Tag Archives: Nick Clegg

Well hung?

You would never have a ‘hung X-Factor’ or a ‘hung Britain’s Got Talent’, where Piers Morgan invites Stavros Flatley to form a coalition group with Susan Boyle. In fact, if there’s one thing that these shows are good at, it’s explaining, often ad nauseam, what’s happened, what’s happening and what’s going to happen in unnecessarily simplified detail. 

We could do with that in politics. But unfortunately it’s the polar opposite and it’s the reason that so few people are actually interested in it.

If you want to know the exact shade of vomit of Nick Clegg’s tie or the intricacies of Sarah Cameron’s tattoos then switch on the news or flick through a paper, but if you want any actual information about, say, the ramifications of a minority administration, or coalition government, then forget it. 

I don’t consider myself a moron, yet over the past few weeks I’ve come to feel that I’d have been better equipped and informed to vote in the Star Wars Galactic Republic than in the 2010 UK General Election. As I’ve said before, it’s impossible to get any real information or facts. We’ve already been made aware by the media that we will be financially shafted by whoever is elected, yet none of them will admit it. No wonder the average voter is so disaffected; I’ve only had the pleasure of voting a few times and I’m already considering a permanent move to North Korea. 

Politics in Britain (perhaps everywhere) holds little appeal to the average person because it is unclear in every vital area. We are all very aware of every politician’s latent ability to reel off an endless stream of baffling and often contradictory diatribe that we’re encouraged to believe is too complicated to be understood (even Brown has his own curious ‘stat-man’ version—reciting facts like a ticker-tape); frequently they bamboozle us with fabricated nomenclature that they never fully explain (Did you ever find out what ‘quantitative easing’ meant?); and they spend the rest of the time skirting round their flaws while sniping at their opponents. They drip feed us enough bullshit to keep us interested enough to trudge over to the polling station, without ever supplying us with enough actual information to know who or what to vote for when we get there. I expect it’s because if we did know we wouldn’t bother voting, but turn up at Whitehall en masse—a motley pack of rabid Dimblebys and Paxmans with pitchforks. 

Policies and politicians aside however, what has also become startlingly obvious in this particular election – and more interesting than the usual concoction of lies and spin – is the flawed way in which our electoral system operates. As the predictions for a hung parliament abounded I found myself asking questions . . . How on earth can a party win more votes but retain fewer seats? How can a party win fewer seats but remain in power? How can two parties that have both failed to win the majority coalesce to form a ruling government? Is any of this fair? Is it even democratic? 

It certainly doesn’t make any sense. 

If we’re to believe the news today then some of the political flotsam should coagulate to form a sort of government by the end of the weekend, and whatever else they choose to do, it is likely that they will reform the ‘first past the post’ electoral system to make way for a fairer, clearer structure, which should at least allow the voice of the people to be heard, even if we still have no idea what we’re voting for. 


“The difference between a democracy and a dictatorship is that in a democracy you vote first and take orders later; in a dictatorship you don’t have to waste your time voting.” Charles Bukowski

  

 

 

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Ash Clouds

Oh the volcanic ash cloud. What will holiday makers do? They’re stuck in Madrid. They can’t get a flight, they can’t get a boat. Oh, the horror of it—the horror!

Now some of those people have managed to get on coaches and now they’re all arriving at Calais. There are too many people at Calais. THERE ARE TOO MANY PEOPLE AT CALAIS! There will surely be crime. They’ll be mugged and robbed and buggered for all they’re worth. Oh, the treachery of that volcano! Oh, the misery for those poor people.

I’ve been stuck in an airport overnight in Menorca; I’ve slept in a train station in Malaysia; I’ve been marooned in places where no one can speak English with no feasible method of exit for a prolonged period of time; and I’ve taken a plethora of 15-25 hour coach journeys all over the world in vehicles you wouldn’t even deem roadworthy (sometimes while also suffering from diarrhoea); yet, even without someone bringing me blankets and cups of hot tea, I am alive and not horrendously scarred by these experiences, because, honestly, they weren’t all that bad.

But maybe I’m wrong. I am, after all, just one man with one opinion. Perhaps the reality of the grounded flights is truly dreadful. Let’s watch the BBC interview the people involved and listen to their tales of woe.

“Hello Sir, how are you bearing up?”

“Not too bad.”

“Hello there, how has your journey been so far?”

“Long, but pretty good to be honest.”

“How have you been treated by the embassy?”

“Very well.”

Right, so even the majority of the people experiencing this catastrophic humanitarian disaster first hand seem to be ‘bearing up well’ as one reporter put it. But still the media insist on portraying the ‘inconvenience’ as a challenge akin to Cook’s endeavour voyage.

Impossible to get the facts these days. Even at the source they try and warp it. And so this brings me, by a knight’s move, to the 2010 General Election.

Last night saw the three main parties tackle foreign affairs. I’ve recorded it with the vague idea of watching it at some point today, but already, having watched just a snippet of today’s television, I’ve had the whole thing summed up for me from multiple angles by multiple people. Not the party policies on foreign affairs though. I’m still no clearer on them. But I do know that last night’s debate was more evenly weighted than the first one, with none of the three men emerging as the clear victor, which apparently heightens the prospect of a ‘hung parliament’. Is that good? I can’t find a conclusive answer. This morning I read contradictory pieces in the Times and the Telegraph, one of which expounds the virtues of such a parliament and the other lambastes it as sure fire economic disaster for Britain. It’s all conjecture and, as such, I have no way to form an opinion on which outcome is the more likely.

I’m told that a vote for Nick Clegg is pretty much deemed to be a vote for a hung parliament, which means that I’m not actually voting for a man, I’m voting for a government coalition that I don’t fully understand. Understanding the implications of these things is important if we are to make reasoned, logical decisions, yet all we are really told about is how tall or short the three party leaders are; how garrulous or reticent they seem; are they posh or common? What are their wives like? The real information – the party politics – is shunted behind a layer of spin and treachery and, as voters, we must grope through this oomska to find out what the difference is between them. And when you do, guess what, it’s virtually nothing.

The difference between Barack Obama and John McCain was the difference between black and white (and not just in looks). What’s the difference between Nick Clegg and David Cameron? They could practically be brothers. Gordon Brown could be their weird uncle. The three men are virtually indistinguishable (and not just in looks).

I keep waiting for someone to say or do something that I consider worthy of a vote – something bold and brave – but it’s not forthcoming. So then, on the flip side, I wait for someone to blunder in epic style so I can write them off. Holiday pictures of David Cameron shooting White Rhino’s with an AK47 would work, but, to date, that hasn’t happened either.

A friend of mine recently summed up the reason for this similarity between the Lib. Dems, Labour and Tories by stating that, although Britain had problems, they are not problems major enough to warrant radical reform and, therefore, the main objective of the three parties – as they were so closely matched in polls – is to seem more appealing than their rivals in order to edge the votes in their favour.

It’s not a new thing; the politics of appearance has always been important, but today it seems to dominate. How you look is more important than what you have to say. Style over content. Celebrity politics. And the media continue to play it up. The papers take sides. Impossible to get the facts these days. Ah, the news is on . . . The stranded Brits are coming home on a luxury cruise liner . . . The volcanic ash cloud has blown away from Britain . . . But I can still see a haze in the air. I can’t see clearly. May 6th. All will be clear after May 6th . . . But will it be better?

 

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