The Choice…

7 04 2010

So I sit here having just submitted another job application. Whilst I do not fall into the “record youth unemployment” that Mr Brown has apparently created, I am, as most are, feeling the effects of the past few years. Finding work is difficult, yes, but there is something even more difficult approaching us. The question of who to vote for.

This will be the first general election that I am eligible to vote in. I missed the last one by a few months. So I feel that I should be feeling a sense of excitement. A sense of knowing that finally I am able to have a say in the country beyond local elections. A sense of arrival into the adult world of taxes and crime and pensions and housing.

But I’m not. I’m feeling disillusioned. I’m feeling like I don’t particularly want to vote on 6 May. I know I will vote, of course I will. But I don’t know who I will vote for. I know it will not be Labour, I’m frustrated by Brown and his ‘old guard’ who seem intent on red-taping everything that can physically be taped. That choice isn’t particularly hard.

The question is, should I vote Tory? I could, I mean, it seems to be the ‘easy’ thing to do. It’s probably the only rational choice if I’m keen on really having a say on who governs. But there’s something making me pause. Something holding me back from casting off my youth and throwing myself into the arms of Cameron et al. Something which looks like this. And I really don’t like it. Negative campaigning is as destructive to yourself as it is to the opposition. It reinforces the idea that the Tories don’t have all that much to say. It reinforces the idea that this election is not about ideas, but about personality. Most of all, it reinforces the idea that the Tories are desperate. They know they’ve lost significant ground in recent months, and are now trying to play with the suggestion that it’s pointless, and, by implication, dangerous to vote for the other guy.

But of course there’s more than one ‘other guy’. Ask Nick Clegg. There’s always that option too. Voting for the Lib Dems. Middle of the road politics with little hope of achieving much beyond a parliamentary footnote. That could be an ‘easy’ vote too. Except then of course, in the event of a hung parliament (one caused, of course by my own indecisiveness), the Lib Dems suddenly have all the cards. They probably would throw their weight behind Cameron, but the parliament would be weak, and probably even more of a threat to economic recovery. That might not happen if I stick with the Tories. If enough people like me realise that not voting Tory would hinder us in the mid/long term, then perhaps we could avoid a problematic hung-parliament situation.

Of course I could play my own moral card. I could vote for the Greens. I’d feel better in that I’d be lending my voice to a specific cause. However then there’s the issue of throwing my vote away, because, in all likelihood, the Greens are going to achieve nothing in the election. The sense of feeling ‘adult’ and concerning myself with taxes and crime and pensions and housing would be gone, stripped from me for the next five years. By that time, of course, there may be a clear path, someone who has said something which has made me sit up and listen. Something which has really made me think that they are the right person to support as they are the person who is engaging with the things I’m concerned with. Then again, there may not be that path, and my hope for feeling ‘adult’ may not happen for another ten years. Or fifteen. Suddenly I’m at the point where my mid-life crisis has hit and politically I’m still not feeling ‘adult’ as the things which the politicians should be speaking to me about are not being said.

And so the choice is a hard one. The options and implications are not good enough for me whatever path I choose. The Tories don’t fill me with confidence, and whilst I’m more optimistic about a government under Cameron than I am under Brown, this is only, for me, the lesser of the two evils. It’s like being optimistic that you’re only going to get burned by your toaster this month, as opposed to your toaster and your kettle last month.

There is of course, one final option. I could turn up, put a cross in all the boxes, leave my paper spoilt and feel that I’ve made my own political point. Ultimately meaningless, of course, but it would be my own message to the politicians. Except that this feeling of rebelliousness would fade very quickly, and the feeling of regret that my determination to pass into the land of the ‘adult’  has been ruined by a petulant act of teenage rebellion would stick around for all of the next five years.


Televise That…

5 09 2009

And so, it seems, I was wrong. In part. And it’s not often I say that. I wrote, back in July that Mandleson was considering a TV debate, and how it’s something I would like to see, but not something I thought would happen as I didn’t think Brown or the Labour party would fare well out of it. Nor did I think the Lib Dems would get a look in.

Then I saw an advert today whilst watching Sky Sports, it was on behalf of Sky News, and it encouraged me to sign a petition. Now I sit up a bit when I see such requests on TV in advert form, as it is obvious that some thought has gone into this advert, rather than a chain email being passed around. The petition, available here to sign, is for a live TV debate with the three main political leaders. Apparently, since it was set up at the start of this month, Clegg and Cameron have both agreed, in principle, to the idea. Brown, as I suppose we’ve come to expect, is dragging his heels.

I’ve just put my name to it, and it seems I was the 6861st person to sign the petition, which goes to show just how popular this thing is. Which returns me to my original humble thoughts. I was wrong, I didn’t think this thing would happen. However I’m delighted to say I was wrong as it means that there will be some form of political engagement on a national level where the credentials of the party leaders are examined and scrutinised. From here the nation as a whole can begin to judge who the next PM should be. This is an important step on the road towards public re-engagement, it should be the first step of many made by MP’s over the course of the next few months.

Televise This…

30 07 2009

Apparently, according to Lord Mandelson, our esteemed leader is considering the idea of a presidential style television debate with David Cameron in the build up to the  forthcoming general election. Of course, when this news broke yesterday, Number 10 were quick to distance themselves from the reports. The consequences of such a debate could be disastrous for Gordon Brown and the Labour party.

Don’t get me wrong, I for one would love to see such a debate. It would be, if nothing else, pretty good political tv. The opportunity to see Cameron against Brown in a one-on-one debate is intriguing. Free from the heckles of party backbenchers, this would be more interesting than PMQ’s, with the men on the spot having to think fast, answer convincingly, and remain cool. Obviously the Lib Dems wouldn’t get a say in this, nor would any other political party. This obviously would create the idea that Britain is aspiring towards a two-party state, much like America, which would create a large amount of unrest amongst the smaller political parties.

Nor should it be entertained by members of the Labour party. Brown would, in all honesty, struggle to maintain his composure in such an environment. It has long been rumoured that he has a short fuse, and by being placed, alone, in such an environment, it is possible that this would be exposed. He is not the most engaging public speaker as it is, and the more charismatic Cameron would, I believe, score big points with the voting public in such a debate.

The idea perhaps raises a bigger question though. The issue of how to re-engage the public who feel let down, angered and uninterested in politics is one which will dog all politicians (as well as Esther Rantzen) in the forthcoming months as we build up to the general election. Such a consideration by Brown is an attempt to re-engage the public. Expect more ideas such as this over the rest of the year.


28 11 2008

I don’t know which bit of news has annoyed me more today, the sentencing of the seven members of the gang who killed Gerry Tobin, or the interrogation and arrest of Damian Green for revealing information about various immigration blunders by the Government. At this stage I wish to add that I am not in the best of moods, and so am unwilling to be sympathetic or indeed impartial.


My problem with the first story is this. All seven members of the biking gang were sentenced for killing Tobin. The judge admitted that he did not know exactly who pulled the trigger. In horse racing this is called “hedging your bets”. Obviously the murder was appaling, as is the back story to it. But at the end of the day, the judge has sentenced six people for killing someone when they didn’t do it. I would be willing to bet that in say, five years, at least two of them have appealed this sentence on the grounds that they didn’t shoot Tobin, thereby giving the name of the guilty man. I thought it was the job of the police/ detectives et al to work this stuff out? I know it might be hard, but surely that’s their job? As it is, they have come to court unsure of the real killer, and so the judge has had to “hedge his bets” and sentence them all.

This though trifles in comparison to the Damian Green story. Arrested by counter-terrorism officers, interrogated for nine hours, whilst having his home and office raided; it sounds like something more fitting in Stalinist Russia than 2008 Britain. And all because he brought some information which painted the government in a bad light into the public domain? Really? I agree with good ol’ Dave Cameron here, the public have a right to know this sort of information. It has been indicated that immigration policies were proving poorly handled, and Green merely brought this to our attention. Ok, it makes the government look bad, but that’s the oppositions role in this thing called democracy. They are there to seize upon mistakes of the party in power in order to bring about change. There has been something seriously flawed in governmental operations, but instead of worrying about that, arresting the guy who brought this to light was the choice made. Whilst the government, and now the police force too, are insisting that the Labour party had nothing to do with this there is likely to be an element of doubt (although conspiracy theorists are already relating it to the departure of Sir Ian Blair) as in my mind the whole incident paints both Labour and the Metropolitan Police Force in bad light.

Reading through some comments about this on Nick Robinson’s blog, there is one very interesting comment made. The writer DistantTraveller asks three questions:

I think we are entitled to ask if Sir Ian Blair and Jaquie Smith knew about this in advance?

If not, why not?

If so, how do they justify it?

Either way, this is not looking good for the two groups. It is interesting how this could maybe work positively for the Tories following, what, on the surface, looks like a bad revelation.

One quick question…

4 05 2008

The time of night and my general levels of fatigue will necessarily keep this post very brief and to the point. In fact, it isn’t as much a post as a simple question, especially to the Labourites I know who may read this blog.

Now I know that you are all very much anti-discrimination. In any form. We all know that you shouldn’t discriminate on the grounds of race, gender, age, sexuality etc. Right?

Should we therefore accept the tired old line that Dave Cameron and Boris Johnson are no good simply because, as former Etonians, they represent everything that is wrong with the education system? To me, that seems like discrimination based on the grounds of what school someone went to. This seems a touch hypocritical.

As someone privately educated for all my school life, I will make no apologies for the education I received. I also wish to make it clear I had little choice in the matter (the two schools I thought about at 11 were both private). So is the boring line that either of the two former Etonians simply a poor, irrelevant form of personal jibe which bears little relevance to the topic? I would suggest so…