A nice long unfocused political rant for you. After all, this is the blogosphere!
It's election time here in the UK. In a week, about 60% of us will go to our nearest polling station and cast our votes, and if the script is to be followed the Other Lot will kick out This Lot and remain in power for about ten years before being kicked out themselves.
Only this time, we're told the usual script isn't quite as valid as it used to be. The Lot In The Middle might just be in with a chance at the Big Time after nine decades in the political wilderness, so this election may be the most important in my adult lifetime. Somehow I can't raise the enthusiasm required to welcome this.
So where did it go wrong? I'm passionately interested in politics, I've been a news fiend all my life, I've woken to the Today Programme since the 1970s, why am I and thousands like me so dispirited about it all just when it starts to look as if it might be about to get interesting? The truth is, for the first time there's nobody on the ballot I want to vote for.
Unlike seemingly the whole rest of the population I haven't blamed This Lot - Labour - for our economic woes. Sure I think they've been irresponsible and someone else might have done a better job, but the economic cycle being what it is I'm pretty certain any party would be facing the same underlying problems and no doubt having taken the credit in the good times would now be reaping the blame in the slump. No, I won't be voting Labour because they've crossed too many of my personal lines in the sand. ID cards, detention without charge, non-jury trials, security theatre, DNA databases, the police state, the Iraq war, even a crazy new set of wiring regulations that mean I as a fully qualified electronic engineer can't do my own house wiring, the list is endless. They have not left the country in a better state than when they got it.
What about the Other Lot - the Conservatives? With my background I should be a natural Conservative, an insider. When I was much younger my parents were Conservative voters, I grew up in the middle of the swathe of blue seats on the electoral map and the social group I moved in for most of my first twenty years would be unlikely to vote any other way. Maggie was in power, and from the English Home Counties you could have been forgiven for thinking life was good. Unfortunately though my disenchantment with the Conservatives came because I saw what they are like from the inside. At the grass roots, not in their airily positive manifesto or scripted TV soundbites. (No, not that kind of TV, though it might be entertaining!) I'm afraid the grass roots Tory, with very few exceptions, lives in the Stone Age. These are people to whom everything is self-evident and for whom the world only matters to people like them, and though they are not often unpleasant people as such, this unthinking attitude leads to some breathtaking intolerance. Quite simply, they can't be bothered to even try to understand someone who isn't exactly like them and they aren't afraid to let it show. The steady stream of foot-in-mouth incidents in which Tory candidates have exposed their homophobic views during this campaign are ample demonstration of this. And there's the problem. These grass roots select their kind of candidates, who in turn select their kind of leaders. If politicians are divided into people from "them" or people from "us", I'm afraid in picking David "Bullingdon Club" Cameron and his associates they've most definitely become the party of and for "them". Which is why I feel I can't vote for them. I don't think their Britain would be a better place to live for somebody like me, and I haven't even started on their fanatical support for fox hunting or my experiences with the bent-as-a-three-pound-coin Tory local council where I grew up.
After my previous two paragraphs, the Lot In The Middle - the Liberal Democrats - should be my natural home. And it's true, they tick a lot of my personal boxes. Iraq and ID cards, on those two alone they so nearly had me a year or so ago. Unfortunately for them though if they want my vote, I live in a Lib Dem held constituency. And I'm afraid my Lib Dem MP is not someone I like. Sure, he's got a knack of appearing in the right place at the right time for a photo opportunity, but having engaged with both MPs my experience of the Tory weigh-the-vote safe seat MP in the area I grew up in is more positive. Even then, that's not the clinching argument for my not voting Lib Dem. I won't be voting for my MP because unusually for an MP representing a city he's a rabid supporter of fox hunting. For him it's a libertarian issue. For me it's an issue born of growing up watching rich idiots come out from London to spend a day as hooligans riding all over other people's property breaking fences, scaring livestock, threatening people and causing mayhem. If you're born on one kind of estate, you get an ASBO, if you're born on another kind of estate, you go fox hunting. And for some reason my Lib Dem MP thinks it's a wonderful thing. Well screw him, he ain't getting my vote!
There are other parties on the ballot. UKIP might tempt me as a mild Eurosceptic, but they seem unable to control their more nutty right-wing tendencies. The Greens would woo me with the environment but are just too damn red on the inside. Besides, I've seen how Green councillors can comprehensively ruin a city. Beyond those two I'm in danger of descending into the nutters. Fortunately my constituency isn't high profile so the ballot seems mercifully free of them. Where are the Monster Raving Loony party when you need 'em?
I've just talked myself out of voting for anyone, haven't I. Which leaves me two choices: spoil my ballot or abstain, don't vote at all. Both of these feel like failure. I guess there's a third choice, tactical voting, but then of the choice above I'd have to hold my nose on ID cards and vote Labour. And having assured one of their candidates face-to-face that I'd be one of the people they'd eventually have to cart off to jail for not getting an ID card, I just can't bring myself to do that.
I guess it doesn't matter. Our first past the post electoral system means that because I don't live in one of a few key marginal constituencies, my vote is meaningless anyway. I think I'll spend next Thursday evening in the pub next door to the polling station instead.