Friday, 7 May 2010

The race that nobody won.

It's a good title for a scary story, that one. Appropriate, too, because we're living a scary story right now. We have no money, no industry, and now we have no government. Every cloud has a silver lining and mine is a bottle of Dalwhinnie 15-year-old and a crystal glass. All that crap will still be out there when I finish the bottle but I won't mind so much. It was supposed to be Lagavulin but the result didn't justify the expense. I did buy a cigar but I won't smoke it yet. The horizontally-challenged person of non-male gender has yet to vocalise the rhyming words set to music.

It seems to me that the Lib Dems won the election. Both the Cameroid and the Gorgon are crawling to Clegg now and promising all kinds of stuff if he will only let them rule. This means I will have to find a new epithet for the Ring-bearing hobbit. He doesn't really inspire a good one, does he?

The Cameroid only needs a few more and he could get those from the minor parties, so why is he so keen on Frodo's support? The Gorgon needs to intercept Frodo before he destroys the Ring so Mandelgollum is chasing him already. Labour's army of postal voters, some of whom actually exist, have managed to save them from extinction this time but the result means there is likely to be another election soon. No deal between any of those parties has any chance of lasting a year. They can't work together. They are too... Righteous.

What makes it very interesting indeed is that none of those parties can afford another election. They are skint. The Tories have some money, the Lib Dems are counting their last pennies and Labour are in debt to the tune of millions.

Which means that for the next election, the smaller parties will not have to worry about being out-budgeted to death quite so comprehensively. Oh, and postal fraudsters? You won't get paid. Time to start up a campaign, on the cheap, in preparation for that next election. It's best not to spend too much since the parties will play their 'safe seat' psychology again but it doesn't need to be expensive.

It's time to get the thinking hat on and the special random ideas candle lit. Is it best to campaign as an independent or as a party member? If you are independent you are hampered by having to explain in detail what you stand for, to everyone you meet. There is also the psychology of the game to contend with.

Everyone likes to think they voted for a winner. Few have the mental faculties to actually consider which party best represents them, few will even read the campaign literature, many of those smokers standing outside pubs will have voted Labour again. The votes of the fathers are too often visited on their children due to indolence, peer pressure, and tribal belief. Too many votes go to the incumbent party because 'it's a safe seat, innit? Might as well vote for him, he's going to win anyway'.

It is extraordinarily difficult to persuade these people that the seat is only 'safe' because they make it so by voting for it. The voters, not the politicians, make a seat 'safe'. If nobody voted for the incumbent he would poll zero and someone else would take the seat. Yet if you have that argument in a pub, all too often you will hear 'nah, it's a safe seat, he's bound to win it'.

Well the seat here is considerably less safe than it was, thanks to many who, like me, voted elsewhere. The Lib Dems have it but the SNP, this time, have moved from fourth place to a respectable second. It looked like a mountain to climb, but the SNP are now over halfway up it and another election within a year could do it. Especially if the Lib Dems join with Labour between now and then. People here won't be happy about that.

Aberdeen is a little Labour island here, surrounded by Lib Dem and SNP constituencies. The central belt is heavily Labour and if you look at a map, you'll notice something interesting about those constituencies. The Labour ones are broken into lots of little constituencies while the SNP/Lib Dem ones tend to be one huge constituency. So the number of Labour seats returned by Scotland does not reflect Scotland. It reflects the concentrations of council estates in mainly central-belt Scotland and in the shellsuit areas of Aberdeen. Labour MPs each have a small part of the Labour area. The design of the constituency map mean it is amazing that the SNP managed to beat Labour in the Scottish elections, and they also mean that it is not possible for the SNP, Lib Dems or Tories to shift Labour's hold on Scotland.

Well, not until there's no more money for benefits. Then the Labour constituencies will burn first. That's where they have concentrated their pets. Unfortunately, many of their pets are not housetrained. Most are not even tame.

Once again I am straying from the point. The voter psychology means that it is extremely hard to get very far as an independent. They like tribes, these people. What they want to see is a party machine, one with definite aims, that they can support much as they support their local football team. We are not dealing with the intelligentsia, we are dealing with everyday people who have no time to delve into details and who don't really want to think about politics. Their attitude is that the whole point of voting is to appoint someone else to deal with politics, so they don't have to.

Some will look at an independent candidate, consider that candidate's words and think 'I like that' and vote for the independent. Most will not even watch party political broadcasts on TV. They used to be on all channels at the same time for that reason, because given a choice, most people won't watch them. Doesn't work now, they just switch over to a Sky channel or put on a DVD. Most don't actually care, they just vote as their parents did.

I suppose I was lucky in that respect. I was brought up in Bignose Kinnock's constituency with a coalmining, staunch Labour father who broke tradition because Kinnock was, and remains, an especially odious little git with a face so freckled he seems to have stood too close to someone with explosive diarrhoea. So there was no pressure on me, other than to not vote for 'that bloody arrogant hatchet-faced bastard' (one of my father's more printable descriptions).

Still, it seems to me that if you want to get the average voter's attention, you have to have a party behind you. Very few will listen to an independent.

Suppose I wanted to get elected here. My best bet would be to join the SNP and convince Mr. Salmond that I was his best choice of candidate for the area. Then I would be in with a fighting chance of taking down the Lib Dems and getting into Parliament. That cannot happen. To start with, my repeated references to Al the Oily Fish will probably count against me to some extent. Then there is the small matter of me being a smoker and a big fan of the Milk of Amnesia, both of which activities are frowned on by the party. Plus I don't agree with most of their policies. And I'm not Scottish. Here, though, I am Ethnic and indeed, mixed race and part European which might bring a few brownie points my way. Hey, if Poles count as a different race, so do Italians, and I have hair that needs to be washed every day, skin that needs to be washed more than once a day, a love of pasta and the driving skills to prove my heritage. Ten minutes in a car with me and you will be in no doubt of my Italian ancestry, believe me. Count yourselves lucky I don't like driving. I don't have a bolognese-stained string vest but I'm not old enough to qualify for that yet.

Even if it were possible, the SNP would never select a drinky-smoky-out-of-EU member as a candidate for anywhere. I have no political background either and I can't spend years campaigning for the oily fish (whoops, that's another one) and I certainly can't ingratiate myself. I'm over fifty now. I don't have time to be nice to people unless I like them. On Judgement Day, I can face God and say 'Yes, I was nasty to all those people but they deserved it and you cannot call me two-faced'. To which he will reply 'Well thank Me for that. With a face like yours, one is enough. I didn't just break the mould when I made you, you know. I pounded it to dust'.

Anyway, there is no point me trying to really get elected. Not this time round. Here, the next election will be Lib Dem against SNP. I fully expect the SNP to gain ground and I don't want to split their vote so I won't be looking to steal SNP voters. My best outcome is a narrow majority, enough to break the 'safe seat' psychology.

Labour came third with 9800 votes, most of whom are smokers and drinkers, I bet. I can steal some of those. They'll label me 'far-right' but my immigration policy is that anyone is welcome, I'm just not going to pay you to come. They'll label me 'racist-Nazi-bigot' but I'm an immigrant here too. I can play that game and I've spent enough time at the hands of the Righteous to know their game plays.

The Tories came fourth with 9100. Foxhunting ban? I'm against that too. I'm against all bans that are based purely on spite. I like foxes, but then I also like mice. There's one running around in my garden now and I won't kill him. If he gets in the house, he's dead. I like herons except when they eat the fish in my pond. I like crows but when they shit on my washing I would take great delight in squeezing their necks until their eyes pop out. There is a time and place for 'like'. Tories here are rural and are losing pubs faster than the towns. I can steal some of those.

Independent or party. That's the question I have to consider. If I go the 'party' route there is no guarantee any party would tolerate me or let me stand. If I go the 'independent' route it will be even more difficult because I won't be able to point people to a tribe with definite policies. I am not Batman, I can't solve all the world's problems as an individual. I don't even really want to. This local area is my only concern, and my place in it. All I really want is to smoke in the pub and not be browbeaten for things I do that cause no problems for anyone else. I wouldn't even be political if the political parties hadn't forced me into it.

Over the next few days I will have to consider this question. There will be some months before our government collapses and to be honest, it would be better for the country if it was a Labour/Lib Dem coalition that collapsed. Better for the local area too. If I do finally rescind the principles of half a century and actually join a political party, it will probably be this one.

No, I don't agree with everything, but I agree with far more of that party's principles than any other. Still there are questions. Would they allow a loose cannon into their gradually-developing party? Would they, if I joined, let me anywhere near any risk of pressing buttons that matter?

And of course, would I join any party that would let someone like me be a member?

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a lovely little 15-year-old demanding my attention. Come here, you smoky little minx...


almighty said...

why not the UKIP ? i must admit not all their policies appeal but a vast majority do and i can actually stomach listening to the leadership without wanting to rip off their heads and do potty down their necks :)

JuliaM said...

UKIP do indeed have quite a bit going for them, but it almost seems that there's no one single major party that's prepared to go for a small state.

They ALL want a large one.

Except LPUK.

Man with Many Chins said...

Excellent post as always LI. I always look forwards to reading your posts:-)

JohnRS said...

I am coming to the conculsion that there is not one single party that meets my needs. They all have at least one major policy that goes against what I want. So every time I hear them spout forth asking for my suppport it's asking a serious compromise for me. Yes, I know politics is about compromise, but there are limits.

On the upside most of them (but not all) have a policy or two that I really like. But there's never enough good stuff to outweigh the crap they also bring along. So I am never really happy with any choice that's open to me.

As LI says, independents never really get anywhere either, you need a party behind you to get people's attention.

So what I need is some sort of pick'n'mix party. Based on true-conservative ideas (not CallMeDave's wierdy version) with a strong dash of libertarianism. I'd steal The LimpDims £10K tax threshold plans and UKIPs anti-Europe stance. I'd want a big slice of the Hannan/Carswell"Plan" to push powers to local level; repeal of a huge number of anti-freedom, nanny state, Big Brother laws(including anti-smoking and foxhunting) and a major push to make people responsible for their actions and punish them when the screwed up. I'd want a major clean-up of the courts to get rid of judges that think they're social workers. I'd want legal limits on the size of the state (ie much smaller than now) get the general idea.

I'm probably not alone in some/most of this but where the hell am I going to find it?

Trying to Keep UP said...

There was only an election because the 5 years were just about up and the law demanded it.

Sorry for being thick, but what would compel "them" to hold another one anytime soon?

Surely ALL OF THEM would rather stitch up a deal than face US again?

Gordon Is a Moron said...

Very well put...

I live in a very safe Labour seat, the monthly council properganda speaks of how muh money has been spent on various things, the money of course is money funelled from other parts of the country/eu. Yet despite this the town centre is largly borded up, and I dont mean shops. I mean literally 50% of the town centre is borded off. Despite this the trolls still vote for more of the same time after time.

Unemployment in the area (official figures) are 7.5%, so in reality closer to 15-20%, and that despite the fact the council employs about 10% of the population of the area.

I dont see at all what can be done, local politics is so tribal there can never be any change affected at this level, and relocating elsewhere in the UK is largely pointless as the self sufficent areas are sucked dry to feed the socialist utopias and their client state.

I read last week that the local councill have employed "health walkers" to lead people on 1 and 2 mile walks around the local area. Are we really as a society that messed up that we cannot manage to walk 2 miles without some nanny state guidance.

Apologies for the incoherant rambling, the blood started to boil as I started thinking about it.

Anonymous said...

I was brought up in the old Bedwellty constituency,but lucky for me I moved away before I could vote for Kinnock.
I was young and very daft then, now I know better.
John Gibson

Leg-iron said...

Almighty - I think UKIP confuses the Scots. They hear SNP shouting about independence for Scotland and UKIP shouting about independence from Europe while SNP want to take us out of the UK and hand us over to Europe... By the time you get to pointing out that independence from the UK becomes irrelevant once we are all EU regions anyway, practically everyone's eyes have developed a glassy sheen.

It's too complex a message for most people. They don't have time - or in many cases the inclination - to think about it.

Leg-iron said...

JuliaM - that's true, but selling the message of a government that would sack most of itself as soon as it was in power is a tough call. Especially with the current level of trust in politicians.

Better to concentrate on the 'personal freedom' aspects, I think.

Leg-iron said...

Many with many Chins - ta.

John R - I came to the same conclusion. There is no 'perfect party' and there never will be because everyone wants a different range of things. So the nearest-fit will have to do.

Otherwise we would have to form sixty million parties with one member each.

Leg-iron said...

Trying to keep up - None of them want another election for the simple reason they can't afford it. They'd be campaigning while selling the Big Issue to fund themselves.

There'll be all kinds of strange deals going on now.

Leg-iron said...

Gordon is a Moron - 'health walkers'?

Why don't they just put the dole office a mile from the nearest bus stop? Same result, no salary costs.

The staff might get a little fitter too.

Leg-iron said...

John Gibson - you weren't at the grammar/comprehensive between 1971-1978 by any chance? I might have sold you a porn mag...

Stewart Cowan said...

Put a small piece of cheese on the floor and place the rim of an upside-down cup on top of it. Balance a wok lid on the top of the opposite side of the cup as near to the edge without it falling. (The cup should be almost completely under the wok lid.)

When a mouse runs in and pulls the cheese, the wok lid falls down over cup, cheese and hopefully, mouse.

It has worked for me really well in the past and no mouse was hurt in the process. Field mice are lovely creatures.

I also put a piece of cardboard under the contraption for easier eviction of the unwelcome rodent. Just take the whole thing outside, then release the mouse back into the wild, or put it down the trousers of a Labour voter.

I cannot advise you on your political dilemma! All I can say is that the people need educating.

Gordon Is a Moron said...

Indeed, in checking the staff are volunteers, but I imagine someone will be paid to administer the scheme etc.

I read somewhere (although I cannot find it in my feeds) an idea which really appeals. Some things are truely national, defence, motorway infrastructure etc. Why cannot the rest be funded and paid for locally, more localism if the North East wants more public services etc fine, but let their taxes pay for it. That way the people who vote for more staism can have it, but they bare the true cost of their decisions.

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