The election campaign is a feeble, meandering, tedious trundle through long-tired tropes, safe soundbites and personal attacks. It isn’t working, at least for the government, since they have the advantage of being in government and being able to show off their proud record of success – as well as blame any failures on the MESS THEY INHERITED when Labour caused the entire world capitalist system to come to its knees in 2008 by keeping Sure Start centres open.
But no. You have to pinch yourself. Is this really the Tory machine? Is this really the best they’ve got? It gets worse, and worse, and worse. And just when you think it’s as bad as it could possibly be, Boris Johnson, the partially inflated corpse of a 1950s Beano cartoon character, hisses and bubbles on television – SOMETHING ABOUT CLASSICAL STUDIES, TO SOUND BRIGHTER THAN I REALLY AM, MUMBLE MUMBLE – giving you a chilling view of the future.
It’s a shambles. It’s inept. It’s a waste of talent, if there is any, and there must be some if you look carefully enough in the wreckage, but you wouldn’t know that, given what you can see and hear. I think there are many reasons for this, and a combination of factors that come together to make this nonsense of a campaign possible, but chief among them is the idea that keeps coming back, and back, and back – that Tories are entitled, arrogant bastards.
Only entitled, arrogant bastards would have thought that they wouldn’t need to put anything of substance together, apart from wishing a couple of tax cuts into effect that will only affect millionaires, but no-one’s going to check the detail, because they’re scum, and we can rely on the scum to vote for us, whatever we do. Only entitled, arrogant bastards would have thought the meek, milksoppish Miliband had somehow tripped and fallen to defeat his slicker, more polished brother, and that it would be a piece of cake to dispose of him with the red-faced Cameron. Only entitled, arrogant bastards would have the backing of the vast majority of Her Majesty’s Press, and waste it with a series of pathetic photoshops, letters from Conservative Party supporters saying they’d quite like to vote Conservative, actually, and spineless personal attacks on the opposition, always carefully distanced enough from the Prime Minister to make him look blameless – and gutless. Only entitled, arrogant bastards could have imagined that this time the Labour leader would make a mistake like saying a bigoted woman was a bigoted woman, thereby exposing him as the REAL bigot, eh kids?
Entitled, arrogant bastards. But not just that. Clumsy. Foolish. Amateurish. Weak. CHAOS OR COMPETENCE, YOU MUST CHOOSE. CHOOSE NOW. CHAOS. CHAOS. CHAOS. IT WILL BE CHAOS IF WE LOSE. IT WILL BE CHAOS. COALITIONS ARE CHAOS, APART FROM THIS ONE OBVIOUSLY, WHICH IS ALL RIGHT, EXCEPT FOR THOSE YELLOW IMBECILES.
And yet. I have a queasy feeling. A queasy, nervous feeling.
I remember Kinnock – God, how ridiculously left-wing he looks now – tumbling headfirst into danger. Not arse over tit on that beach in Brighton, nor at that Sheffield rally where he shouted a bit and there were some flags. No, just heading into the oblivion, day by day, getting further and further away, while it seemed to be closer.
Last time out, the friends of the Tories in the press said it was a clear choice between fear and hope – David Cameron, by the way, represented hope, if you can imagine that. Now it’s reversed. Hope is the other fella, and fear is all they’ve got. Fear Labour. Fear the SNP. Fear everyone. Fear it all. Be afraid, be very afraid.
But I am afraid. I keep having a nightmare vision, and it goes like this: a resounding victory for Cameron in 10 days’ time, and his beaming, jolly puce face as he rides up the Mall to see the Queen for tea and sandwiches and smalltalk. Even though he wins, he knows he’s doomed, so he puts in place a succession plan for Jovial Johnson to take over. Bowled over by the hilarity of a man with slightly silly hair and a suit that doesn’t fit being a politician, a grateful public cheers him along into the most brutal sell-off yet: schools, more hospitals, everything must go. UK PLC, up for sale again. Food banks are still happening and people are being sanctioned to death, but look, he’s quite funny on television and everyone feels slightly better about themselves.
Yes, Labour are terrible. Yes, Labour started it all. Yes, Tony Blair. And all of that. And no, Miliband isn’t the great saviour of anyone, or anything. But there has to be something better, a least worst option, a way of getting out of this that doesn’t mean more of exactly the same. Mustn’t there? Come back to me in five years’ time when Labour have enacted another great raft of cuts, I suppose, and left everything as bad as it is now, just with slightly more handwringing.
Amateurish, all of them. And so are we. We don’t know what we’re doing or what we’re voting for; we just slap an X in the box and hope that, somehow, it might count where we live, and even if it doesn’t, that other votes elsewhere might make a difference. After all that, all there is, is fear or hope. Or maybe a lot of both. Right now, I have a lot of both.