Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

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.

14 thoughts on “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

  1. I’ll tell you what I’m thinking; that Michael Howard is a vile, shrieking worm of a politician… 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.

    It’s very rare that I feel like giving a blog post a standing ovation, but dammit…

  2. I think it is a bit steep to say that you will be voting in the seat of “one of Britain’s least consequential MPs” when you come to that seat fresh from the good shepherding of Alastair Darling, ineffectual Transport Secretary and miserable apology for a constituency MP.

    Am I bitter the guy doesn’t answer his post? Do I sound bitter? Of course not. But really, what is the point of Alastair Darling?

    More seriously – there is no equation between spoiling and voting Green. I’m tempted to argue that neither is bad for democracy, but don’t see how voting Green could be, as at least it would be a positive affirmation of belief/ confidence/ whatever in a defined set of values (which is the drawback of spoiling, I suppose – nobody’s quite sure why you dunnit). Just wanted to clear that up.

  3. Well, that’s definitely brightened my day! Quality, quality ranting there; I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I’d probably vote for “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” as the best bit, though, even if I did give a little cheer to the “I absolutely fucking hate him” comment, too.

    I’ll be voting Lib Dem in my save Con seat, though – the ID card scheme still strikes me as far too much a gigantic waste of money to vote Labour.

    Just don’t get me started on the Greens. Having lived in Oxford, I’ve experienced their utter incompetence and offensively stupid bandwagon jumping first hand. Remember lads, it’s not about results, it’s about your intentions. Pollution through the roof in a gridlocked city is just fine, if it’s your “traffic calming” measures that caused it, apparently.

  4. Hate to quibble but I thought Howard’s dad was Romanian? Hope so otherwise Steve Bell’s wonderful ‘Are you drinking what I’m drinking’ cartoon doesn’t make sense.

  5. I’m a (generally) rational, calm human being, with a reputation for having a ridiculous amount of patience and remaining detached in moments of crisis. However, when Howard came crawling into the political limelight again, a year or so ago, I remember trying to explain, calmly to my friends the reasons why I found his audacity unbearable and his presence abhorent (c.f. political history of the UK 1970s-1997). Yet I failed, and was reduced to sitting in the pub (sober) shouting “Fuck off! Cunt!” over and over as loud as I could after two or three spirited attempts to be erudite.

    Therefore, I wholeheartedly agree with your “If Howard is trying to make this election… him.” assertion. Many congratulations.

  6. Not really a comment on this post (although: vote LibDem anyway!), but I found your excellent Election Map via, looked at your Audioscrobbler link on the left and realised that, by complete coincidence, your top of the Network on my Audioscrobbler page. Small world.

  7. Quality rant ! I think Paxo deserves a knighthood for the way he revealed the oleaginous depths of Howard’s deceit – it’s an image I can never get out of my mind whenever I see the slimy smug shit.

    As for voting – Labour – led by another slimy deceitful power-hungry shit. Lib Dem ? What are they for ? They know they can promise anything ‘cos they’re never going to have to deliver.

    Basically, I demand a “None of the Above” option on my ballot paper.

  8. “None of the above”; So, same as our Aussie friends system then? A brilliant idea, though potentially terrifying if we suddenly had 100% (sic) turnout of the UK’s conservatives, that is, the majority of the population, IMHO.

  9. “Lib Dem ? What are they for ? They know they can promise anything ‘cos they’re never going to have to deliver.”

    That’s pretty cynical given that they are the only party that doesn’t have a track record of breaking their promises. If nothing else, a stronger third party would surely be good for parliamentary debate, since PMQs is just a partisan slagging match atm. Whenever a minister is asked about their policy they inevitably end up criticising the opposition’s policy. It’s in both Labour and Conservative’s interests to write off the LibDem prosepcts. Don’t let them.

  10. As an American in the USA, that Tory ad campaign is new to me. It is so mean-spirited and slimy I’m quite surprised I haven’t seen something just like it over here.

    I’m sure it will be imported, though. Just like The Office.

  11. Is it just me who sees the “are you thinking what we’re thinking” phrase and has to supress the urge to reply with “I think so Brain, but if they called them Sad Meals, no-one would buy them.”

  12. I have two words for you, English dude who hates Dan Brown as much as I do – Lynton Crosby. Evil, conscience-less Australian who helped John Howard win two elections here on the basis of appealing to people’s inner racism. Looks like he’s up to the same tricks over there now, with anti-immigration sentiments etc. I can only hope the British public does not prove as utterly incapable of independent rational thought as the Australian public. I am filled with self-loathing at the thought that my country was suckered by this evil son of a bitch.

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