A Joyless, Soulless Election

Ballot paper

Perhaps it’s because I have been wet more times in this election than at any time since the first General Election of 1974 (which was in February) but I feel that this has been a pretty soulless, joyless election. Not the campaign in my own ward which I have really enjoyed despite the weather but the national campaigns which have concentrated so heavily on the negative and not the positive.
I don’t think any of the main Parties have really given us a clear view of the sort of society they would like – the sort of Britain that they are aiming towards over the next 20 years. Labour and Conservatives seem like a couple of pre Queensbury Rules prize fighters slugging it out to try and get the other down for the count. Day by day as it becomes increasingly apparent that neither will win outright their attacks on each other and claims of what they would do become more and more outlandish.
To be fair we do have some idea of what the fringe parties stand for. UKIP very clearly would us to return to a 1950s UK which never really existed. A sort of Janet and John meets Biggles and where Johnny Foreigner knew his place. What is absolutely clear from the very few of them I have found in Church Ward is that they are angry about change and want to take the country backwards. Ever single UKIP voter that I have met is white and over 65!
The Greens are equally clear about what they want. A subtle cross between La-La Land and Father Christmas’ Grotto. Apparently all we have to do is change human nature and the world will improve as well. There is a sort of money machine apparently which is rather like one of those chocolate fountains that you dip marshmallows. All you have to do is switch it on and gives you a lovely existence and somehow refills itself. Borrowings somehow disappear and we all learn to love recycling and no growth. Meanwhile in the real world…………!!
I came across some Labour people at the Church Ward hustings the other night and they too have little sense of reality. They forget that we are in the mess that we are because Labour refused to re-regulate the banks after the Tories de-regulated them. We continually get blamed for cuts yet they refuse to accept the fact that the last labour Government would, according to the medium-term review in their own last budget have taken out £8 for every £10 the coalition has removed. I get no impression either locally or nationally that they have a dream any more of a socialist Britain or anything else. Since the sad death of John Smith and his replacement by Tony Blair Labour have not really stood for anything much apart from being in power. For 13 years they were a right wing Government that took the UK into an illegal war which we still are getting aftershocks from.
The Tories are scared of the World almost as much as UKIP. They cannot accept that their posturing on Europe will damage jobs and that an ongoing refusal to positively engage with the EU, NATO and the UN means that our worth in the World is diminished not increased. We live in a world where individual countries cannot defend their borders by themselves. Whether it is immigration, defence, taxation or trade the world is massively mobile. Money is whisked away from Country to Country at the flick of a switch and the only way for the UK to survive as a nation is to accept a joint sovereignty on issues like these. They just come over as a bunch of Toffs seeking to protect their own.
As for my own Party it is difficult for me to judge. I know that every Lib Dem I have met and who campaigns for us now really believes those few brief words that we commit ourselves to a country where none are enslaved by ‘ignorance, poverty or conformity’. But it is hard to explain how that works in difficult financial times. I am very pleased with our ongoing commitment to education; to supporting people of all sexualities and to pensioners and the low paid. I am concerned that we have failed to get across the joining up of the dots between our principles and policies – I can see the joins but not feel them.
Perhaps though one canard will be destroyed for good and all by this election – the myth that first past the post’ gives stable Government. That was of course true when the two main Parties had 90% of the vote but it certainly is not true when they are slated to get about 70% of the vote. Of course in England there will still only be three Parties with reasonable numbers of seats on May 8. The Greens will have at most one MP and UKIP will have at most 3 but the way that people vote for them or vote against them will mean that many seats have become difficult to predict in a first past the post constituency based system.
A ‘Single Transferable Vote’ proportional system would have two effects:
Firstly, it would mean that everyone would be able to vote for what they believed in rather than having to decide which of the lesser of two evils (or more) they did not want to see elected; and
Secondly, it would mean that Parties would have to behave differently both inside and outside election periods. Every voter would be important at all times because every vote could count. In England the General Election is really only being fought in the 100+ of the 500+ constituencies with too many constituencies or parts of constituencies being considered as either our or enemy territory.
And just to show that things can happen at opportune times and cheer you up someone has just rung me out of the blue about 10 minutes ago and asked to join the Party and do some things in the final days of the campaign! When I asked him why he told me that it was because he really likes Erica (not me you notice) and thinks that our proposals on mental health are outstanding. AND it’s stopped raining so I had better go out on one more delivery for the day!

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About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. . Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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2 Responses to A Joyless, Soulless Election

  1. Gina Bennett says:

    I always support and vote for our local Liberal Councillor Mr. Richard Kemp. Hardworking and incredibly dedicated, we always see Richard canvassing and delivering his newsletter, all year round, not just at election times! He deserved his re election back as our Councillor! Well Done and Congratulations Richard and Thankyou for being all that a Councillor should be!

    • richardkemp says:

      Gina,

      Thank you by much for this. Your support is much appreciated. If you would like to have a chat about our work I would be pleased to come round for a chat!

      Richard

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