Are You Excited?
Theresa May called a General Election a little over a week ago. She wants to continue her “strong and stable leadership” by doing something she said eleven times she wasn’t going to do. Seems reasonable. Twitter and Facebook are awash with political posts as each voter tries to convince others why they should vote for their party.
Except, that’s not what they’re doing, is it? No, political discussion in this country is not about how one party will make things better, but why the other choices are twats. I admit, in my situation, it isn’t hard to use the Conservative Party’s record in government and come to the conclusion that they’re not the group for me. I’ve shared some anti-Conservative material myself. However, doing that doesn’t immediately make any other choice the right one.
The calls are going out for tactical voting based on the premise that anybody but the Tories must be better. It strikes me that a lot of people, not all, maybe not even most, but a lot voted to leave the EU because they felt anything but the status quo must be better. We see this in how some people don’t even care what our exit deal is with the EU. They just want out because the current system has failed them. Leaving the EU doesn’t necessarily mean things will get better, just as unseating the Tories doesn’t automatically turn the UK into a utopia. In both scenarios, it will take a lot of work.
You can forgive all of the parties, except the Tories, for not having a manifesto prepared yet. It’s hard to prepare for a snap election. Harder still when you’re dealing with a Prime Minister who backtracks on repeated assertions after a stroll in the countryside. With less than six weeks to go, we voters are in a pickle. Perhaps we broadly know where parties stand on certain issues, but we don’t yet know what they plan to do in government.
With this lack of knowledge, we instead see attacks. Corbyn’s a commie (he’s actually a socialist) and a threat to national security, Farron’s a homophobe (he’s not, though) and illiberal, the Labour Party are spineless, the Lib Dems are irrelevant. On and on it goes. Were this all coming from the Conservative propaganda machine, you could understand it. Yet it’s not. In between sharing memes about Jeremy Hunt’s NHS record, Duncan-Smith’s history of dickishness, and Theresa May’s dictatorial rhetoric, Labour and Lib Dem supporters seem content to attack each other.
The Great May Hunt
Meanwhile, the Conservative strategy is to hide in plain sight. A handful of carefully choreographed photo opportunities appears to show May touring the country, appealing to voters. She’s not, though. Instead, she’s appearing at staged events, to minuscule crowds made to look greater by tricks of photography. At these events, she makes a speech and refuses to field questions. Big Sister Theresa also refuses to do a television debate. It makes sense when your political rivals are just as happy to attack each other as they are you. The ideal outcome for May would be for the TV debate to go ahead without her, and for Farron, Corbyn, Sturgeon, Caroline Lucas and that bloke who looks like Ade Edmondson to tear each other to pieces. None of them will come up smelling of roses in that pile of shit.
This is where the tactical voting pleas fall apart. Regardless of grassroots campaigns urging the electorate to vote tactically to unseat the Tories, too many are already committed to their beliefs and prejudices. Many who might be swayed to vote tactically will inevitably be put off by the venom directed towards their favoured candidate by their supposed allies in the “Progressive Alliance”. Hatred for the Conservative Party might rally a few thousand, maybe even tens of thousands, to the tactical voting side but across the millions of expected votes, this is a drop in the ocean. Even Open Britain have kept their tactical voting initiative down to twenty seats with slim majorities because the electorate will not unite as a whole. Twenty seats will not defeat a Conservative Party expected to make gains elsewhere.
Minority Trumps Majority
Thus, we have a situation where a minority of voters are inclined to vote tactically, and the majority will continue to vote with the party that they support. The sum total of these efforts? A Conservative government until 2022 because the Tories only need 35-40% of the ballot distributed across the right constituencies to win. The Lib Dems realise this, and so are making a push not to form the next government, but to replace Labour as the official opposition. Corbyn supporters are putting their faith in the inaccuracy of recent polls.
All of this, however, leaves me so thoroughly sick of the process. It’s not that I don’t care – this is my first post on my website in the whole of April, so clearly, I care a bit – it’s that I cannot stand what British politics has become. Democracy is supposed to be about engaging people. We’re supposed to debate, learn, consider our stances and vote based on who best fits our views. Instead, we’re left with a race to the bottom slanging match with the victor the one who has best demonstrated their opponent is a wanker.
Even the media are complicit in this shitshow. You expect the right-wing press to go after anybody that threatens their desired fascist state, but when the BBC, Channel 4, Independent and Guardian get in on the act, it’s enough to make you shrug your shoulders and say, “Ah, fuck it, then!”.
Hard to Care
Through all of this, like a mad conspiracy theorist, I have to wonder, is this all part of the plan? According to the media, the message is clear; the Conservatives will win the election and increase their majority. Labour will suffer a crushing defeat. The Liberal Democrats will probably retake some of their seats. However, for all the bickering, sniping, angry Twitter rants and everything else, we’ll still end up eating the same shit sandwich served in Theresa May’s Blood Soaked Cafe. The NHS will crumble. Poor and needy will be worse off. More severely disabled and terminally ill people will be found fit-to-work. EU workers will continue to be left in limbo. Fat cats will continue to collect big bonuses. Nothing positive will change.
I know such defeatism plays into Tory hands. Perhaps I wouldn’t feel so detached from the process if I felt my vote actually mattered? There is only one party that comes close to representing my views – and even they’re not perfect – but they stand so little chance of winning my seat that it scarcely seems worthwhile. Voting tactically isn’t appealing either given the venom aimed at those with my political leanings over the past week.
Oh well, it’ll all be over soon.