Go away, Nigel.
Go away, Nigel.
It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these! Over the years it has become a bit of a tradition on Another Kind Of Mind that, whenever an election rolls round, I take great delight in poking, prodding and generally pulling apart the ‘Election Communication’ leaflets (read: abject propaganda) which the various parties stuff through your letterbox in a vain attempt to win your vote. Most people just chuck these leaflets into the recycling without even bothering to look at them – but I read and analyse (more like laugh at) these political communications so you don’t have to…
So far, I have been bombarded with half a tree’s worth of rubbish from the Labour Party, a rather shouty leaflet from the Tories which made me feel slightly ill, and some vaguely odd (and almost semi-literate) offerings from several tiny and relatively new political parties that I had, I must confess, not previously heard of. I have had nothing at all from the Liberal Democrats (big surprise!) or from the Greens (perhaps they are saving on paper to offset all the leaflets Labour have sent out?).
Of all these glaring omissions, I am most disappointed that I haven’t been favoured with any UKIP propaganda this time round (shame, I always enjoy being rude about them), especially since one of their local election candidates in the ward next door to mine produced some campaign leaflets which were so spectacularly weird that they got him deselected by the local branch of the party* – but despite this sad and sorry loss to my rant, we will carry on regardless with what I do have.
First up, and simply because they sent me so much crap, is Labour. Although they all promise rather desperately to “act to deal with David Cameron’s cost-of-living crisis”, these leaflets feature the usual digs at the Tories and UKIP (“Don’t be taken in by the other parties…”), and some of it manages to be both prescriptive and patronising at the same time too – which certainly puts me off (“This is what your ballot will look like. Put a cross in the box next to Labour” Um, thanks but no thanks, Ed).
One point in Labour’s favour is that they are the only party who have actually sent me information about their candidates for the local elections (everything else I’ve had from everyone else has been specifically about the European vote), but that doesn’t let them off the hook, I’m afraid. Sorry, Labour supporters, but I still don’t trust them – taking the word ‘New’ off the front of the party name and pretending your leader wasn’t actually in the Blair cabinet isn’t really enough for me…
I have to admit that I’ve not really been paying much attention to the London Mayoral campaign this time around, unless you count the concentration required every time I’ve had to run the gauntlet of various campaign volunteers, all determined to get in my way and stick a leaflet in my ear as I speed past their smug little stalls and dodge and weave down the High Street between them and all those omnipresent chuggers.
This time round, it’s more like a bad B-Movie sequel than an election. Or something. I can almost hear Voiceover Man declaiming the title like a wrestling match up: ‘Aaaaand now… the Heavyweight Champion of London, Boris ‘The Bruiser’ Johnson takes on the challenger, ‘Red’ Ken ‘The People’s Champion’ Livingstone in a hardcore battle to the political death…’ Well, we’ve had George Galloway pretending to be a cat (once seen can never be unseen, let’s put it that way), so why not Boris and Ken as wrestlers? In leotards, of course. That could suddenly make the Mayoral campaign a whole lot more amusing.
But there’s no getting away from it, this time round it really is the Ken and Boris Show: Part 2 (And This Time It’s Personal) – and there appears to be nothing any of the other candidates can really do to get most of the mainstream media to take the slightest bit of notice of their campaigns (short of taking all their clothes off and dancing naked through City Hall whilst singing the Birdy Song, perhaps? That might get them a few more column inches, although not necessarily in the Right Sort of newspapers).
A letter from the leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition! Aren’t I a lucky girl!?
Well no, not really, for it was yet more postal propaganda rubbish – although I’m not yet entirely sure whether it’s better or worse than receiving a (similar) letter from David Cameron, as I did during the general election campaign last year…
I don’t belong to any political party or trade union – I’m actually strictly politically non-partisan (in that I despise all the major – and most of the minor – political parties equally), but I have also long been fascinated by the various factions and their increasingly desperate attempts to drum up support over the last few years by swamping our letterboxes with junk mail propaganda.
In my case, I get crap personally addressed to me from all of them (via the electoral register?), but the Labour Party is especially guilty of sending me a deluge of junk mail – probably a side effect of a number of years of persistent letter writing to my old Labour MP (her team seems to have added me to an extra super-annoying mailshot database somewhere along the line – without my permission, I might add!).
So it’s nearly all over. This time tomorrow, the polling stations will be open and the nation will be casting its votes. But who to vote for? That’s been a difficult decision this time round. I can’t tell you who to vote for – nobody can. That has to be your decision alone.
However, if you’ve read any of my previous Election Propaganda posts, you’ll be aware that I have made a few suggestions as to who not to vote for. Don’t vote New Labour unless you want another five years of more of the same, don’t vote for any of the far right candidates for all the obvious reasons, and please, please, please, for the love of all that is good and right and true, DON’T VOTE TORY!
Who does that leave you with then?
Everyone’s talking about the Liberal Democrats as the main third choice. Personally, I’m a bit dubious about this. I can see that they would be a better choice than New Labour or the Conservatives, but only just. They seem a little tame for my liking, although this will obviously increase their appeal to disaffected voters from the other major parties who would be unlikely to support a more radical policy programme.
“THE ENGLISH DEMOCRATS: NOT LEFT, NOT RIGHT, JUST ENGLISH”
Hmmm. I guess I must be English. I was born in London, have a tendency to talk about the weather a lot, drink far too much tea, and whinge about the form of the England football team on a fairly regular basis. I’m sure you know lots of people like that. You may even be English yourself.
But there’s more to me than “just English”. No-one is “just” anything, not even the English – despite that famous understatement we’re supposed to have. I may be English by birth, but, like most English people, my ancestry is a bit more complicated than that (Welsh and German, if you’re that curious). That’s part of what being English is. We all have our own version of it. We’re a nation of immigrants, right back to our earliest days.
However, I don’t recognise the version of ‘English’ put forward by the English Democrats, whose slightly upper-case obsessed and shouty election literature is the latest to arrive on my doormat.
“time to put ENGLAND first!”
it announces, although it took me some time to figure that out as the leaflet is also covered in untidy (but just about properly punctuated) block capital marker pen scrawl:
They (whoever they are) say that a week is a long time in politics. And this last week or so has indeed been both long and eventful – as far as the general election campaign is concerned anyway. Thursday night saw the second of three televised leaders’ debates, this time on foreign policy issues. To this observer at least, the debate seemed to be more fiery and bad-tempered than that of the week before.
Voices were raised, impatient interruptions were made, very little of any actual substance was said, and there was much less agreeing with Nick this time – David Cameron publicly accused a sneery Gordon Brown of scaremongering and being an out-and-out liar, and they both laid into Nick Clegg in a seemingly pointless effort to flatten ‘Cleggmania’ before it can become truly politically dangerous.
It is interesting to see Brown and Cameron (as well as certain parts of the media) so obviously threatened by a man previously as politically anonymous as Nick Clegg. Both Labour and the Tories always knew that this was going to be a close-run election campaign, but the (perhaps not entirely unexpected) emergence of the Liberal Democrats has got them rattled now – the fact that the old two-party system is now being blown wide open can easily be read as further proof that the electorate is heartily sick and tired of the current, broken political system.
So it’s May 6th then. Now there’s a surprise.
In exactly a month’s time, the polling booths will be open and the British people will be casting their vote for a new/old government, but, finally, today Her Madge gave her consent to Gordon Brown dissolving Parliament – which means the election campaign really, actually, finally, officially starts now (despite the fact that some candidates have been at it for months already).
And what an exciting morning it’s been for all us armchair election followers!
I’m not entirely sure what was most (least?) thrilling about this morning’s frankly mindless media coverage. Forced by Freeview to choose between Sky or the BBC, the telly ended up being muted when my brain started dripping out of my ears. I did catch Gordon Brown’s thoroughly tedious speech – although I was slightly distracted by the phrase ‘as dull as ditchwater’ bouncing round what little brain I had left by this point.
Other media lowlights included David Cameron’s unpleasantly smug speech to the rapt party faithful, complete with its mysterious (hmm) omission of the same two words (“gay” and “straight”) which were so heavily emphasised in the draft version revealed yesterday.
With the election now widely assumed to be on May 6th, the campaign for Britain’s hearts and minds has really begun in earnest, although said campaign doesn’t seem to be working very well – that’ll be on all sides, but particularly on that of the current New Labour government – even before Tony Blair weighed in with his dubious backing of Brown.
For example, the recent budget (which may not even ever be fully implemented at this rate) can only be described as a prime example of New Labour desperation and a rather pathetic attempt at saving the government’s electoral skin. In fact, this governmental desperation is already at such levels that this year’s Guardian April Fool on Labour’s alleged new hard-man-vote-Labour-or-else election strategy actually came very close to being convincing. Scary.
And it’s only going to get worse. I had already received my first batch of election propaganda back in late February, and now, in early April, even more of this rubbish has started coming through my letter box at a steady rate – and the quality of it has got so bad that it would actually be hilarious if this election wasn’t so damn important.
Just like last time, the Tory propaganda was the first to arrive, complete with exactly the same set of slightly sinister photos of that identikit Tory blonde candidate we saw before. However, instead of their previous desperate attempts at politely begging the reader to vote Conservative, this time their desperation just seeps through the paper:
You can tell it’s almost full-blown election season again.
For months, the newspapers have been full of the usual pre-election political squabbling over policy matters (and, this time round, there’s the added bonus of accusations of Prime Ministerial bullying) and the trashing of what little is left of any given opposing Honourable Person’s reputation, all undertaken in the desperate hope of just edging past one’s opponents in the polls.
Unsurprisingly, the inevitable satire campaign has been up and running for quite a while too, giving those of us of a more politically cynical persuasion some well-deserved amusement, particularly at the expense of the Tories and the incompetence of their election propaganda goons.
But then, yesterday, when the postman arrived, I finally knew that the campaign was officially beginning in earnest: the first set of election-related political literature dropped onto my doormat with the morning post.
Here we go again, I thought, and immediately reached for my laptop…
For a change, it is the Tories who have been quickest off the mark, producing a shiny, brightly-coloured, determinedly upbeat fold-out leaflet and an attempt at a fiercely self-important local newsletter; both featuring multiple images of an equally shiny, brightly-coloured and determinedly upbeat-looking thirtysomething identikit Tory blonde who insists she is “working hard” and “fighting” for “a change for the better” in the local area. Or something.