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Voters should shop around for best value for money

IT is that time again; my mobile phone contract is up; I need calls, texts, as much data as I can get my hands on. A customer of the Blue team for many a year, I am cutting all ties and signing up to the Red team; cheaper and more data.

This is a common experience for many people in today's consumer goods and service market - the customer is most definitely king. So why do we not shop around when voting?

On Thursday, May 7, the people of Northern Ireland will select a goods and service provider in the form of their local MPs. I would argue that there is no difference in shopping around for the best political party, which will represent your needs, and shopping around for the best deal on your mobile phone provider. No difference, except for one: price.

Recent data suggests a typical full-time worker in Northern Ireland earns about £24,000 (Office of National Statistics, November 2014). In this income bracket, approximately 20% will be taken in taxation, equating to £4,800.

MPs are responsible for spending this £4,800. Think about that for a second: £4,800 is a substantial sum of money. Contextualised as a product, or service, it would be one of the biggest purchases any individual would make.

Do people want to continue voting for a Green team, who do not represent their economic views? Or an Orange team, who are not representative of their social views?

So, please be a savvy shopper on May 7, because we will soon be locked into a five-year contract with no warranty, or insurance - and certainly no money-back guarantee.

OWEN McMEEL

London

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