Everything it’s possible to say about it has already been said, and the thundering of laptop keyboards can be heard tappety tap tapping throughout the land. This coming half-term, I’ll be driving out of a country that is within the European Union and perhaps returning to one that is without. Our cat will be travelling with us, his paperwork adequate on the outward journey, possibly inadequate on the return. A cat that is neither one thing nor the other, hmmm? Feels like a metaphor for something.
But to call what comes next uncertain feels inadequate. The UK has been like the cat in the box for three years and counting, and we’ll not really experience the full effect of this insanity for years to come. What vexes me more than anything is the feeling of political homelessness I feel. The fragmentation of our political parties is so complete that you can’t even find a speck to cling to.
Of course political parties have always been made up of factions, but to call yourself a member of the same party when you’re so uncompromisingly opposed on such a central idea is taking the piss. The Conservatives are a mere illusion of a political party, not just two completely different and opposed factions, but a agglomeration of shavings. They were, after all, the party that took us into the EU, but they’re also the party of racists and xenophobes; they’re the party of business, but also the party of fuck business; they’re the party of older Britons in Conservative clubs and the party of city psychopaths; the party of hedgerows and the party of hedge funds. No matter how old I get, no matter how grey, I will never vote for these bastards.
Then we get to the shitshow of the Labour party. The party that took us into Iraq with a quasi-religious fervour; the party of Stop the War; the party of Corbyn and the party of Blair; the party of sitting on the fence until the spikes are so far up your arse you’re technically impaled. I can’t vote for these people. No matter how much I agree with their policies on education and the NHS, this is still the party that introduced the academy programme and PPI, indebting hospitals to the private sector for generations and allowing complete nutters to run schools independently of democratic oversight.
The Lib Dems, of course, marked their cards permanently by going into government with Cameron, and are still split between the liberal sock-with-sandals corduroy crowd and the Yellow Book economic nasty neolibs, who are really just a stray fragment of the Conservative party.
Ignoring the far right parties and the independents you’d cross the road to avoid, that leaves the Greens, who were always set up to be separate local organisations without much central control and can’t even bring themselves to have one leader. I mean, I might vote for the Greens, but it’s just a waste of a vote in most circumstances, in most parts of the country.
Which brings us to tactical voting, the fantasy that people can leave their tribalism and prejudices aside and hold their noses for long enough to vote for somebody, anybody, to keep the Tories out. But can we? Could I, theoretically, bring myself to vote for the bastard Lib Dems just to keep the bastard Tories out? I really won’t know the answer to that until I’m hovering over the ballot form. And I suspect I’m not alone.