David Canter, Cameron, and Dimbleby: my politics on your politics

The American's have an approach to offender profiling called the top-down approach, and, in the direct words of David Canter from a talk I saw him do last year, it is "bullshit" - we weren't allowed to put that in our essay.

The top-down approach looks at evidence from a crime scene and decides if the killer is "organised" or "disorganised", and there are two sets of personality traits, one for each category. So, for example, if a criminal doesn't hide the murder weapon, they would be considered a disorganised offender, and would therefore be deemed to have the characteristics of one. These characteristics include: being bad at relationships; not having a good job; having few friends; having a low level of education, whereas someone who did hide the weapon would be married; employed; sociable etc. Offender profiling is designed to help police get an idea of the type of person they're looking for to aid their search, and it isn't needed very often. But I'm sure anyone can see there's a problem with this research, supported by Hazelwood and Douglas. It's reductionist, it's too simple.

Canter used smallest space analysis to see how the factors interlinked, and do you know what he found? Absolutely no correlation. But you could have guessed that. And then the British designed the bottom-up approach which involves looking at lots of bits of evidence individually and drawing circles on maps and asking lots of people lots of things and generally getting an all round image - and even then it isn't a simple organised/disorganised divide. The bottom-up approach creates a specific profile to the criminal, and is therefore more successful.

That's my best explanation for how I see a lot of people treating politics - with a view that's too reductionist for their own good.

Earlier tonight I heard David Dimbleby explain how the Question Time audience has a wide range of views, from left to right, which he described as, "Green, Labour... Labour... Labour, Conservative, UKIP", and he makes an excellent point - though the Tories are just as divided, but that's not the point I'm making. It highlights how two people of the same political party can meet and have almost entirely different views.

My political views are no secret, and over the past few months I've had two people, both of them good friends, look genuinely uncomfortable when they told me they voted Conservative in May. They looked at me as though I was about to say we couldn't be friends anymore, as if I could only bear spending time with people who thought exactly the same as me.

First of all, surrounding yourself with people who think exactly the same as you is no way to live, it means you're without fresh ideas, new takes, and alternative perspective to entertain and engage with.

It also means you're not that much of a fan of democracy. Everyone has a right to an opinion, and everyone has the responsibility to respect the right to other people's opinions, even if they don't respect the opinion itself. Everyone should be allowed to voice their views - peacefully, I might add - to people who don't agree with them, without fearing any repercussions.

So when people make this assumption of a top-down, Tory is Bad, Labour is Good (or the other way round, but you know), verdict, it's narrow minded and highly reductionist. If someone voted Conservative it is not fair to assume that they would defend every move Cameron makes; in fact, with how much he seems to wish to drift from his manifesto, it's not fair to assume your Joe Bloggs Tory voter agrees with anything Cameron says. The same goes for Labour - if someone voted Milliband in and doesn't agree with Corbyn's politics, they still voted Labour. Even with a political spectrum as wide as the UK's, there won't be a party for everyone specifically, and not everyone will agree with 100% of the statements in their chosen party's manifesto.

Both of these people I have been friends with for months, years, and they thought that telling me their political views would change that - that I'd think they were a bad person. After knowing someone for that long, I've probably worked up a good idea of whether I think you're a bad person or not, and it's not from your political views.

I've met some bloody awful Labour voters and some bloody lovely Conservative voters, and it's time people stopped reducing total strangers - or even friends! - to where they scribbled on a bit of paper on May 7th.

In the words of Canter, it's bullshit.


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