Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Death by boredom - the paradoxical election

It is very difficult to even commence the process of excitement around the forthcoming General Election - the cold weather and the sheer vileness of the prospect of the next three months' pseudo-campaigning combine to provide the perfect excuse to slip back into bad habits of supporting the licensed trade, British export industries and misplaced optimism around the England cricket team's potential in the World Cup.  In the last weeks, optimism has been stimulated by a robust, populist response to the French terrorist atrocities, and the emergence of a victorious anti-austerity narrative in the Greek elections.

Not much happening in Britain achieves much beyond raising a wry smile, except when yet another Kipper emerges as a racist, bigoted homophobe who has to be kicked out by Farage for articulating what most of his motley parade of sycophants wouldn't have either the courage or the intellect to string together.  Despite the building-up of the anti-immigration, self-serving agenda by the right, there is an increasing disconnect between the potential electoral support and the volume and seriousness with which the idiots are feted.

Given that the electoral system cannot cope with pluralism, the outcome of the election itself will be fascinating from a psephological perspective.  A multi-party contest, with differing strengths and weaknesses across the country, will be very difficult for the media to spin - and the local dimension is already being played down in the narratives around tax and spending and the NHS, which both the party spin-doctors and the media have decided are sufficient to pacify their audiences without having any difficulty around the legitimacy of government and the state machine.

A genuine election would be focusing on why one of the world's richest economies has failed to recover as fast as it should have done, and why the current Conservative Party approach is to strip down public spending to the level where there will be no option for the vast majority of people but to pay for services such as health and education that should be universal in a modern, affluent society.  The squirming of the rich over the idea that property and land should be properly and fairly taxed is both risible and asking for an insurgency that makes it clear that increasing inequality and the accretion of unearned capital is no longer the basis upon which government by consent can rest.

Add to this the democratic deficit - where apathy is encouraged as the march of privatising and outsourcing public services means that even elected politicians can have no direction over them, and the national and regional disparities, and a reasonable observer might consider that the debate would be vigorous and ongoing.   Despite the efforts of the SNP, the Greens and the remaining independently-minded Liberals the real concern is what the Scottish results could do to the prospects of a stable UK government, rather than asking what are the driving forces that could propel the SNP to historically-high support levels and consequential elimination of much of the UK-wide party north of the Border.

This election will probably be both inconclusive and repeated well before the next scheduled poll in 2020.  A self-denying ordinance will apply until something genuinely interesting happens - until such time I shall be mainly addressing other areas than the election.  If Miliband or Clegg do anything remotely radical, or commit to such change, this may be enough to arouse a mild vituperative outburst from the depths of what may be a prolonged hibernation.

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