Thursday, 6 May 2010

A Huge Election

Yes that title is a double entendre. Well spotted.

So anyway today is a bit of a special day as it the day when the great, good and Russel Brand go to the polls to elect their new government. We only get this chance once every four or five years (even I don't care about By-Elections) so here's why it is so important that you cast your vote today.

Or should I say it is important that you 'did' cast your vote. It is 9.56pm as I write, and the aforementioned polls close in four minutes. At which point the counting will begin, the BBC will whip out it's trusty swingometer, and the race for Number 10 will really be on.

From chatting (possibly a little too heatedly at times) to friends it becomes clear that many people are unsure who to vote for. This could be because, as the author Will Self recently said, you can slide an anorexic cigarette paper between the two main parties in terms of their ideology. What you are left with therefore is a battle between personalities, which is terrifying given that we are now a nation of people who think nothing of sitting in front of our television every summer morning watching some publicity-hungry moron sleep.

But we're not talking tv, so let's drag this back to the plot. I'm trying not to think about the fact that the same people who made SuBo famous are charged with the responsibility of electing a new government. Unfathomably, I retain enough faith in humanity to think that people might actually take this seriously and will have considered their political position before voting.

Not that I am trying to sway anyone to vote one way or another. At the last count I had a readership of eight. This is hardly enough to write a political piece likely to change the result in any constituency. Even if I wanted to write a persuasive piece on this it would be a fruitless pursuit. It is now 10.10pm. The polls are closed and Jeremy Vine is telling me all about the Conservatives Battleground.

What I can tell you is that in my constituency the Labour Party is unbeaten in General Elections for 45 years. The current MP is one Shaun Woodward, a former Conservative MP who switched allegiances shortly after Blairism became cool, and is now Northern Ireland Secretary. He rarely visits St.Helens and has a personal assistant called William whose job it seems is to be as unhelpful as possible. Woodward was placed in St.Helens South simply because we were considered one of the few seats Labour had in which a former Tory would be tolerated. People here just vote Labour by and large, because they still beleive in social justice.

Not everyone, mind. I was staggered to learn earlier that no less than 12% of voters in St.Helens South voted Conservative at the 2005 General Election. This may not seem like a lot, but when you consider that 'Tory' is one of the more offensive terms in the local dialect it seems to grow in significance. I should very much like to know who these people are. It would be fascinating to get inside their heads and find out exactly why they would support Cameron and his ideals of savage cuts in public spending, more money if you get married and fuck the consequences and..............well that is just about the extent of his policies even at this late stage. What we do know is that he represents a party which wrecked industry in this and almost every other town in the 1980's, sent unemployment spiralling into the stratosphere, and spawned the kind of capitalism that has become the norm now even under a Labour government.

And so to the Lib Dems. Their leader Nick Clegg has been rightly praised for his performances in the recent television debates but to take that into account too much takes us back into SuBo territory. The truth is that Clegg can promise free chocolate, beer and sex on every street corner 24 hours a day because he knows that for now at least he is highly unlikely to have to implement his policies. Clegg is a nice chap, but he is an opportunist, feeding off the mistakes of his rivals and dragging disillusioned Labour/Tory voters with him. I doubt very much that he would be able to make good on his manifesto were he to defy the odds and be elected. Who is going to pay for his idea of not taxing people paid under a certain amount on the first £10,000 of their salary, for example?

For his part the Prime Minister has made mistakes, but there seems little doubt that his lack of popularity is down to his dour nature and peculiar facial tic rather than anything to do with policy. The economic downturn happened on his watch, but in truth it is a global problem and we should open our eyes to the fact that it was not Brown or Alistair Darling alone who created the problem. Labour's biggest mistake took place some years earlier when Tony Blair was premier, and took the unpopular, arrogant and very probably illegal step of going to war in Iraq without the necessary backing of the United Nations. Countless soldiers have died as a result of this decision, and we seem no nearer to achieving whatever ludicrous Endgame the former PM had in mind. That was over eight years ago. We're still there.

The BBC have just interviewed Bruce Forsyth, veteran presenter of Celebrity Reality TV Monster Strictly Come Dancing, for his predictions on what might happen. That they feel they need or should do so tells you much about how Joe Public's approach to politics has changed down the years.

Stand by for a hung parliament.

No comments: