Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Sunday, May 02, 2010

I Shall Vote Labour

As for the vexed question of whether people vote for the personality of the leader or the policies of the party, I would have thought that NuLabour's victory over the Conservatives in 1997 clearly showed that policies were the driving force. Labour had some great policies (let's forget that Blair ditched as many as he could immediately he got elected, in favour of "eye-catching initiatives with which I can be personally associated") while the Tories' were tired retreads. On the other hand, John Major was surely the most genuinely decent person to be Prime Minister in my lifetime, and if it came to personalities he would have seen off far more serious opposition than Tony the Slime, the man whose only principle was "I want to get rich and famous". (And who, once he was as rich as he could get off the back of the electorate, instantly abandoned his faithful constituents so he could maximise his earnings while minimising his exposure to auditors.)

In any case, in practice an awful lot of people quite reasonably vote neither for a party leader nor for a party programme but for a hard-working constituency MP (the kind Blair never was). Though I loathe Blair (come on, you guessed, right?) I voted Labour in the last general election because following the rearrangement of our constituency boundary we had a really good sitting MP (Nigel Griffiths) who worked his ass off as well as having principles. Previously we'd been in a different constituency with an MP who was not only an utter Blairite, but personally deeply unpleasant when passed over for a senior job she was clearly unfit for, and lazy to boot. Nothing there to vote Labour for, and I didn't.

Even though Nigel Griffiths is retiring and I don't know what his replacement is like (he's new, so nobody does) , I shall vote Labour this week. Mostly in order to maximise the chance of keeping a Tory out, but also because while there are plenty of criticisms that can be levelled at Gordon Brown and his government, the ones being deployed seem to me to be the wrong ones. Brown came to power entirely legitimately, and from day one of his tenure as PM has had to fight not only the Conservatives and LibDems but an array of Blairite bad losers who would rather see a Tory government than have Brown succeed as PM. The fact is, of course, that Blair was always a Tory at heart so there was little duplicity involved in his supporters switching sides. Then again, GB has been pilloried for his untelegenic appearance and lack of smooth talking. Well, I didn't dislike Blair for his sunbed tan: heck, I used to vote for the SSP when Tommy Sheridan was at the helm, and he was a walking tanning salon ad. As for smoothness, Blair was all smoothness and carried no conviction whatsoever: you assumed that whatever he said was a lie because of the advertisers' gloss he put on it. (Of course, almost invariably it was a lie so that wasn't really a problem.) I really don't care what Brown looks like, or how he comes over in soundbites: since the relentless Blair-inspired trivialisation of politics on TV, culminating in this year's stupid US-style debates, I try to watch as little political TV as possible. If it comes to policies, on everything except the economy I think the LibDems have got it right, though I must say they lost my respect when their Scottish contingent started talking about "keeping an independent Bank Of Scotland", completely failing to spot that it was swallowed up by the very Yorkshire Halifax Building Society around six years ago. (I know: it was one of my programs which delivered the coup de grace for most of the BoS current accounts). They have as much chance of locating the Bank of Scotland as I have of finding the "District Bank" where I had my first account (now part of RBS in fact, though I doubt even their staff could readily separate any of it).

But Labour, despite the damage wrought on the party by Blair, much of which may be irreversible, at least purports to be the party of the poor, of the working class, of the marginalised. Sure, they screw that up, but nobody else even pretends to take an interest. It's easy to blame Gordon Brown for the present financial crisis, but its roots lie in the deregulation of financial markets under Thatcher, and anyone who believes that Tony Blair, the Thatcherites' Thatcherite, would have arranged things any other way are deluding themselves. Brown has probably pursued Blair's "war on terror" (aka "erosion of freedom") agenda more enthusiastically than one would have wished, but he inherited the climate of paranoia which Murdoch and the rest of the right-wing the press encourage to this day, so he really couldn't win however he played it. With Cameron committed to repeal of the Human Rights Act he is scarcely the great white hope for individual freedom. So Labour it is.

And yes, I do remember this poem from 1966 by Christopher Logue. There is still some truth to it. But still.........

I Shall Vote Labour

I shall vote labour because God votes labour
I shall vote labour to protect the sacred institution of the family
I shall vote labour because I am a dog
I shall vote labour because Labour tolerates the traitor Ian Smith
I shall vote labour because I am on a diet
I shall vote labour because Ringo votes labour
I shall vote labour because upper class hoorays annoy me in expensive restaurants
I shall vote labour because if I don’t somebody else will

I shall vote labour because if one person does it everybody else will be wanting to do it.
I shall vote labour because my husband looks like Antony Wedgwood Benn
I shall vote labour because I am obedient
I shall vote labour because if I do not vote labour my balls will drop off.
I shall vote labour because there are too few cars on the road
I shall vote labour because Mrs Wilson promised me five pounds if I did
I shall vote labour because I love Look at Life films
I shall vote labour because I am a hopeless drug addict
I shall vote labour because I am a Wincarnis shareholder
I shall vote labour because I failed to be a dollar millionaire aged three
I shall vote labour because labour will build more maximum security prisons
I shall vote labour because I want to see Nureyev and Fonteyne dance in Swansea Civic Centre
I shall vote labour because I want to shop in a covered precinct stretching from Yeovil to
Glasgow
I shall vote labour because I want to rape an air hostess
I shall vote labour because I am a hairdresser
I shall vote labour because the Queen’s stamp collection is the best in the world
I shall vote labour because deep in my heart
I am a conservative

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