When I was a little boy (please note, in light of recent activities can I make it clear that I was NOT one of Two Little Boys…)… anyway, when I was 11 I first heard the song ‘I Wanna Be Elected’ – and it wasn’t just gender confusion that I suffered.
The whole ‘election’ business seemed to be a quite frequent event back then – and stayed that way for much of the 70’s – but I was a little confused as to what it all really meant. It was a gentle confusion because apart from an occasional Thursday off school, it didn’t seem to have any affect on me. There was always a little inter-family conflict, but there again, that wasn’t so unusual in any case. Other than really wanting to know why Alice Cooper was apparently a guy, nothing really fascinated me about elections.
By the tail end of the decade I was taking delight in playing to my stereotype and standing as the faux Labour candidate in a school ‘mock ‘ election, whilst happily utilising my new-found electoral power and ticking an altogether different box when the real thing rolled around.
Not that I was thinking long and hard about the potentials of a Thatcherite government, let alone imagining that it might last a decade. My vote was garnered more as a result of several years of ‘winters of discontent’ and getting candle-wax all over my history homework thanks, I firmly believed, to the Labour governments of Wilson and Callaghan.
You must forgive my naivety – I might have spent most of the decade attending a half-decent school, but politics were never high on anyone’s agenda there. I think one or two of the teachers were still card-carrying Whigs…
Oddly enough (you might think), General Elections always seem to have played a starring role in my life – and I’m not talking about the establishment of tax relief thresholds. After many grey years of post-Thatcher Conservative rule, the UK was becoming more established as a member of the European Union (a still relatively new term for the Common Market), but the economy was beginning to stagnate in a way that I had not witnessed before as a working adult.
Change was in the air, but it was my job and nothing to do with the political situation which saw me opting to work – and then move – abroad. And here’s the neat General Election link – I took citizenship of my new homeland (Luxembourg) officially on the 2nd May 1997 – which happens to be the same day that the credit crunch of a few years ago began. Or the day Blair started saying yes to everyone as Prime Minister.
The fact that he was still there when I returned to the UK to live rather spoils the ‘never in my lifetime will I live under his guidance’ routine, but at least I missed most of the situation. Of Gordon Brown I will say nothing except ‘ouch’.
Roll forward to the present day and we have all lived through a Conservative government (thankfully not a ‘new conservative’ one) where all we have witnessed is a valiant effort to undo the harm that befell us all before it occurred. If anyone deserves a positive vote now it must be Cameron’s mob on the grounds that they inherited total dross but have managed to help us avoid international bankruptcy, and even got a few more people in work.
Of late, though, we have seen the emergence of a new political entity – not the first in my adult lifetime, thanks to the Democrat party and its subsequent merger with the Liberals – in the dubious guise of the BNP-lite… sorry, I mean UKIP. The fact that they have apparently appealed to so many of the population – using a jingoistic, lowest common denominator approach – really is rather worrying. Even more than the thought of a yes-man occupying Downing Street.
I was going to publish a rather revealing video clip of the leader of said ‘independence’ party being interviewed on a non-UK-mainstream TV show late last year when his terminology was very revealing – but have been persuaded not to on the grounds of the party’s sudden apparent desire to sue nay-sayers. Which in itself should tell you a whole heap about them.
Anyway, come Thursday we will all (as in about two-thirds of us) troop off to the local polling station and make our private and hard-earned marks. This time next week, we might well have a new government – or at least, be seeing politicians of every hue frantically trying to befriend former sworn enemies. Who knows? Maybe we will all be being led by a temporary union of the Scottish Nationalist Party and the Monster Raving Loonies? Which are different entities, I have been told. And needed to be told.
All in all, we should be grateful that we live in a democracy – even if ‘first past the post’ is no longer such a marked differentiator of who we want to see at Number Ten – and it really is our duty to cast our vote. If you don’t exercise your hard-won right, then you will be ruled by what the rest of us decide – and don’t you dare ever complain, even if it’s the SNP and a bunch of Loonies. And by ‘Loony’ I mean members of the party formed by the late Screaming Lord Sutch, and not just politicians in general….. Honest.