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Election-watch: 13 days to go

Let’s begin by just listing some of what happened yesterday.

Perhaps the first news I registered after waking was that, with a fortnight to go to Polling Day and the latest poll showing that the Tories might be on course for a 68-seat majority, Labour strategists were now going to switch to fielding more Brexit-backing shadow front benchers to the scrutiny of broadcaster interviews, apparently in an attempt to do (what might at first look seem) the illogical, i.e. simultaneously appeal both to its Remainer support in the south and its equivalent Leavers in the Midlands and north.

Meanwhile rumours that Boris was running scared of being interviewed by Andrew Neil at all and of appearing alongside other Party leaders in any public forum gained traction when – at 7.00pm on Channel Four – the channel’s debate on climate change opened with presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy revealing that neither Boris nor the Brexit Party’s Nigel Farage had turned up to appear (as invited) and therefore would be represented during the programme by blocks of ice signifying the worrying state of the political world’s approach to perhaps the biggest issue of all.

Elsewhere – I’m summarising here – Scottish Labour deselected Safia Ali, its candidate for Falkirk, because of her historical anti-Semitic posts on Facebook; union bosses have added an additional £3 million to Labour’s Election funding in response to the latest poll news; the latest figures show that EU citizen migration to the UK has dropped to its lowest level in sixteen years; and Matt Hancock and other Tory spokespeople were doing their best (not very successfully) to deny and/or defend their Party’s policies as regards a potential UK/US trade deal and specifically Labour’s allegation that these include opening up the NHS to US pharma companies and eventually selling it off.

We do seem to be moving from the ‘bizarre’ stage of this Election Campaign to the “Who cares any more – any old how will do …” as combination of electorate fatigue, indifference, boredom and revulsion at the ongoing spectacle of the UK political elite ‘on the stump’ kicks in.

Such is the nature of the political set-up these days – and I’d tar the broadcast and print media for playing as big a part in the ‘process’ as the political parties themselves with their widely-publicised ‘big interviews and debates’ and daily coverage of the ‘latest developments’ (all carefully choreographed by prior arrangement) – that nobody trusts any of it anymore.

It’s a truism, of course – but (never mind what happens on the way) all that counts is the result on The Day.

Especially in the age of blanket social media and when every ‘fake news’ item dreamed up in a teenager’s back bedroom can have as much currency as anything else.

I’d venture to suggest that only safe conclusions that can be safely drawn are that firstly, it’s going to get worse before it gets better and secondly, there is zero point in trying to predict the outcome of this 2019 General Election.

The sad truth is that there’s an inevitable degree of “Whatever you do is wrong” in Western-style democracies when it comes to 21st Century political campaigning.

The fashionable hordes of fact-checking backroom staff don’t actually contribute much when allegedly-claimed democratic political elections have never particularly bothered about The Truth of the impact (or not) of the various Parties’ policies, e.g. how sound they are in theory or practice, how much they will really cost, what impact they might have upon the economy in question or indeed the very fabric of society involved?

The easiest analogy to draw down is that ‘the political game’ resembles little more than a glorified version of One Man And His Dog, with the combatants desperately trying to manoeuvre herds of sheep [voters] around infinitely large course of unconnected fences, obstructions and undulating ground with a view to finally corralling them in the right pen and swinging round the gate on the end of a rope to finish the job on Polling Day.

What I’m trying to convey to readers is how frustrating it can be for Party strategists when – never mind the weather conditions or other extraneous potential factors – unlike on the real version in which contestants at least took their turns one at a time – in the political version of One Man And His Dog there’s a hell of a lot that can go wrong (if you think about it) when all the Parties are seeking to manoeuvre different herds of sheep around the same course at the same time whilst simultaneously trying their best to ‘collect’ individual sheep from each others’ herds as they go.

For me, the most dangerous aspects of the nation’s current political discourse and scheming are the impressions they give to the average member of public that democracy – if it works at all – certainly isn’t doing so in the UK at the moment and therefore the entire process is barely worth bothering with.

From this viewpoint, the political elite are always going to ensure that what they want happens and (many people’s attitude is) frankly they’ve got better things to do with their time … like getting on with living their lives, for instance.

About Simon Campion-Brown

A former lecturer in politics at Keele University, Simon now lives in Oxfordshire. Married with two children, in 2007 he decided to monitor the Westminster village via newspaper and television and has never looked back. More Posts