Seven Stories about the Election

Non-voters, yesterday
  1. Less than a week now, and while one hates* to judge people on mere appearances, all hope is lost. I was in the tyre place this morning, and couldn’t help but remark that you don’t ever see Eloi in the tyre place, only Morlocks† or those too hideous to qualify even as Morlocks. My stunning insight was that a lot of people have their brand new cars on company car or PCP leases so short that they never get around to needing a new set of tyres. All of the tyre-place-avoiding Eloi are Tories, of course, too insulated by money to care about the effects of leaving the EU or 700 more years of austerity. And the broken down Morlocks with their blistered budget tyres and unaligned wheels aren’t going to vote. Unaligned, geddit? Metaphor, innit.
  2. I listened to Adrian Chiles on the radio talking to people who don’t vote. People who don’t register to vote because they don’t want debt collectors to find them. People who don’t understand the issues. People turned off by the tenor of the debate. People who live in safe seats. People who don’t see anything in it for them. 18 million non-voters at the last election. 18 million. Which is more, Chiles wryly notes, than actually voted for the Conservatives.
  3. Here’s another number: 200 parliamentary seats have not changed hands since 1945. And another: 14 million people live in these places, where a vote for anybody other than the incumbent might as well be two sausages crossing over a pile of mashed potato.
  4. I tried to engage some students in a discussion the other day, centred around the Vote for Policies web site. Theoretically, this is a fine idea. Looking at the actual policies divorced from tribalism ought to be a way of dispassionately arriving at a voting decision. But of course, it might as well be a web site that ranks sausages and potato varieties. First of all, what sane person with an iota of feeling for their fellow humans would even need to think for half a second about the best way to vote? The idea that you could have been alive for the past 10 years and still consider voting Tory without being an absolute monster is a fucking joke. And the other problem is, unless you’ve got a PhD, you might struggle to distinguish between the policies, because the cunning bastards use similar words in a similar configuration. For example, most of the parties talk about planting trees. Or they talk about reducing greenhouse emissions. Or they talk about renewable energy. But while some parties (Green) mean what they say. Others (Conservatives) don’t. And I was going to say “clearly mean” and “clearly don’t” except that my point is that clarity is what’s missing. Showing a class of 15-16 year olds these policies I realised quickly that they had no idea that the adverb “substantially” used by the Conservatives (or “Party 1”), as in “substantially reduce” has no legal standing. Nor that “by 2045” was so very different from “by 2030” if you happen to be a 70-year-old Conservative voter or an SUV-leasing Eloi.
  5. So how much chance do I really have, in the time available, to not only overcome their reluctance to discuss politics and educate them about lying liars and weaselly weasels, when its the fact that you can’t trust the words spewed out by the lying bastard politicians that puts so many people off voting in the first place?
  6. It reminds me of what Adam Curtis once said about “Oh Dearism”, which is most peoples’ reaction, most of the time, to the news. The media, unfortunately, is institutionally constructed to make us all horribly confused and upset about the state of the world. Wall to wall coverage of all the horrible things happening and all the horrible people making it happen is almost guaranteed to make most people believe that the situation is hopeless. And as I was typing those very words, McCartney in the background is singing, And when the night is cloudy there is still a light that shines on me. Which might give me hope except that he then goes on to say, Let it be, which is not what we want. Of course, Greta was touted as a shining example of how one person could make a difference, but now even she is being quoted as saying the school strikes “achieved nothing“. It’s almost as if someone has been whispering in her ear.
  7. For the election that’s mostly about Brexit, I feel like Brexit doesn’t feature much. This is probably because I’ve avoided the television coverage and refuse to click on video links and so on. I mean, the news is just designed to make me go, Oh dear. So I haven’t heard the on-message messaging or anything like that. But the daily headlines have all been about other issues, which in an ideal world would be the most important ones. Poverty, housing, NHS, education, and so on. What I mean to say is, every press conference or photo opportunity or policy launch has been about everything other than Brexit, whereas the only issue driving my personal vote this election is Brexit. Which is why I’m having to hold my nose and vote for a fucking Tory defector in Buckingham. I mean, all these people singing the praises of Heseltine and Major. We hated them, too, once.

* Loves

† The Morlocks are, according to H G Wells, the “descendants of the British working class”.

%d bloggers like this: