General Election 2015

Once upon a time, the British general election was a matter of global importance. The results would potentially have an effect on hundreds of millions of people across the planet. From the landing of British ships on Newfoundland in 1497 to the handover of Hong Kong exactly five hundred years later in 1997, an empire was administered from London. Covering an area greater than one fifth of the land surface area of the planet, it peaked with a population of nearly 460 million people. No empire has ‘bettered’ those figures. Although as a percentage of the world’s population, the British Empire doesn’t even make it into the top dozen. Did ya know that? The First Persian Empire tops the list, consuming nearly 45% of the people of the planet alive at that time.

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But anyway, it’s been a few decades since a UK general election really, really mattered to the world at large. Sure, the country is still a major player in international affairs, but no longer a governor. So you are forgiven if you really have no interest in the upcoming election or who wins. Truth be told, new governments do not often attempt to change much. Elections anywhere really only have a great impact outside domestic borders when radicals take the reigns of key nations, particularly in times of economic turmoil. Germany in 1933 for example. Or Greece, potentially, in 2015. Sorry chaps, but Obama is not a radical in any way, shape of form.

This year, though, the UK election could have a wider impact. Certainly on the European stage. The rumble of feet heading towards the EU exit is growing louder. It might be a foolhardy direction to tread, but it has momentum. One fringe party in particular have lead the way, but it is the the current incumbents who are offering to open the door. The Conservative party have promised an ‘In / Out’ referendum in the next parliament. And frankly, a scarily large proportion of the country are stupid enough to vote based on wot they been readin’ in their tabloid poison of choice. It would be a close run affair, and even the bookies are not offering much difference between the two options.

I don’t read tabloids. I will browse through the online offerings of the Guardian and occasionally buy a copy of the Times. But even then, I take what I read with a pinch of salt. Or at least balance off one version of the ‘truth’ with the other. This election I will probably take more time than I’ve done before to read into the manifestos and promises of each of the main political players. I think you know which way I will likely cast my vote. But nothing is set in stone. That’s an important principal for me. Picking your colour and sticking to it through thick and thin is what you do when choosing a football team to support. The country changes, as does its priorities, its needs, its place in the world. Parties change, both in personnel and philosophy. And my vote changes accordingly. What matters to me are the policies and promises offered for the next four years, and by whom. Can they be trusted? Inevitably, no, they can’t. But which of the evils on the shelf is the least bitter to swallow?

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The first party to have stuffed literature through my letterbox are UKIP. The early bird catches the worm. Except, in this instance, UKIP is the worm. Having earlier stated that I have an open mind with my vote, that only stretches so far. Sure, I’ll read their document once I’ve fished it out of the scanner. But I wouldn’t even use this insidious document as toilet paper. Though it may well share the same eventual fate, flushed into oblivion. In a single A5 sheet, UKIP demonstrates what is wrong with many politicians, but something they particularly specialise in. Half truths that paint only half the picture. Insert ‘rich, old white’ between policies and people and the message is clearer.

And I strongly suspect that those raised hands belong to people who have the wrong skin colour or nationality, being herded on to transport trains headed for the other side of the channel tunnel, at the end of a shotgun toted by one of the aforementioned rich, old white people. Or maybe I’m letting my imagination run away with itself. Whatever, they’re a nasty lot. One would have to be Sherlock to see through all the half truths, false promises and rosy pictures that the political combatants are soon to bombard us with. Join me over the next few months as I try to do my best. The game is afoot.

10 Comments

  • Just like with us, I seriously doubt you’ll be able to vote for a party that does away with endless, warrantless spying on innocent citizens, or a party that forswears endless, expensive foreign wars to try to impose liberal, western values on the Mideast.

    Here in the USA, it doesn’t really matter who you vote for; the policies don’t change much.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we are growing increasingly cynical in our old age.

    • Ah, the spying. I know this is an issue where we differ. It’s not that I approve of it. I’ve simply always assumed it to be the case. They’ve simply been caught this time. Which is a good thing. But from a political point of view, its just not at the top of my priorities.

      It also has to be said, that a vote for Labour isn’t earth shatteringly different than a vote for the Tories. But different enough, at the moment, to make a vote worthwhile.

      But I too am cynical.

  • How fortunate you are that, with only 2 months left before the election, you are just now receiving your first campaign literature. Here in the states, the electioneering in interminable. They are already maneuvering for the 2016 elections.
    At least your Conservative Party has some semblance of sanity. Here the Republican Party has been hijacked by the crazies, and they sound very much like your UKIP… a party for rich, old, white men (plus the religious fringe).
    I look forward to reading your take on how things are going over there.
    Saludos,
    Bill

    • Democracy is great ‘n’ all. But you can have too much of a good thing.

      Out current conservative party have, in ideology rather than policy, probably moved as close to the Democratic position as they have ever been. And that is due to their move to the right, rather than Obama swinging too far to the left.

      Happily, the UK public wouldn’t put up with Cameron and Osborne’s ideology. And they know it.

  • The EU and its Confederation form of government is weak, should it live, it will always be weak. For Britain to withdraw its association with the mainland, it might push the policy makers to reconsider its current form of governance Opting out might be to all of mankind’s future benefit.

    • UK withdrawal may well force the EU to reform. In fact, it would probably allow greater reform given that it has been the UK putting the brakes on greater degrees of federalism. And that is the EU, or more specifically, the Eurozone, weakpoint.

      Would the UK benefit? Maybe. But that relies on us being able to cherry pick the parts of EU policy (trade etc) that we like, and the EU agreeing to it.

      It has to be said, Greece is the more important show in Europe at the moment. If they get their debt wiped off the slate, then Spain, Ireland and Portugal will be coming to the table next. If they don’t get a chunk of their debt wiped off? Then either their current government has to back track on all their promises or a Greek exit beckons. There’s a crunch coming either way.

      • As to Greece: It is just too small of a polity to really matter in the big picture. It goes or stays is not going to kill the EU. Big players like the UK, France, Italy, Spain even Poland could topple the EU house of cards but I doubt very much that Greece would cause much more than a ripple in Europe’s economy should its electorate decide to ‘pack it in’. It might even be good for the union. The union has always had targets for member states to achieve, that every state has abused to one extent or the other. Developing a coherent policy for states leaving the union would put a little teeth in your current method of governance.

        • Greece in a small fish in the pond, although its debts are large enough to hurt its lenders if they aren’t repaid. It wasn’t meant as free money. But some of the bigger fish, such as Spain, are watching. Whatever happens with Greece may well have a domino effect on the EU.

          • Spain and Greece were cheaters on their numbers on their way into the EU, it was well known at the time, the lenders knew as well as I. Moral Hazard rears its ugly head. The lenders will take their bath on half or lose the whole, and well they should. Fishy numbers are what they are and when lenders ignore risk or underprice the risk they are asking for a black eye. Think ‘no documentation home loans’ in the US in say 2005, 08 rolled around and there were packets of notes that had never had one dollar paid on the underlying equity. Spain would be foolish to let the lenders off, as Ben Franklin said “A fool and his money are soon parted”.

            The way out is about an eighty cent USD Euro for two-three years. The Germans will sputter and spit but if they want their European Union it is going to cost. I don’t have a dog in the fight, it is just the way I see it coming down.

        • You’re not wrong, and the iffy numbers of some EU members was well publicized at the time. I cannot tell the future, but tend to think the past isn’t a bad place to look for lessons learned. Currency union has been tried plenty of times. To date, without total fiscal union, it has been a success on a grand total of zero occasions. There are reasons why that is the case, and I see nothing so far to suggest those issues are being addressed with the Euro. Quite the opposite in fact. It’s only saving grace is scale.

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