The count-down has well and truly begun. Only five more days of this appalling election campaign to go. I am not going to say that we have reached rock-bottom in silliness, lack of ideas and media hype this time round. Whenever one assumes that rock bottom has been reached one finds another, completely new chasm before one’s feet. However, there is some hope that the actual results will be unusual enough for a political realignment of the kind this country has seen on numerous occasions in the past (and not just in the last thirty years) to begin. By this I do not mean that the Lib-Dims might overtake the Labour Party in votes and seats. They might but the difference between the two is not big enough for anything remotely resembling real political change, no matter what Nick Clegg and the various hacks have been saying.
The Boss on EURef has written about that final debate (no, I did not watch it) and the fact that next to nothing can be read from it or from the opinion polls that followed it. On average 8½ million people watched it but we do not know how many of them watched it from beginning to end or even long enough to make any kind of a decision. In any case, the majority of the electorate did not bother to watch this or the previous debates. So, what conclusion can we draw from that? None at all.
One thing has been clear, though. Those opinion polls have not moved all that much. The Conservative vote has remained reasonably steady at just under 40 per cent, give or take a few points. Unless there is a sudden rush of support for the Boy-King and his merry men and women, this is not enough to give them a majority though it will probably give them more seats and more votes than any other party.
Which leaves another consistent phenomenon: in every opinion poll there is a group of between 10 and 15 per cent who do not support any of the three parties. This may be an understatement, since most of these polls seem to concentrate on those three main parties, carefully not mentioning any other that people might say they will vote for.
A friend called my attention to an opinion poll published in the Economist (which has now, apparently, come out on the side of the Conservatives for reasons one cannot quite discern). This one did actually ask about the smaller parties and the results are quite interesting.
While Conservatives poll 33 per cent, Lib-Dims 30 and Labour 23, of the smaller parties, UKIP is at 5 per cent, BNP and Greens at 2 each, the nationalist parties at 2 and others at 3. If UKIP can take that up to 6 or 7 per cent (a big if), the Conservatives might find themselves in serious difficulties and the face of British politics might well change even more. Incidentally, one wonders, given these figures, why so much of the media persists in regarding the Greens as the fourth party in this election.
Of all the many things I have hated about this election campaign the emphasis on the leaders of parties has been among the worst. Not only that meant that we had far too much about three people, none of whom is particularly likeable or attractive; that one could bear, just about. What is particularly appalling is that it displays a complete ignorance of and disregard for the British constitutional structure on the part of the media and the politicians – those in the Westminster bubble, to be precise.
I have spent a great deal of time and energy trying to explain to numerous political illiterates who all fancied themselves as experts that there is no such thing as an elected or unelected Prime Minister in this country. We elect MPs and the party that has the largest number of them decides which one of them will be in the position to be sent for by the Queen and asked to form the government. Gordon Brown was most certainly elected to be an MP and his party most certainly was in the position to form the government, having one three handsome victories.
Since then matters have become worse. Not only has the Boy-King made fatuous and meaningless promises about “unelected prime ministers” but a good deal of the electoral campaign on various sides was conducted on the assumption that we have a presidential system.
Surely, someone said to me, you do not like Nick Clegg’s policies. They are not Nick Clegg’s I explained patiently (well, fairly patiently) but the Lib-Dims’ policies and, as it happens, some of the ideas about tax reform are quite sensible whereas the Conservatives have no sensible ideas at all on the subject.
Nor have I been terribly impressed by Conservative and some Lib-Dim candidates in Labour held seats campaigning against Gordon Brown rather than their immediate opponents. If you do not elect me, says my Conservative candidate, you will get another 5 years of Gordon Brown. Stuff and nonsense. The chances of the next government lasting five years are, at present, rather slim and, in any case, Labour might end up forming the government even if Shaun Bailey is an MP. And vice versa.
In one particular North London constituency, all three main parties (and even UKIP, oddly enough) have fielded women candidates. There is nothing special about the three – all party creatures in their late thirties or early forties, they even look similar. The constituency was won by Labour last time but only just. The Lib-Dim version of the Stepford politicos has a very high chance of getting in. At no time has the wretched woman mentioned her opponent who was the sitting MP until a couple of weeks ago; all her literature has nice pictures of her and ugly pictures of Gordon Brown. But she is not standing against Gordon Brown.
And so it goes. The hysteria around “bigot-gate” like earlier hysterias around “bully-gate” and “letter-gate”, all whipped up by Tory spin-meisters and all unsuccessful (well the first two were as they brought sympathy to one of the most unsympathetic politicians in this country’s history) has been a substitute for any reasonable political argument as one cannot call the nonsense these people come up with that.
Meanwhile, I am still chuckling over an exchange I had with a friend. He has explained that he no longer cares who wins, an attitude I fully agree with, but then added that he would like to see Nick Clegg in Number 10. Hmm, I replied, while I don’t mind if the Lib-Dims win (after all, they are all flakey when it comes to the EU), I would prefer someone like Vince Cable. But Helen, said the friend, you talk as if I was offering Nick Clegg a bed of roses. It will be a bed of nails for anyone who gets in there. Indeed, it will, which makes one wonder, what kind of an idiot wants to win this election and be faced with all the problems, some only half-understood, possibly with a minority government.