Tuesday, 27 April 2010

To tell or not to tell? That is the question

The latest leaders' debate sparked a rather interesting discussion in my office on Friday. Sitting at my desk, I was engrossed in writing an urgent email when a booming voice from the upstairs office nearly gave me a coronary.

My boss, in his typically inappropriate fashion, had begun hollering his opinion on the previous evening's debate to anyone who'd listen. A staunch Lib Dem supporter, he wouldn't hear a word against Nick Clegg's performance, announcing it would be 'a complete joke' if the opposing parties came into office. He then launched into a tirade, criticising just about everything from David Cameron's immigration policy to Gordon Brown's choice of tie.

It soon became apparent this was a one-man debate. The few who'd dared disagree were immediately lambasted, so we all shifted in our seats uncomfortably, hoping the outburst would soon come to an end. It only got worse. Finishing a long-winded speech slating David's fake tan, my boss turned to me saying: "So who are you voting for?"

The dreaded question. I'm the most open person in the world under normal circumstances, quite happy to divulge details of my life to pretty much anyone prepared to listen. However, there are a couple of things I think should be kept quiet. Call me old fashioned, but I've been brought up to believe there are two topics you should never discuss: your salary and who you vote for.

My Dad (a Conservative who always pretends to vote Lib Dem) told me to keep my mouth shut when it came to politics; especially in the workplace. I pointed out I wasn't about to shave my head and join the BNP, but he told me to keep quiet all the same.

Hence why I refused to tell my boss (and eavesdropping colleagues) who I'll be voting for come May 6th. Admittedly I was being a bit self-righteous in the wake of his completely unprofessional outburst, but I had the right to remain silent and I was using it.

His response? "Oh you're such a fucking Tory!" Errr, hang on a minute. He’d just slapped a label on me despite having no facts whatsoever. I’d been judged...in front of all my colleagues. 

The whole debacle got me thinking. Should you tell? Why are politics still such a taboo subject? Why, in this day and age, should people worry they'll be judged by others for supporting a particular political party?

The answer is they shouldn't. We're lucky enough to live in a 21st century democracy, not a dictatorship. People should keep their views private because they want to, not for fear of being discriminated against because they have differing opinions to others.

Whatever the outcome on May 6th, I'll be safe in the knowledge I didn't shout my views from the rooftops. My boss, on the other hand, might be forced to eat a rather large slice of humble pie. 

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