Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Elections Free and Fair

The pigs have mostly come in to land, the elephants are being washed down to remove the pink dye, the figures are slowly ceasing to spin incoherently and lopsidedly in the heads of those who've tried to pay attention, the snake oil is mostly drying in the grass, the last promises are being swept away with the rest of the junk, the last lies are being told, and the last opportunity for all but a handful of the unctuous, power-crazed mob to get on the telly and be taken vaguely seriously is being franctically sought.

On Thursday the final act of the often fascinating, often immensely dull drama we call a general election will be played out, a climax in which the press finally gets to look even more self-important and tedious than the politicians, and on Friday we will still have a Prime Minister, and a government, but we don't yet know who, nor what form it will take.

We can sure of one thing, though: whatever form the government takes, and whoever leads it, it will keep trying to do things; to control things, to forbid things, to direct every detail of everything we do, and to complicate even the most simple and natural of human acts to the point where life cannot be lived without constant reference to solicitors, accountants and administrative bureaucrats, in case we break the law by getting out of bed.

If there is no immediate winner, which is a distinct possibility, we can be sure of something else, too: some deal will be put together in secret by the leaders of the parties (I mean the real leaders, not the spokesmen they call candidates for PM) involving promises for future positions, payments, actions and laws which we, those who pay for it all, and who they are supposed to represent, will never be told of, but which will affect our lives and our country, perhaps in important ways. Deals will be done, hands will be shaken, pur future will be decided, but those decisions, those deals, will be made purely in the interests of the people who make them. We will not count.

There is a good chance that both PR and the public funding of political parties could be the result of those secret promises, effectively placing the choice of MP's completely in the hands of the party managers. We, the public, will have to pay for it all, and obey their rules, but we will no longer have any real choice as to who represents us. In fact, we will not be represented at all, as MP's will lose any reason to show even the shred of interest and loyalty to their constituents that most of them show now.

The 'leaders' of the three main parties are not leaders at all. I've said this before, but Gordon Brown is not capable of leading anyone anywhere (exactly where would you follow him?). He is not fit to captain his house third team. He's the sort who has to beg to be allowed to carry the drinks so he can feel part of the team. That's the Prime Minister we've had for the last few years.

Cameron and Clegg are quite good at what they do, which is create an image for their party which is inviting and doesn't frighten anyone off, but they are so busy doing that that they can't show any real qualities of leadership. Leaders are divisive, they are strong, decisive, magnetic characters, who hoover up the weak, attract the strong, and are hated by those who want to call themselves leaders but don't know how to do it.

Anyhow, enough rambling.

If I'd got the paperwork sorted out in time, I would almost certainly have voted Conservative. The MP in the constituency where I would have voted is a LibDem, a nice chap, born and bred in the town, a councillor for many years, mayor a couple of times, and a 'pillar of the community'. But as an MP, pretty useless. So I would probably have voted C out of habit, or possibly UKIP, because they are offering something concrete that I happen to agree with, and it might not be a wasted vote in that area.

The other day, on May the first, which is, I think historically, and certainly in practice, a celebration of international communism, I had the anarcho-sindicalists, a Trotskyite bunch (as they define themselves), both hairy and smelly (I don't know why the far left is so averse to personal hygiene) shouting under my window, waving anti-democratic flags and chanting slogans. Someone gave an incomprehensible (fortunately) speech through a megaphone. It's a funny kind of anarchy that demands more laws and regulations, on the other hand the demands for other people's money were rather more predictable.

But they are a bunch of harmless nuts. They weren't violent or threatening, and the fact that they can protest and make such demands in public is a sign of a healthy society. The fact that they will be completely ignored is a good sign, too.

I can vote on Thursday, together we can throw out that incompetent bunch and their mad figurehead, if we wish, and put someone else there. We can put Lord Pearson there, or Nick Griffin if we want, and the EU would cry foul, but that's democracy, and if we wish we have the power to do it.

Others don't. I blogged last week on the Cuban 'elections'. And at Harry's Place (an intelligent and informative, and genuinely free, left wing blog) a short post linking to Yoanni Sánchez, who explains how workers are forced to celebrate Worker's Day in Cuba (complete with spontaneous rejoicing).

So I'm happy to see the anarcho-Trots shouting incoherent and contradictory slogans under my window. It reminds me that the country I have chosen to live in, though far from perfect, is free in many impportant ways. And the fact that I can say what I feel about Gordon Brown, the Labour party and its policies, the EU and its antidemocratic imposition of bureaucratic tyranny, and so on, shows that the country I grew up in is also free in ways that other countries are not.


Vincent said...

I share your instincts on how to vote. And since we spoke last about Cuba I have been researching it a little. There is now a perceived difference between my romanticised fantasy of the island and its day-to-day reality.

CIngram said...

Good to hear from you again. I've been following your trip to Jamaica closely. Quite fascinating.

I loathe totalitarianism in all its forms, not for ideological reasons but because it destroys the human spirit and often human life itself. And I often mention Cuba because I know and have known a number of people who've escaped from the island, and the way they describe it is different in degree even from those who got away from the Soviet Union. I don't know any North Koreans, or I would talk about them as well.

It Britain, as in Spain, I think we get to be governed by this bunch of expensively created populist marionettes precisely because we don't need to worry too much about about our basic freedom to live our lives as we want, nor about our ability to satisfy our basic needs. That might change in he future, but even the EU, another of my bêtes noirs, is not trying to create famine or to imprison dissenters.

We are lucky to live as we do, and the anarcho-Trots, and the talking heads on the hustings platform, remind me of this.