Some good things for you to read as you wait for tomorrow to make your mark. First, I could probably have written every word of this piece by Gary Younge, just nowhere near as well:
I don’t have a phobia about Tories. That would suggest an irrational response. I hate them for a reason. For lots of reasons, actually. For the miners, apartheid, Bobby Sands, Greenham Common, selling council houses, Section 28, lining the pockets of the rich and hammering the poor – to name but a few. I hate them because they hate people I care about. As a young man Cameron looked out on the social carnage of pit closures and mass unemployment, looked at Margaret Thatcher’s government and thought, these are my people. When all the debating is done, that is really all I need to know.
Try and hold that in your minds as you stroll polling station-wards in a belief that Call Me Dave is a tree-hugging almost social democrat. I am barely old enough to remember the 80s and it was terrifying. Less Ashes to Ashes and more Escape from New York. Let’s not go back there again.
Then, Septic Isle reaches ‘the desperate hours’:
Even if you have to accept that the media were always going to focus on the debates to the detriment of everything else, the ultimate blame for this sorry campaign has to be laid at the parties themselves. For politicians that constantly bang on about and obsess themselves with the almost mythical “aspirational”, hard-working voter, the poverty of thought and strategy over the last month should have been expected. As both Cameron and Brown went to the umpteenth supermarket or school, achieving absolutely nothing but delivering a few pictures which the newspapers and broadcasters would be able to fleetingly use that night or the next morning, you just might have imagined that someone might have reconsidered how they were attempting to reach voters.
Read the rest of his post for the most pertinent commentary on this election, much more astute than anything you will see from any other news source in the next 48 hours.
So it is decision time. Not for me, of course, mine has already gone in the post which means, as it does for Mr Vowl, that I can ignore all the wittering and squarking of the next two days in favour of (hopefully) more meaningful discourse.
But in case you are not so fortunate as to be able to tune out the demented rantings of ‘change… fairness… change…’ because you are in two minds about where to mark your ‘X’ – or even whether to bother marking the thing at all – here is the ten minutes hate round-up of where to turn in order to make sense of the madness.
First, the ever-excellent They Work For You has surveyed candidates on local and national issues. You can bung in your post code and check to see if you agree with candidates on the really important stuff like extra bus lanes and a pre-emptive bombing of Iran, rather than basing your vote on which leader had the least creepiest smile during the TV debates (answer: none of them!)
Next, head over to Democracy Club, where they have also surveyed candidates and are looking for volunteers to contact others who have still to reply. Democracy Club are pals with The Straight Choice, who have built up a database of election leaflets from all parties. They are now looking for volunteers to help them with their analysis of the dodgy pie charts and graphs, ludicrous claims and outright porkie-pies contained within.
If you live in a marginal and like the idea of a hung parliament, Hang ‘Em has the info on how your tactical vote could help to bring it about. And if you are hoping that whatever happens on Thursday we get real electoral reform, Power 2010 is the place for you.
As for Julia’s vote, never let it be said that she would violate the sanctity of the ballot paper, hard-fought-for by previous generations. Still, it is safe to say that her main concern about a hung parliament is:
will there be enough rope?
Except it seems that this is going to be perhaps the most stupid election in history rather than ‘the most important one for a generation’ that we have been promised. By the time Sky News had followed every second of Gordon Brown’s journey to the Palace, as neatly skewered here, I was already losing the will to live.
Still, I managed to banish the urge to take a daily overdose of mephedrone for the duration of the campaign as quickly as it arrived. After the last couple of months (or even years?) of Phoney War, it is impossible not to feel a little frisson of excitement now the real crapshoot has begun.
So let us not be distracted by the parties’ bells and whistles, including but not limited to their fragrant wives, the gratuitous shots taken while riding public transport they are too grand to use at any other time and the block types of newspaper front pages trying to fudge our brains with a shitstorm of fear. Instead, let us make this election about what we want it to be about: real reform of our electoral systems; honesty and transparency from our MPs and – above all – a sense of irreverence and humour not seen since the far-off days of the Monster Raving Loonys.
Make sure you are registered to vote, there are details of how to go about it here. Then join in the fun with Power2010 and Democracy Club, both non-partisan groups running campaigns to keep candidates focused more on the things that bug us and less on how their hair looks on the telly. Can we chuck some spanners at their carefully-crafted media onslaught? YES WE CAN.
You guys, I just thought of something!
There’s MILLIONS of us right? Must be at least a few that are hacked off with all this corruption. So why don’t we all throw a quid in the pot until we’ve got a couple of grand and then we can buy our VERY OWN MP. They’ll have to listen to us then!
And after we’ve paid up, we can force them to bring in lots of really cool stuff, like Lords reform, making sure our banking system can’t bankrupt our country, not degrading refugees (especially kids!) and not making it illegal to take photos in the street. (Those are mine, when you chuck in your quid you can add others…)
Then we’ll REALLY have someone in Parliament who listens – because WE’RE paying them. Great, no? Makes you wonder why no one else thought of it in all the years we’ve had a Parliament.
The best party is but a kind of conspiracy against the rest of the nation
- Lord Halifax, 1750
It is difficult to judge how far the effect of this latest scandal extends outside Westminster. I suspect that many people had their suspicions confirmed, before shrugging their shoulders and getting on with their days, while supporters of the parties allowed themselves to imagine that their point scoring and juvenile tricks were having near-seismic effects on the voters.
In truth, if this weekend marks anything, it must be the final victory of the legions of management consultants, PRs and other snake-oil salespersons over the weakened, bedraggled and under-supplied forces of democracy. This is the true legacy of Blairism: a world based on nothing more substantial than scratch, kickbacks and the brutal hit of Dopamine felt when getting someone else to pick up the tab, be that shareholder, taxpayer or some other poor fool.
And I, who as a sweet, wide-eyed innocent in 1997 voted idealistically in my first General Election, cannot believe that this is all that remains of those golden May days when it truly seemed as if life would get better for all of us, instead of for a cabal of paunchy middle managers who must remain achingly aware in the darkest moments of their prostrate-troubled nights that they wouldn’t be getting laid any other way.
Which only leaves me wondering: if they’re the prostitutes, why are we getting screwed?
If you should find yourself musing on the immigration question this election-tide and wondering if we are, in fact, in danger of being swamped, seen as a soft touch or provider of free swan burgers to all the world’s poor and huddled masses, reassure yourself with this story:
M was arrested, and locked up in Cardiff Bay Police Cells, in extreme distress, dwarfed in man-sized padded clothing to protect him from self-harm. His seat was booked on a flight bound for Afghanistan…
In the dark early hours of Tuesday 2nd March, M was taken with an adult detainee by caged van on the 109 mile journey from Cardiff to Oxfordshire and Campsfield House, an adult detention facility run by the government’s commercial partner Serco. He shared a dormitory with seven men.
M is 14. Except the authorities think he is lying and he is actually an adult. See what you think of the picture accompanying the story.
You could argue that we can’t take in everyone that wishes to come here. You could mention that harsh treatment is an essential deterrent. But if you try to argue that terrified children should be taken from their beds in the early hours, caged and told they are being sent back to the war zone they have fled, I would think that you had lost all touch with what it is to be human. May you be lucky enough never to be in need of compassion from strangers!
Questions that MUST be answered regarding the return to jail of Jon Venables, co-murderer of 2-year-old James Bulger:
1. Does the public’s the tabloid editor’s right to know supercede the importance of not prejudice a pending hearing?
2. Does this right to know also include an element of a right to turn up outside the prison gates brandishing flaming torches?
3. Are we prepared to admit the possibility exists for the rehabilitation of dangerous prisoners anymore?
Perhaps I am slow on the uptake, but these are the questions that I want answered before finding out what Jon Venables has been recalled for.
UPDATE: To note this link to the first Chapter of Blake Morrison’s ‘As If’, his account of the original trial.