In a matter of 3 days, I’ve managed to have more first-hand exposure to politics than I’ve ever had in my entire life. I owe this entirely to the wonderful world of Twitter.
My first interaction with a politician was with Bury North’s Labour MP candidate, Maryam Khan, whom I must say is absolutely inspiring. Her work transcends political, religious, and national boundaries and I believe she is a wonderful role model to young women everywhere.
Our interaction was brief but pleasant and it left me feeling hopeful about reaching out to other political types in an effort to educate myself further. However, I would’ve never guessed that what started out as a simple exercise in stretching the mind would leave me feeling so patronised.
I became interested in learning more about Lib Dems’ health policies, with specific regard to NHS coverage of Chinese medicine (including acupuncture) and homeopathy. Currently under Labour, NHS covers both Chinese medicine and homeopathy in some areas. But would they both continue to be covered under Lib Dems?
I decided to ask Oxford West and Abingdon’s Lib Dem MP Dr. Evan Harris. I figured since he’s a doctor he’d be able to give me the most informed answer. Forgive me for forgetting that most “Western” medical doctors have a ridiculous attitude toward traditional medicines. And forgive me again for forgetting that I was not asking just a doctor, but an MP.
I was excited when I saw that he had written a response, as you always hear about politicians never taking the time to respond. That said, my excitement was short-lived. Instead of giving a simple yes or no, he tried to be diplomatic and said that if a medicine or treatment is not considered “efficacious and cost-effective” it will not be covered under Lib Dems. Now, to me that means NO. So after twittering back and forth and receiving comments like “Simples” and “What’s not to understand,” I’ve now come away feeling quite frustrated.
There are a lot of first time voters out there and they might also become disenchanted, confused, or even feel bullied by this type of behaviour. I’m sad to say that Dr. Harris’ response epitomises the sort of culture that excludes newcomers from politics. At least, that is what had me disinterested in politics to begin with.