« Home | The freedom to be a horrible bigot. » | It's all just a little bit of history repeating. » | "Like anti-Semitism". » | Scum-watch: Spot the deliberate April fool. » | The more things change, the more they stay the same. » | Migration issues. » | In defence (somewhat) of George Osborne. » | Fear, panic and politics win yet again. » | Alternative pledge card. » | Reporting according to your own biases. » 

Tuesday, April 06, 2010 

And so it begins...

It's difficult to know whether it's a relief the election has finally been called or not; at least we now know there's exactly one month until the day itself, and that the phony war which has been up and running since the beginning of the year is finally over. On the other hand, we now have a month of inconsequential disagreements, truly ignoble consensus and the political equivalent of the stepping over of beggars to look forward to. We've already known for years that this is not going to be an election in which the political parties are going to even attempt to reach out to everyone, regardless of colour, class or creed; instead this is going to be all about the swing voters, the marginals and with it, the soulless, bankrupt triangulation that all three parties imagine is going to appeal to these "undecideds".

Partly this is down to that as political bloggers, hardly any of us are completely undecided as to which way we're going to vote, even if we've still not certain of which actual party of the left or right it's going to be. Us wonks also are at least (hopefully) reasonably well informed about policy, and have spent the last months and years arguing about it. We could happily vote tomorrow and then attempt to completely ignore the campaign entirely. Others are so convinced that their views are the ones deserving of support that they're going to take the step from preaching to the converted and actually going out knocking on doors, which I've always found impressive regardless of the views being expressed. Less admirable are those just going out shoving leaflets through doors, but I'm sure that's still a vital part of any modern campaign.

All of that in mind, the real reason for apprehension is that this is going to be a campaign in which so much change is being offered in exchange for almost absolutely none. The real differences between the three main parties are going to be heightened to a truly unnatural degree, even while the main policies which are going to matter the most are almost indistinguishable. All three main parties are offering spending cuts which will go further than those in 80s, by their own admission; the difference is just how fast and hard they're going to come. This is while we still don't know just how hefty the cuts will be in comparison to the inevitable tax rises, although certain departments according to the parties will be "protected", although that will often still mean cuts in real terms. All three go into the election supporting the utter suicidal lunacy which is continuing the war in Afghanistan; all three go in prepared to continue the neo-liberal economic orthodoxy which resulted in the 2008 crash, and the bailouts which went with it, without the reforms and full nationalisations which should have followed; all three are pledged to continuing the various wars against the unemployed, the sick, drugs and "failed" asylum seekers; all three, including the Liberal Democrats, who simply want to postpone the decision, want to build a successor to our (snigger) "independent nuclear deterrent".

It's already started, this minimisation of the other and the maximisation of the "normal". Gordon Brown came out with this truly pathetic, almost mawkish sentiment about how he came from a "normal middle class town, from a normal middle class family", a hardly veiled dig at David Cameron but also one which just shows how the so-called Labour party has completely abandoned those it was set-up to represent. All those who still proudly consider themselves working class at least should now know where they stand. Not quite as distasteful but still vacuous and counter-intuitive was Cameron's "great ignored", when they would be more accurately be the "great consulted"; the real great ignored, as argued above, are going to be those outside the middle and upper and those against the prevailing political orthodoxy.

This was always going to continue, but it's only going to be exacerbated by a media which has never been so powerful and yet never so confining. You only have to watch politicos squabbling on Twitter as they've squabbled amongst each other for years, only without the coverage and everyone being able to see it to see how this fights about almost nothing are going t. No doubt about it, this is going to be the dirtiest campaign since 1992's low point, and while social media will somewhat mean there's more ways to bite back against it than previously it will also make the smears travel faster than ever before. We should also dismiss the "old media" at our absolute peril: while it's never been anywhere near proved that newspapers changed the way people vote, you only have to look at the low-level campaign the Sun has been running against Labour since it turned against the party last year to see how weeks and months of half-truths, distortions and complete lies become deeply bedded in minds. Both the Mail and the Telegraph are already running tomorrow with class war and the battle between hope and fear on their front pages. The satirists and spoof merchants will be out in force, but it'll never be enough.

If this gives you the impression that it's hardly worth voting, then you couldn't be more wrong. Our voting system more or less enshrines tactical voting where your favoured party doesn't have a hope of winning, and this at least gives some meaning to what otherwise could be a total waste of time. Voting for the least worst option may not be inspiring as being carried along on the warmth and majesty of refined and uplifting political rhetoric, or being won over by an especially eloquent speech or a out of the ordinary policy, but when it could mean either your hated Labour, Tory or even Lib Dem MP losing their seat, it makes it all worthwhile. The least worst option of the three main parties is, in my view, as if you couldn't have guessed, Lib Dem > Labour > Tory. If however the Liberal Democrats have no chance of winning but the Tory does and the Labour candidate is a bit of a lefty and not a Blairite clone, then there's no complete shame in voting for them. Same goes if you're Conservative inclined, he or she has more in common with Ken Clarke than Michael Gove and the Labour incumbent is someone who on TheyWorkForYou has "voted strongly for" ID cards, the Iraq war and Labour's anti-terrorism laws. Likewise, if you're in my position where even though the boundaries have changed and supposedly Labour as a result has a majority of under 1,000 but you're damn sure the Tories will get a large majority and the Lib Dems are way too far behind, then throw all caution to the wind and vote for someone who reflects somewhat your actual views, whether it be the Greens, the TUSC, some other lefty group or even UKIP. Hell, if you want to just make something approaching a protest, then you can always tick the BNP box, although spoiling the ballot will work just as well. The way to rise against the campaign which we'll get is to vote, not to abstain, which suits the politicians down to the ground, as they'll legislate and rule regardless of their actual level of popular support, as Labour's 22% last time round showed. The best result that can be realistically hoped for remains a hung parliament, although my sneaking suspicion is that on the 7th of May we'll being finding ourselves under the yoke of a small Conservative majority. Between now and then, let's at least ensure that we talk back just as much as we're talked down to.

Labels: ,

Share |

Post a Comment


  • This is septicisle


    blogspot stats

     Subscribe in a reader


Powered by Blogger
and Blogger Templates