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...