I haven’t posted here for a while, because… Well, I couldn’t be bollocks-ed to, really. Much too busy trying to stave off a nervous breakdown that part of me actually wants to happen anyway. A nervous breakdown that’ll probably be precipated by: being hounded by various people for money, whilst I’ve got fuck all coming in myself, because; there’s still no sign of a job – only a brick wall of impolite cunts who don’t reply to my applications at all, plus the occasional, unhelpfully generic ‘there were more suitable applicants…’, and; realising that the 27 years of life I’ve somehow managed to stumble through so far have all been for naught, because I have naff all to show for any of it – no worthwhile employment, no money, no assets, noone to share my vast expanse of nothingness with and, worst of all, no visible prospect of getting any of these things. All of which makes maintaining a blog seem to be yet another pointless exercise in an increasingly meaningless and arbitary world.
Firstly, let me apologise for writing this – and, specifically, the naff post title – whilst [partially] drunk. A copious stream of bollocks may follow.
Writing for The Blue Blog, Serene John-Richards questions whether young voters are as apathetic as we’re often told they are. It’s a question I’ve asked myself and, like Serene, I believe the answer to be clearly ‘No’.
As Serene notes, young people demonstrably do have an interest in political issues, but are often left marginalised when they try to make their voice heard. Whilst their voice outside of Parliament is often ignored, they don’t have much of one inside either. Only three MPs under the age of thirty were elected at the last general election. Maybe this is part of the reason why general voter disinterest is particularly pronounced among young voters – perhaps they feel alienated by politics, because they can’t see their own interests and concerns being represented within Parliament. All parties need to do more to nurture their young talent. Not just because it’s in the parties’ interests to protect their futures, nor simply because it would help to engage young voters, but because Parliament would be better able to serve the community it represents if its composition more accurately reflects that community.
Confidence in our elected representatives is currently so low that it’s threatening to fall through not just the floor, but the gallows trapdoor. The expenses scandal has become a focal point for the public’s wider dissatisfaction with our politicians, and their anger over being ignored and treated with mounting contempt. The electorate’s cynicism is no surpise, given they’ve seen Governments blight the very hopes they raised to win power. Likewise, it’s little wonder voters feel disenfranchised when they’re used to seeing politicians arguing fractiously, rather than working together for the common public good. In her own post, Serene says that young people are cynical towards polital parties, and these are, I think, just a few more reasons why. But these will also hold true for for the disillusioned electorate as a whole. Another thing which, I think, may help to explain why perceived apathy is most prevalent among young voters is this: whilst the youngest voters may never have been able to perceive any real difference between the main political parties, their parents can still remember when there were was a manifest choice, and lived through events which burned the parties’ ideological differences onto their memories forever. Simply put, older voters may be more reluctant to give up their vote, because their past experience makes them worry about the possible consequences if they do.
It’s clear to me that, if we deal with the problems that have turned off the electorate in general, we’ll automatically have covered most of the ground we need to with the more specific problem of young voters’ apathy. Dealing with issues such as MPs’ corruption and unaccountability will be worth much, much more than any patronising proposal to let people vote by text (something which, I’m sure, isn’t anywhere near as easy to implement as it may at first seem).
For years, politicans have bemoaned voter ‘apathy’. But this just seems to be accusing the electorate of having become lazy – a charge that can be more accurately levelled at the politicians themselves. By the same token, our politicians like to stress how greater participation leads to a stronger, more vibrant democracy. They’re right – but they’re also trying to shift the blame again because, no matter how many people vote for them, any democracy can only be as good as the people elected to uphold it. It’s high time our MPs took the time to reflect upon that.
Becoming Prime Minister may have been the fulfilment of a life’s ambition for Gordon Brown, but, for the rest of us, it has meant being lumbered with a weak, unelected leader. He has never faced the public in a general election, and was thoroughly destroyed in the recent local and European polls. He not only has no mandate from the people he would presume to lead, but has also lost his authority among his own Cabinet. The only thing that has so far saved him from being defenestrated by his own backbenchers is their spineless, self-serving concern for their own seats. Brown’s time in Number 10 hasn’t been merely borrowed, but stolen. And he knows it. But even this ill-gotten time is running out; so here is, courtesy of the Conservatives, a countdown to mark the march towards the date when Gordon Brown must call a general elecion, and suffer the consequences.
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Labour are crippled by an indecisiveness borne of an absense of moral fortitude. As the dying party drags itself inexorably toward euphanasia at the next general election – trailing a bloody slew of resinging ministers and humiliating polls – it seems incapable of shaking off Gordon Brown, the albatross who’s got his claws firmly gouged into their collective neck. Having been destroyed in the recent local and European elections (pushed into third place and taking record low vote shares in both; losing their last strongholds in the locals, and, in the Europeans, coming behind the Conservatives in Wales for the first time in nearly 100 years), Labour is staring into the abyss… and Gordon Brown stares implacably back.
Basking in the sycophantic praise of a specially selected audience of Labour activists yesterday, Brown almost managed to appear relaxed. Probably because, for once, his audience was telling him what he wanted to hear (‘You’re doing a great job, Gordon’, ‘We want you to stay on as Prime Minister’), as opposed to what he would normally hear, if only he ever bothered to listen (that he isn’t, and we don’t). As he tried to reaffirm why he still believes, against all the evidence, that he is uniquely placed to lead Britain out the very troubles he’s helped to heap upon us, he once again promised Parliamentary reform. Which begs the question as to how the electorate could possibly have any faith in any such proposals, when they know that the very reason Brown’s fractured party hasn’t already defenestrated him – i.e. his MPs’ fear of losing their own seats – exemplifies the cynical, self-serving culture that any Parliamentary reform needs to quell.
I’m thoroughly fed up of hearing Brown, with his hands over his ears, telling us what we want him to do, whilst the Labour party tells us what it wants. It’s about time both took the trouble to reflect upon what the electorate really want, and to call a general election.
Labour have been, as was widely predicted, annhilated in Thursday’s local elections. Not only do they not control any county council in England – not a single, solitary outpost of hope – but their projected share of the national vote, at just 23%, is a record low. Meanwhile, whilst the Conservatives didn’t quite attain the 40% share they might have hoped for, they’ve not only taken Labour’s remaining strongholds, but also seriously challenged the Liberal Democrats in theirs. On the matter of their respective shares of the national vote, it would be fair to point out that all three major parties will have had a few percentage points skimmed off the top and shared out across the minor parties and the independents, because of public anger over recent expenses scandals to have hit them all. Had that not have been the case, Labour may not have suffered their record low (not that it would have been much consolation to them), and the Conservatives may well have broken the 40% mark.
With the polls showing him to be an electoral liabilty, and a recent spate of ministerial resignations and rumbling dissent amongst his backbenchers calling his future (or lack thereof) into question, Gordon Brown really needed to reassert whatever’s left of his authority with a Cabinet reshuffle. So – has he?
The Cabinet hasn’t been so much reshuffled as been papered over to try and cover its deepening cracks. Many of the key positions remain held by the same people – not because Gordon Brown necessarily wants them to be there, but because they have simply refused be moved. If yesterday’s poll results reflect how Brown’s authority has been washed away amongst the country, then his reshuffle underlines just how diminished it is amongst those he wants to help him run it. And then there’s Peter Mandelson. Twice forced out of Cabinet for corruption, unelected, and now back at the heart of Government, effectively Brown’s Deputy in all but name. If this doesn’t highlight the absurdity of Brown’s claims to being the most credible person to reform Parliament and restore public trust in our democracy, then I simply do not know what would.
Admittedly, Brown’s position could have been even weaker today, were it not for Alan Johnson and David Milliband – the former widely seen as a likely contender for the job Brown has made a poisoned chalice, the latter having contemplated felling him mere months ago – showing their support. For now, the Cabinet may have rallied around their stricken PM, but are they just earning enough loyalty points to trade in for an even sharper set of kitchen knives later?
We’re leaving together,
But still its farewell
And maybe we’ll come back,
To earth, who can tell?
I guess there is no one to blame
We’re leaving ground
Will things ever be the same again?
Its the final countdown…
Labour looks set to face one of the worst defeats it has ever suffered in tomorrow’s European elections, and the prospect of losing control of all of the few councils it is defending in the same day’s local elections. With a wave of ministerial resignations (including Hazel Blears on the eve of the most vital polls before the next general election), Gordon Brown’s authority has been seriously undermined. His Government is imploding, and it’s dragging the Labour party into a meltdown that threatens to make it radioactive for years to come. And, though the expenses scandal has tainted all parties, Labour have suffered particularly badly – perhaps because, over the last decade or so, the Government has already accrued a particularly egregious record of scandal and corruption, and the public have long since tired of it.
In the run up to these elections, we have seen how Labour activists have been angrily turned away in Lancashire, normally a Labour stronghold. As portents go, this must be approaching the level of seriousness where, leading up to the last US election, a couple of self-confessed racists from the Deep South openly admitted that they would rather vote for Barack Obama than the Republican candidate, John McCain. When even your traditional base of core supporters turn their back on you, you know your prospects are looking bleak, to say the least. Except, Gordon Brown doesn’t seem to know it. Even in the face of growing calls for him to hold an immediate general election, his Government sliding into the political abyss, and the real possibility that the Conservatives could break into Labour’s traditional Northern heartlands, Gordon Brown still doggedly insits that he’ll stay the course until next year, when he must call a general election. Bizzarely, he still clings to the notion that he is the best man for the job of fixing Britain’s economy, and that he alone is most capable of cleaning up corruption and restoring public faith in Parliament. Can he not see that, having failed to adequately protect the economy during his decade as Chancellor of the Exchequer (where his stewardship saw cheap credit send personal debt soaring, and wealth and borrowing being tied up in assets whose value has since plummeted), that he is in no position to promote himself as our economic saviour? And is he equally oblivious to the fact that, being an unelected Prime Minister – not to mention one who thick-headedly refuses to call the general election that would allow the public to clear Parliament of corrupt MPs – that he simply has no credibility as a would-be Parliamentary reformer?
With panic spreading among his backbenchers, who fear that Brown’s ever decreasing popularity, and the body-blows Labour have taken over the expenses scandal, have combined to lose many of them their own jobs come the next general election (whenever that may be), how long can he actually last? Will a drubbing in tomorrow’s polls divert him from his kamikaze nosedive toward a general election next year, and will there be any lemmings left to follow him over the cliff ?
Here’s hoping that the European elections set the clock ticking on Gordon Brown’s final countdown.