Tuesday, 20 April 2010


Relax, the initials I refer to are that which currently dominate our airwaves, screens and thoughts - Prime Minister Seduction. Well, it's about 50/50 Election and Volcanogate at the moment, but I am belatedly feeling a surge of democratic power after catching up with the weekend's media commentary on the campaigns, and watching the groundbreaking ITV party leaders' debates online. It's a thrilling thing be able to vote, and while the last election seemingly passed by without me noticing it, this year the public really seem to be getting involved.

The 18-20s particularly strike me as more vocal than I was in their position; perhaps it's the new surge of enthusiasm for the Lib Dems which appeal to them, or just the shaken-up feel of British politics that has seemed so stale and inevitable for years. Post-Expenses scandal, MPs are more apologetic and desperate for our support than ever. A lot of the high-faluting crap has been cut out as they begin to realise how jaded and savvy the public are about the spin and gloss of their campaigns. In my very first post on this blog, I wrote about the reactions to the Obama/McCain election and expressed a sadness that British politics are so much less passionate and patriotic. I just don't think it's our style though; as a nation we're unmoved by a soundbite and unconvinced that any party will bring large-scale change (quite rightly, really). Now I am impressed that things seem to be moving forward and becoming more focused here, with campaigns edging towards more info and less PR. I've grown to like the grey area in our system - I am not loyally 'Republican' or 'Democrat' but instead entitled to see what's on the menu and order as I see fit.

The TV debates have been the epicentre of this new approach - party leaders abandoned monotone voices, lengthy policy description and generalizations in favour of dramatic pauses and angry accusations, short'n'sharp outlining of aims and bizarrely specific anecdotes. I particularly enjoyed David Cameron's description of meeting a 40 year old black man who had moved to the UK aged six and served in the navy for 30 years. In fairness, neither of his rivals jumped to correct him after a spot of mental maths I imagine a six year old immigrant could do themselves. I did like the ferocity of approach, though - points had to be made quickly, sincerely and on the spot.

General consensus is that Nick 'Who?' Clegg came out on top after months of obscurity, but I wasn't that much more impressed with him. He had the best tone, body language and used the most accessible vocabulary, but I just wasn't feeling that musty yellow tie on him. Just joking - I felt he stumbled more than the other two over his answers, cleanly avoided the negatives surrounding tackling the econonmy, and kept reverting to the Lib Dem appeal as an alternative to 'Old Politics' (Did you know the Lib Dem party, founded in 1849, has been around 40 years longer than Labour?) A fresh face, yes, and definitely the one I'd shag if I had to choose, but he hasn't got my vote yet.

Poor old Gordy is the opposite of 'fresh face'; dowdy, practical and worn down, but I would always trust a leader (headmaster, boss, bank manager) who looks like the face of experience rather than the face of Creme de la Mer. In the blue corner, Cameron is almost oddly collagen smooth, with a sneery manner and just a hint of sleaze behind the good suit and family man image. If you're pro gay rights and equality, do make sure you watch the footage of his interview with Pink News, where he not only faltered over his policies and values but had the unmistakable glint of panic in his eye as his 'New Conservative' diversity-friendly image collided with the long-standing values of his party. I would also take a glance at the Don't Judge My Family campaign, countering the Tory plans to give straight, married couples a tax break. I have known married couples stay together far longer than they should, causing knock-on problems down the line with a sustained, unhappy family atmosphere. Equally, marriages can break up as a result of one person rather than both - should the abandoned party be left to pay more tax because they couldn't or wouldn't beg their partner to stay and make it work? Judging citizens based on their marital status is laughably backward - 'smug, Victorian finger-wagging', as Harriet Harman so eloquently put it. So the Tories are not scoring highly in my books, especially with Chris Grayling's (my local MP, oh the shame) recent comments on B&B guests.

I still haven't 100% decided where my vote is going, but I do feel sorry for the flack Labour gets. Whoever is in power will cause dissatisfaction and attract mockery after thirteen years at the helm, especially in the wake of recession depression and a (non party-specific) expenses scandal. In the TV debates, for me, Gordon made the shortest, neatest points, seemed the most honest - including addressing the tough stuff - and seemed to have his policies most firmly in his head, and not in his notes. That said, he also made cringey jokes and got suckered into Cameron's playground bickering. I liked that he picked up on Cameron's constant quest to avoid giving any kind of answer ('This isn't question time, David, this is answer time.') Dave just seems to think he can respond with 'Yes, I agree *carefully registered name*, we're in a real mess. But look at what Labour have done about it - NOTHING. I'm not going to promise we're going to do any better but... Look! Look at them! Gordon can't even smile properly!' The day I see him respond with something resembling a plan of action will be the day I consider him as a possible leader.

I'm interested in the Lib Dem's ideas, but need to hear more than 'We're different.' This isn't Lidl trying to compete with Sainsbury's and Tesco, if you're a real contender come out with your policies up. Equally I need to read more into Labour's plans and track record, but I will certainly be stepping out to vote come May 6th. I think the Lib Dems will get much of the youth vote, if only because they're not such a broken record. Anything that gets my generation voting is fine by me, but make sure you get all your info before heading in to that polling station. I would love to hear if anyone's developed any new political leanings this year, and why. Particularly any new young Tories, oxymoronic as that may seem to me.

The world's unsexiest boyband [Brown's just a step behind on the choreography]


  1. Love this entry - this is the first time I've been able to vote and really got involved with politics and I'm still undecided too. I know I'm definitely not playing Tory, their flimsy denial of homophobia within the party worries me and David Cameron himself creeps me out. I'm going to look more into the other two parties, although it does seem more of a situation of voting for the least worst, rather than the best!

  2. I'll be voting Conservative for a variety of reasons. Labour practically rule themselves out through the very policies that they represent. They are supposedly a leftist party, founded upon the concept of aiding the masses through large public spending basically, which is an impossible position to be in currently, with a record deficit and debts as a % of GDP rivalling that of Greece meaning that public spending must be reined in. This admittedly hits the poorest the hardest, and it is these people that Labour rely on, so they are stuck between a rock and a hard place really. Similarly, the Lib Dems cannot win a majority on their own, and therefore a large vote for them would result in a hung parliament, which, history has taught us, results in nobody winning. Any coalition government would be paralysed, capable only of compromised Bills which are hamstrung by concessions granted to individual MPs in an attempt to gain enough votes to pass it. This leaves the Tories, who, in an attempt to win votes, have moved away from the "small government, low taxes" conservative ideas upon which they were founded, but which are exactly what this country needs to fix its economy, unpopular though they are.

  3. Ok Lets See - I will give the points from an Education point of view folks

    Conservative - Parent power, special measures takeover my academies, HT pay good teachers more, more uni places, leep ks2 tests,

    Lib dems - replace academies with sponsor schools, 2.5bn for teachinf poorer pupils, scale back ks2 testing, Scrap the target of 50% of young people attending university; scrap university tuition fees over six years; guarantee Special Educational Needs (SEN) assessments for all 5-year-olds.

    Labour - Increase "frontline" spending on Sure Start, childcare, schools and 16-19 learning, continue acadmies and BSF, 1:1 tuition programme for eng and maths for 1-14 yer olds, report cards, parent power.

    So whats this all mean...education is a very emotive area. I think over the last ten years or so Labour have turned around education from the disater that was the thatcher years. If you read this I hope it helps you select the right party. We are in a state of flux really we need the investment in the trad labour areas but also tighter financial elements which may favour tories. We have to balance these out....a difficult one. Good luck BUT do vote.

  4. Personally if I had to shag one it would be David Cameron ;o)
    I agree, it's all alot more interesting this time. I am actually worrying about who I will vote for, i'm rather concerned at how much thought I am putting into it to be honest!