A Long Election

This blog has been irregular for a while.

Basically since from the general election, when I rashly thought it might be kinda groovy to get all involved.

And boy… was it an experience.  There’s masses to say, but not world enough or time.  I learnt a lot.  Some thoughts, in no particular order….

  • You want to get into politics?  Know the law.  Election law.  Rules about fundraising.  Where you can and can’t stand on election day.  Whether you can wear a rosetta with your party’s name on it, or just the colour.  Where you can put posters.  Where you can’t.  What you can and can’t do when calling up people.  Guys: it’s not that hard, but it matters.  Know the law.
  • One hour spent having a cup of tea with a volunteer is worth at least eight hours of manpower if that volunteer then decides to help you.  Buy your volunteers a cuppa tea.
  • Taking minutes at meetings is the path to enlightenment.
  • There isn’t enough time, and there aren’t enough people.  Embrace both of these truths, and verily shall yea be blessed.
  • Running an election campaign in which you open with ‘let’s go fox hunting’, escallate through ‘and starve poor children’ and finish up with ‘abolish the human rights act….’ – not cool.  Not cool.
  • People use graphs to lie.  My personal favourite was one graph by, yes I’m gonna call you out, the Lib Dems, who after being obliterated as an electoral force in 2015 found the one local election in one local ward – not even part of the local elections themselves, but a by-election, where approximately 2000 people voted and one Lib Dem councillor got put in… to prove that they are a serious opposition force.  Again, I hate to say it: not cool, people.  Which is a pity, as I’m trying my very best to like the Lib Dems.  I want to, mostly because I’m angry that Labour isn’t actually growing a pair of testicles and opposing Brexit.  But other than opposing Brexit, I’m not actually sure what the Lib Dems stand for, and hell, they can’t do maths.
  • Door-knocking works.  You want to work out where your local political parties have been knocking on doors?  Wherever they did better than anywhere else.
  • Door-knocking sucks.  I get it – you’re annoyed at being canvassed, you just want the guy on your doorstep to piss off.  I promise you, they’re having a really hard day.  Apathy through to hostility are their bread and water; be kind.  Offer them a biscuit, regardless of their political affiliation.  It’s only human.
  • A lot of local parties are skint.  Small parties, especially so.  And most are run on volunteers.  These volunteers have to fit hours and hours of work around their full-time jobs.  It’s hard.  If you think that perhaps you are encountering a less than fluent electoral machine in your local constituency, then odds are that is in fact the case.
  • It’s hard to condense a big idea into 600 words of copy on the back of a leaflet.  “Let’s fix schools!” sounds great, but the question of how, even if you have a decent answer, is prolonged.  “End arbitrary exams; increase funding by raising income tax and separating our finances from private enterprise; reclaim land from academies before they can take ownership of it; increase teacher pay; feed kids at school…”  Before you know it, your punchy leaflet with a few hundred words on how you’re the best is now several pages long and you’re trying to explain why you feel Computer Science is under-rated, and whether you think trickle-down economics has failed.  That said, the move, particularly again I gotta say it, by parties such as UKIP, to go down the entirely negative road is arguably more exacerbating.  “We’re gonna end scroungers!  We’re gonna end immigration!  We’re gonna end fat-cat politics!”  Dude, it’s punchy.  I mean… also really dodge, but punchy.  But it’s also basically entirely meaningless, and that’s a shame.
  • Politics matters.  I know – we’re very tired.  We’re massively frustrated.  Now the elation of the Tories not actually wiping out Labour as an electoral force has passed, we’re still stuck with a party that seems set to do itself harm, and no one is standing up for Europe in a way that 48% of the country sorta need and frankly probably deserve.  (Because sure, 52% is a majority, but leaving millions of people voiceless with two fingers and a farting sound isn’t actually the point of democracy.)  But even if you don’t give two shits about whether we leave Europe or not, and find the economics of how we’re already heading towards being buggered annoying, then the truth is you probably still care about the rest of it.  About police funding.  About the right to speak what you think, go where you want, and be respected as an individual over say, the power of a company to shaft you or of a government to imprison you without trial.  You care about seeing your GP.  About your kids getting decent teaching.  You care about the roads working, train tickets being affordable, and the environment being safe and pleasant to live in.  And damnit, if you ticked ‘yes’ on even one of those points, you care about politics.  Because it makes the world we live in.

There’s rumours of another election soon.

I’m shattered and couldn’t give two monkeys, but if it comes… annoyingly, I sorta feel I gotta keep on trying…

2 Comments:

  1. I have to take issue with a couple of points you made at the beginning; first, nobody said “let’s go foxhunting”, parliament was offered a free vote on lifting the ban, which is a completely different thing, as it would give MP’s a chance to vote according to their consciences, which I’m pretty certain would have resulted in the ban being reinforced even more strongly. Second “let’s stop feeding poor children”; when I was at school, my family would almost certainly, by current standards, be considered poor, we had no central heating or double glazing in our council house – in the winter of 1963 not only were my bedroom windows covered in frost patterns, all of my bedroom walls sparkled with frost – for four months! None of the bedrooms had heating, we had one coal fire in the living room. I never had school meals, I never qualified, and I can’t recall anyone I actually knew who did, right through school – I’m not even sure what the criteria were to qualify for school meals, possibly living well outside the town, whereas I lived close enough to walk home, although it took around fifteen minutes, and I lived too close to qualify for a place in the cycle racks.
    As someone brought up in a working class family with only one parent working, my dad, who was a toolmaker in Westinghouse Brake & Signal Co, I think my take on what makes a family ‘poor’ contrasts sharply with the modern definition…

  2. We qualified for free school meals. My father taught at a university. I think what makes a family poor depends heavily on
    a. what your position is relative to others
    b. what support your environment provides

    When I was young there were fewer cars, it was safer to go out, there were public parks and playing fields and free school milk. There was no requirement to have a computer because computers didn’t exist. There were excellent libraries. In 1963 my father riddled the back boiler every morning and there was one other coal fire in the house and we had an outside lavatory. But so did a lot of our peers. If you don’t have a fireplace, you can’t gather scrap wood to burn on it. You need money to pay heating charges instead.

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