I’ll tell you what I’m thinking; that Michael Howard is a vile, shrieking worm of a politician. I caught most of today’s PMQs while queuing in the bank at lunch, on BBC News 24. Even though the volume was off and I could only read the Ceefax subtitles, I could still hear his snivelling, creepy voice pour out half-truth after half-truth. The most galling, hypocritical crap came out, again and again. “Crime UP, immigration UP, Waiting Times UP”, he shrieked, the son of a
Hungarian Romanian immigrant neatly lumping immigrants of any kind together with criminals. In a desperate attempt to attack Blair and Brown over the economy, he bemoaned the country’s sluggish manufacturing growth – this coming from a man whose party, when in government, sought to tear the head off the manufacturing sector and shit down its neck.
When you can’t hear Howard mouthing his hideous trap off in the Commons, you can sense him via the creepy Are you thinking what we’re thinking? campaign all over the streets, insinuating suspicion and fear into everything. The questions are all phrased in a sinister yet slightly moronic fashion: I mean, how hard it is to keep a hospital clean? – you can almost hear him saying it, can’t you? Well it’s much harder than privatising the hospital cleaning services in the 1980s, like your lot did, Michael. Why don’t you get hold of a mop and try working for a week in a hospital on minimum wage and no training for a company striving to cut as many corners as possible, then get back to us? Here’s another ad – How would you feel if a bloke on early release attacked your daughter? I don’t know Michael, but at least I’m not the person who secured a pardon for a drug-dealing gangster 11 months into an 18-year sentence, who coincidentally happens to be an associate of your cousin’s (but that had absolutely nothing to do with it whatsoever, libel fans).
If Howard is trying to make this election about the politics of hate, then he’s certainly succeeding, because now I absolutely fucking hate him. Howard has succeeded in making me consider doing something I thought I’d never I’d do again: voting for Blair. Not just voting for Labour, but actually voting for Blair, the man himself, and backing him as Prime Minister. Blair may be a shifty Thatcherite with a more than slight aversion to the truth, but anything is better than that lying, hatemongering demagogue. If there’s one thing Michael Howard has done for the Tory party, it’s reminded what a hateful bunch of arseholes the Tory Party is, and how much better off this country is without it in power.
Whew. Now I’ve got that out of my system, a slightly more sober reflection on the election. The election brings with it the usual dilemma from anyone on the left who disagrees the direction of the Labour government under Blair. Labour’s record is patchy, on the upside we’ve had a stable economy, more investment in hospitals & schools, the minimum wage etc., on the downside we’ve had Iraq, the abolition of various civil liberties and the creeping Thatcherisation of the welfare state with foundation hospitals, and the farce of the postal vote. Do I vote for Labour and Blair again, or do I try looking round for an alternative? Not that we have much, but the Lib Dems are the least worst of the other viable parties.
I would spend the next month agonising over whether to pick Labour again or not, except that for me the dilemma doesn’t really apply, since I will be voting in a seat occupied by one of Britain’s least consequential MPs. While I currently live in Edinbugh Central, seat of none other than Alistair Darling, come May 5th I will be shifted into the new constituency of Edinburgh East, which is pretty similar to the old Edinburgh East & Musselburgh constituency, and is rock-solid Labour. The incumbent, Gavin Strang, is quite harmless by the looks of things, having only managed a year as Transport Minister before being relegated to backbench limbo. He’s neither a member of the awkward squad nor a loyal Blairite. It’s not likely he’ll be voted out and it wouldn’t be much of a bloody nose to Blair if he was.
So even if I did vote tactically for the Lib Dems (and get over the inevitable self-loathing afterward), it wouldn’t do much good. I can happily spoil or vote Green and not have to worry about the consequences. While this is bad for democracy, it’s quite good for you, as I can devote what little spare time I have to blogging cynically about the election, whilst doing other things like updating the election map applet, instead of continually agonising over who to vote for.