After the election: Friday will be funk and confusion

EDITOR'S BLOG: And we only have ourselves to blame. Our infantile election has done us no credit whatsoever.

by Matthew Gwyther
Last Updated: 12 Oct 2015

First things first. Here at MT we would not dream of insulting your intelligence by telling you which way to vote. Politics and especially the election of a government is a deeply personal thing. There’s a reason you are left alone in the privacy of a voting booth - it’s a bit like a confessional. I don't even tell my wife how I vote. I’m not even sure myself what to do tomorrow. So, we trust your judgment in these things.

It’s one of the more unsavory aspects of our media - and especially national newspapers - in this country that they have a tradition of giving marching orders to the polling booth the day before a general election. The Sun’s effort today is particularly squalid. Murdoch still loves to think it was him that kept Neil Kinnock out of power with the notorious light bulb cover in 1992. The Mail grinds away nastily. The Telegraph is the non-doms hymn sheet. I wonder why that might be? Richard Desmond’s Express is its usual unspeakable, chronically low-IQ self in endorsing UKIP.

Whatever you think of Ed Miliband, how he eats a bacon roll has nothing to do with the price of milk. Or his ability to govern this country.  The ad hominem attacks on him are shameful in a democracy. They demean us. All those tens of millions of people across the world who suffer repressive regimes and dream of democracy would be horrified to see how we neglect and trivialise ours. This isn’t a Punch and Judy show - it’s serious and important.

The truth is this whole campaign has been deeply disappointing. We all deserve a more mature and honest debate of the real issues. As the weeks have gone on the empty and undeliverable promises have grown more and more absurd. The mad ‘no new taxes’ pledge from Cameron, the even madder stone tablet from Miliband playing Moses. (And I watched Ridley Scott’s Exodus at the weekend. Very poor indeed: not a patch on Bladerunner or even Gladiator, although he got the Russell Crowe and Ollie Reed jockstraps out of the wardrobe for a re-use in the latter.)

Why can’t we be trusted to deal with real facts? Mankind cannot bear too much reality according to TS Eliot, but a bit more over the last three months would have been a great idea.  It’s no good whatsoever, for example, treating the NHS like a sacred cow about which nothing can be said except it is ‘ours’ and is peopled by angelic nurses who can do no wrong and we should give it all the money it asks for. The NHS is very far from perfect and we can no longer afford to fund modern healthcare in the way to which we have become accustomed. Hard facts need to be faced here without screaming blue murder about ‘privatisation’ One of the few courageous things Farage did was question the modus operandi of the NHS before his people told him it was a sure-fire vote loser.

And what about foreign policy? Kids in nurseries in Aleppo are being barrel-bombed daily. But did we hear anything about stuff beyond our shores? Beyond the usual anti-EU grumblings, zilch. Our politicians have no courage. Policy has become a populist race to the bottom.

What a mess. Two things we can be sure of. The American electoral system is even more deeply corrupted and far worse. And today none of the leaders of the UK political parties is going to announce in an upbeat fashion a la David Steel, ‘Return to your constituencies and prepare for government!’ Friday will be funk and confusion. They should all go back for a deep, deep rethink.

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