A general election has been called so the news is filled with reports of daily updates, initiatives, changes and betterments that each of the parties, when elected, will introduce. The election will be a chance for us to give a mandate for the party that will improve our lives and cast aside the effects of the policy failures and deprivations that we have had to endure recently. After all, shouldn’t the politicians have kept the bankers in check? Some of the ideas are radical; most are rhetoric but very few of them were raised by the incumbent administration or the principal opposition parties, who practised accusation and not remedy. Today, during the last Prime Minister’s Questions of this parliament, it was more of the same.
So now we have a choice to make on 6 May; do we vote for the tired, washed-out and ineffective Labour party, the untried Conservatives who appear to have few genuinely workable policies but who do represent a much-needed change or the Liberal Democrats, who advocate common sense but are frighteningly naïve?
It seems that the more secure a party becomes in its mandate the less it is concerned about the electorate that put it there. It always seems to happen and there is no reason at all to believe it isn’t going to happen again. Parliamentarians become more arrogant in the abuse of the power we’ve given them the longer they are in government so change is not only good, it is also necessary. Do we let them get away with this because we are merely complacent or has the comfort in which we mostly live our lives made us apathetic? Either way, our response to all the airtime is largely a dull lack of interest tinged with anger at having heard it all before. It’s tedious and I’m fed up with it already, two days into the run-in. It shouldn’t be that way; the winners will be in power for perhaps another four years, if we don’t have a hung parliament, so they will affect every aspect of my life for the foreseeable future. I need to take an interest and I need to feel that the guys I vote for will deliver for me. Trouble is I have no enthusiasm on either count.
We are still working through the expenses scandal and I am still waiting for my elected official, who holds high office at Westminster, to explain to me why, if he thought it prudent to voluntarily return £12000 because of the ‘public anger which the expenses revelations have understandably generated’ he took the money in the first place. He apparently spent it on gardening costs – can anyone explain why an elected official in public office thought that was OK in the first place regardless of whether or not contrition now prevails?
It might be time for a real change, even if that proves such a disaster that it shocks us – and them – into putting an accountable government in place. But what is the alternative? And should they get my vote?
I’ve looked up the options for political parties that are registered and there are at least 25 in England, which excludes those in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. There is certainly a lot of choice; in fact, you’re spoilt for it. Some are fairly well-known – the Communist Party, the British National Party and the UK Independence Party get a seat on Question Time on the BBC now and then but what could some of the others do for me? I don’t smoke so the Legalise Cannabis Party wouldn’t get my important vote, even though I don’t necessarily take issue with their cause. Nor am I a pensioner so the Pensioners Party will have to wait. I’m also a little nervous that the opening words on their home page are ‘Be warned, people have short memories…’. Er, isn’t that a sign of getting old? But what about the Social Equality Party, the Natural Partnership of Great Britain or the old favourite, the Monster Raving Loony Party? One of them must have something to offer and, after all, couldn’t be worse than the pompous, arrogant, self-serving crew that we have to suffer now.
What exactly is on offer? The Monster Raving Loony Party has clearly set out its manifesto and advocates that ‘all politicians be made to swear a “hippocratic oath”, preventing them by law from being Hypocrites. All politicians should be made to stand by their policies, or or at least admit that they were wrong’, which I’m for. I also like the proposal to ‘Ban all terrorists from having beards as they look scary’ but they won’t get my vote as they also propose removing the three lions from the English symbol and replacing them with badgers. Hmmm. What about the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain? No, I’ve spent too long in my career stabbing colleagues in the back and I’m not going to vote for people who want me to be a worker again. The Green Party says it is launching its biggest campaign ever, believing it has a real chance of having Green MPs at Westminster. Its members do seem to have very strong views on transport and would divert ‘money currently being wasted on huge road projects (about £30bn) and put more of the UK’s transport budget into public transport, especially local schemes for walking, cycling and bus-travel’. I’m thinking traffic jams, cycling in English winter, people in anoraks telling me that it’s good for me. They also want to stop ‘top bankers’ from continuing to ‘to pocket your money in the form of unearned bonuses, while factories, firms and farms are forced to lay off more and more workers by the day, week and month’. Question is, would my vote reduce banker’s bonuses, which might be a good thing, while keeping jobs on farms? I don’t quite see the connection and I’m not at all happy about all the chemicals the farm workers spray on the fields around here. That doesn’t warrant a mention in the manifesto. The Prolife Party seems obsessed with babies – what about the economy? The Third Way has a sophisticated, convincing website and some erudite words about how we might all get safely through this century – ‘Third Way is designing a moderate economic agenda and narrative for the 21st century. We are advancing progressive pro-growth ideas to promote American economic vitality and ensure that this country embraces its role in the global economy in ways that benefit all Americans’. Hold it a minute; Americans? Something odd here, especially as their founding President and Vice President for Public Affairs look like they’ve knocked at my door on a Sunday morning and asked if I’d heard the Good News.
This suggests that the alternatives to the main parties are, to say the least, not that special. So, as so often, it comes down to voting for the lesser of the evils. I’m not certain I can do that but voting is important, a right that was hard-fought for. And if you don’t vote then perhaps you shouldn’t put rants like this on your blog. It’s going to be a long few weeks until 6 May…