“The entertainment starts now” …. 01.04.2015
Background: The author, still deaf (no improvement from yesterday, sadly) is a life-long (well, so far!) Trade Unionist, having served “stints” in the T&GWU, APEX, MSF, Unison, and most of all, GMB. In the dark ages, he was an active Labour Party member – in Westbury CLP (that was really DARK for Labour!) and in Cardiff North, serving as the CLP Secretary for a few years. He left, for a decade or so, because he wasn’t a fan of New Labour, but has been cajoled and persuaded to re-join about a year ago – now living in Cardiff South & Penarth. Trouble is, he’s not sure now it was a good idea; especially as he is not a huge fan of the sitting MP. Apparently, there is a General Election called – who to vote for ….. Cue much angst, and pray for wit.
Of course, there is a really good reason to vote Labour, and to install “Ed” in #10 …. Like most decent people, I think that anything – ANYTHING – that motivates the vile and attention-desperate individual, called Katie Hopkins, to leave the country has got to be a good reason. Trouble is, we all know she won’t honour that pledge, just like the succession of others in the past (Griff Rhys Jones, Myleene Klass, Michael Caine, Phil Collins etc.), they all talk big but always whine away into the background. So, I need another reason …
Let’s look at my options, based on those declared candidates to date:
1. First out of the trap, and producing eye-wateringly expensive leaflets – three to date – (heavy duty card, multi-coloured and glossy finished) was UKIP. (I hope someone is keeping track of his election expenses?) He appears to be a lawyer of some description, and – as yet – hasn’t said anything outrageous (which puts him at odds with the bulk of his party!). He’s fibbed a bit, mostly about UKIP’s intentions for the NHS.
UKIP, to my thinking, is a single-issue, single-personality party. Other than Europe, their policies seem – at best – muddled, contradictory often, and rushed. The whole package seems to be centred on “that bloke down the pub”, Nigel “hate Europe, but happy to take millions from it, and, ooh, married a German” Farage. The outer veneer of respectability and “matiness” has begun to slip, as more and more refugees from the extreme right jump aboard. Ironic really, when you consider what he thinks of refugees and “asylum seekers” (wrong sort of asylum, Nige!).
Could I vote for them? I think the phrase “NOT in a million years” springs to mind.
2. Next to appear were TUSC. Lone female, looking desperately nervous (am I that scary? ) and not really listening when I said, “I’ve not got me hearing aid in, can you hang on?” Muttered something unintelligible, thrust a cheaply produced leaflet at me, and legged it. Didn’t seem to canvass anyone else in my street, so I appear to be “special!” (I’ve long suspected this …). Usual shopping list of unobtainable demands, albeit I believe the sincerity is, at least, authentic.
I’m tempted. I know the candidate, but that won’t put me off! He’s a former Unison activist and involved in virtually every cause in town. Bless him, he even reminds me of me, when a lot younger (only I was better looking, Ross), but is this not simply a wasted protest, because we know he isn’t going to save his deposit, let alone win?
No one else has delivered a leaflet yet, but I am aware of others standing …..
3. Those lovely people from the Conservative party, of course. On the basis that I do not want former mentors and peers, sadly no longer with us, to come back and haunt me, that is never going to happen. Nothing would, or could, induce me to vote for a party so clearly motivated by the interests of the few. I detest Cameron, Osborne, Gove, May, Hague, and the like. No one sums up better their attitude than the idiot former Foreign Secretary, Malcolm “I’m entitled” Rifkind (yes, I know Jack Straw was also caught in that sting; equally greedy, but not equally stupid in his defence answer).
We have a “PR-PM” (someone else’s wit, not mine).
The Labour Party of Gordon Brown is NOT responsible for the global melt-down in the Finance world; far from causing it, most sensible pundits acknowledge he saved us from the worst effects. It was big banks greed, big banks arrogance and big banks incompetence that caused it. Austerity and deficits are THEIR responsibility alone. No wonder they want Cameron & co. to continue; they’ve let them off and bludgeoned most into believing it was someone else’s fault other than theirs.
4. The coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats … Like many, I used to have a bit of a “soft spot” (a marshy bog in Somerset!) for the well-intentioned, slightly dotty, street lighting & dog poo party. I even liked Vince Cable at one point, and read his book. They are now a busted flush, because in power, they have been found severely wanting. At least I no longer feel any sympathy for them; their image is now clear. They are Tories, pure and simple.
5. Plaid Cymru ~ the Party of Wales. Trouble is, there isn’t one Wales anymore, and – consequently – PC has become almost a coalition of itself. I like Leanne Wood a lot (for those outside Wales, she is the Party leader; a Rhondda girl and very much a Socialist). I am fortunate enough to have known her in the past, when we both worked for the Probation Service, and she is an attractive personality. She speaks well, has strong principles and radiates trust. Unfortunately, she is already a sitting AM (Welsh Assembly member) so is not a candidate for Westminster. Instead, the local candidate is a deselected Labour politician (there are a few of them in Plaid!), and he isn’t as charismatic as Leanne.
The reality is that, even if they won all 40 of the seats they will contest (those in Wales) they are not going to govern. They’re pinning their hopes on influencing a hung parliament, along with the SNP in Scotland. Truth is, the best they will achieve is possibly – at the very best – 4 or 5 seats, mostly in North West Wales or West Wales. The bulk of the seats, largely in the South East, they will – as usual – struggle in. They also have problems internally, as former personalities petulantly speak out and detract from a single message. Add to that, they have a small number of “anti-English at any price” extremists … hardly welcoming to an English boy like me!
6. The Greens – I like Caroline Lucas, the solitary Green MP in Brighton; I even like some of their objectives, but they have been found wanting under a bigger spotlight. The current leader – Natalie Bennett – seems out of her depth, and has said some truly stupid things, when she actually stopped coughing at awkward questions. Sorry, they have lost all credibility to me.
7. There was, at one point, a chance of a Class War candidate!! Always good knockabout stuff from the Anarchists, but – sadly – the candidate has withdrawn.
8. Which leaves me with Labour ….. Sigh. I really want to believe; I really want to want to vote for them. Leaving aside the sitting MP, a professional, careerist with a sizeable chip on his shoulder and who blocks people on social media who dare to question him (yep, me included & I’m a constituent AND a party member!), the party seems – to me – ultra-cautious, apologetic (even for things they aren’t responsible for) and unimaginative. They have become obsessed with appearing like the Conservatives, only slightly less so. Why??
I know I am an “old fart” nowadays, but I still believe in the “Attlee” approach of building your way out of a recession. Invest in public facilities (schools, hospitals); build social housing; improve the infrastructure (and I don’t mean waste £50billion+ on shaving a few minutes off train travel to Birmingham from London!). There is so much that could be done, with interest rates at an all-time low. Put people to work building things; not rely on a discredited service sector that makes bugger all, other than large personal bonuses.
Sadly, I hear nothing from anyone in the Labour Party on these lines. I am in a quandary. I have never abstained at an election since reaching voting age; I have usually voted Labour at every opportunity too (where they stood a candidate).
They have four weeks to convince me …..
“The entertainment starts now” …. 01.04.2015