Electoral Dysfunction

Having already written about The Conservative PartyThe Labour Party, and the other possible kingmaker parties, I was going to write a blog about all the other itty bitty parties and independent candidates that are running in the election. But it turns out, there are 426 of those in Great Britain alone, with a further 36 in Northern Ireland. Let’s be honest, no one wants to read a blog that long. Though I should say that the ‘Party Party’ sound awesome. Oh and the Monster Raving Looney Party always have a soft spot in my heart, and their ‘Manicfesto’ policies this year are superb e.g. ‘Quitters will be encouraged not to start in the first place to improve their self esteem’. If you want to check out all the minor parties running, have a look here: http://search.electoralcommission.org.uk/Search/Registrations?currentPage=1&rows=30&sort=RegulatedEntityName&order=asc&open=filter&et=pp&et=ppm®ister=ni®ister=gb®Status=registered

So instead, here’s a few (non-comedy) personal thoughts about this election….

It’s a terrifying thing when you can’t see a single election outcome that would actually be ideal. There are results that might be preferable than others but really, that isn’t saying a lot in favour of them. I have spent an awful lot of my self employed time reading manifestos and press coverage over these campaign weeks and while I’m fairly certain of who I’ll vote for on May 7th, I’m still not 100%. It’s been weeks and weeks of some of the most pathetic personal attacks I’ve seen from the press but also the politicians. Scaremongering us that our votes won’t count for who they’re for – which is actually how votes work in the first instance, no matter what their impact may be – or that certain coalitions of parties will cause ‘chaos’. Chaos is an evocative word creating images of the sort of mayhem we can’t have already seen in the last five years of government where we’ve had a rise in homelessness, poverty, people using food banks and y’know, riots.

My feelings are that when the main parties are all similarly promoting cuts, privatisation (albeit some with profit caps), only vague levels of dealing with tax avoidance, no word on tackling the Work Capability Assessment that’s hurt so many, no real clauses to tackle climate change and a want to still promote our weapons industry and financial sector, then how can they attack each other’s policies? Sure there are the varying degrees of tackling the economy using made up money they’ve imagined for manifestos, that will all be dropped once in Westminster. But apart from that, it has to be personal attacks because it’s all so stale there is nothing left.

We have reached a time where our campaign has made this planet seem like an alternate parody universe. One where comedians such Steve CooganArmando Iannucci and Russell Brand are delivering serious messages, while politicians are fronting farcical campaigns. How could Labour’s press team really think putting policies on a cenotaph would work? They must know how social media works by now? How could the Conservatives think that getting their friends & supporters to sign a letter to a paper that supports them saying they all support them, would get past a social media savvy world? It feels like they continually learn nothing. Meanwhile teenagers trump highly paid spin doctors with their publicly aired crushes on party leaders. It is utterly ludicrous and pathetically bleak that they are all as out of touch as they accuse each other of being.

The more I think about it all, the more I really feel a level of despair. It doesn’t seem like previous elections were like this, but then during other elections there wasn’t so much media scrutiny. There weren’t so many ways you could investigate where the support for parties was coming from. Also, I don’t think I was engaged so maybe I just voted how my parents did, or voted based on the few bits of news I’d seen. But it is different now and it’s why, regardless of how you feel about Russell Brand*, Ed Miliband having an interview with him was probably one of the smartest moves of the campaign. Nick Clegg going on the Last Leg or reading out negative tweets about himself was another. Things that immediately connect with a certain, now quite wide, age range of frequent internet users who do feel disillusioned. Things that maybe, slightly, make a candidate seem more human and real.

I’m fairly sure that no one has really connected with voters, outside of confirming fears. I’m still quite worried that despite the usual barrage of celebrity endorsements, that voter turnout will still be lower than we want it to be. I’m almost certain that it will be another hung parliament, this time leading to weeks of the aforementioned chaos, but caused by all politicians and their petty tactics. I hope this is the beginnings of a change further down the line. Next election we may have a greater range of differences between candidates. More campaigning with hope and possibility rather than why everyone else is less shit than they are. Maybe even more attempts at engaging with people properly.

I think I’ve decided to vote Green. I’m still not entirely certain. I don’t want another Conservative led coalition government but I also don’t want to be scared into voting Labour, a party I won’t support until they change their aggressive immigration policies. Miliband on the last TV debate said ‘I can’t promise to reverse all the cuts’ which made me wonder how exactly he is ‘an opposition’. Where I live is a Lib Dem seat at the moment, but it looks like it’ll be Labour this time round. So I feel I should use my vote to support a party I actually nearly fully agree with. Will I regret it? I think as always, the people regretting things on Friday will be those who didn’t vote at all, and those politicians who could’ve embraced some honesty and truths and given the public anything at all to really believe in.

Two other great blogs on the election:

@loveandgarbage on Twitter’s piece: https://loveandgarbage.wordpress.com/2015/05/04/the-election/ 

And @hrtbps on Twitter’s piece: https://medium.com/@hrtbps/who-should-you-vote-for-ab7958440aa4 

* I’ve already had someone on Twitter tell me that they are disappointed that I agree with Brand. I hadn’t said I agree with him but according to social media if you RT something that means an endorsement because fuck sense. I’ve written about Russell before, and having met him in the real life several times, I’ll still always say he’s a decent bloke. Also, yes he said not to vote and is now saying to vote for Labour, but y’know people are allowed to change their minds, despite how Twitter feels. If you watch his video he doesn’t give them the most ringing endorsement either, it’s more a defence against a Conservative government. Plus, as someone who can influence so many teenagers, what ever you think of him, I think it’s honourable he’s using that audience to speak about politics. And yes, you are entitled to your own opinion on him, that’s how human beings work.

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2 thoughts on “Electoral Dysfunction

  1. I’m not telling you how to vote, but my feeling is that, unless you’re in a very marginal constituency, you should vote for the party you really feel represents you, not tactically. I can’t vote for the Greens because they’re anti-science and that makes me uncomfortable, but if you like them, I say go for it. The labour party started as an odd little fringe movement, and they’ve done ok. In twenty years, we could have a Green government.

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