up to the election that their candidates must have produced, and must continue to produce, sound resolutions for crime. The impact of public opinion shown in objective polls must never be discounted, and politicians have in the past been made very aware that certain issues are a deal breaking point of concern, and the expectation is for action to be taken to put it to rights.
Public opinion, from what I am hearing, is demanding programmes for crime reduction; and folks I can tell you, it will be done because of the impact of public opinion on political life. This is not to say that politicians generally do what polling results tell them, but there are times when attitudes can be changed based on an avalanche of public opinion via media fire.
We have all seen it election after election. Radio programmes, newspaper articles, public meetings featuring the character assassination of the unfortunate candidate of the week chosen for the verbal, public flaying we have become accustomed to, and for the attention of the same public; yes that would be you and I, who will be voting in the polls.
My questions to you my fellow Antiguans, is: have we elevated our way of thinking to a level where public opinion does not determine votes based on the dirt that has been fed, thus negatively impacting an otherwise objective process? Have we elevated our way of thinking to a level where public opinion determines votes based on the relevant issues that have been tabled and respectfully debated?
Keep in mind that although it may not appear to be so, it however is indeed so, and politicians are always under our control. Whether they choose to take the public opinion poll into consideration or not, sooner or later they must do what the electorate wants or quite simply, they will lose the election. In a democratic society, the power will always lie in your hands.
This is the absolute dictator of all aspects of political life. Public opinion. We would all do well to remember that.