Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Dismay the sixth.

The prospect of the election brings me out in dismay. I don't think I have ever felt quite so negative about voting for any of them. The Punch and Judy exchanges, the opportunistic short-term biffs and oofs, the sheer mendacity, smarm, and vitriol count is going to be too much for my delicate constitution.

I loathe Gordon, I loathe Milliband (both Millibands), I loathe Harman, I loathe Alan Johnson, and I certainly loathe Peter Mandelson. Charlie Whelan! I mean, does one even have to consider Charlie Whelan? Only to loathe him all the more. The idea of gratifying any of them, let alone as a complete set, makes me fairly sick.

That's a lot of loathing to go round and I can only see it getting worse as the campaign wears on. Oddly enough, I do have some sympathy for Alistair Darling, Labour's John Major figure. He seems to have kept his dignity so far.

But the personality game is part of the repulsion. Frankly, I don't think it will make very much difference who gets in, unless it's a hung parliament and the LibDems manage to force through proportional representation. That would be a difference. For the better? Possibly, though endless alliances with fringe parties are rarely for the good of any state.

One could just give the whole campaign a miss and vote on principle rather than manifesto and personality, and that, I expect, is what I will do. I don't actually believe manifesto promises anyway. The one principle that remains in this is to support the party that is likely to do more for the weakest and poorest. In principle. I know that's a fat lot of good, but I can't, off-hand, think of anything better.

Perhaps we'll get a visit from one of the parties. Haven't had one in the sixteen years we've lived here so far.


Background Artist said...

Clegg's the one behaving most sensibly: great-great-grandson of an attorney general of senate in imperial Russia Zakrevsky. Ignaty.

Because they have never had Real power, the Lib Dems' accumulated impact upon our lives, and the three generations before our own, their impact has been minimal to nothing at all.

You are wholly unaffected by ninety years of hot air this crowd have spouted whilst taking no practical part in Government, because their front-row has not had a winner on it since the Dragon was dispatched and the original Brythons haven't had a look in since.

Paddy Ashdown. Fell in by accident.

The Scottish leader before Clegg. Nuff said.

Erm. Kinnock?

He coulda bin a contendor, if History hadn't intervened and made his plate a full load of Scouse bufoons from the Bullring antics, striking for the Republic of Liverpool comrade, whatsit said, the radio shmoize, back burbling passionate belief, at twenty one, thirty and, two jags a villa the holiday gaffes, speedos, on the treadmill Comrade blares your heart out, the atomised working class with no identity and/or direction, apart from, up yours facebook droplet, c'mon and sing a new fashoned song for the comrade whose accent dissapeared into thin air at thirteen, Anonymous everyperson (ox21) at blandly hidden heart out on the plazz and maybe baby y'all feel blue one day and red the next.

Can't make up your mind. Tense blaring headache, pain in the ass off your MP. Fancy a change of faces or Facts. Wanna vote for Santy hassle free, pop it in the inbox@libdem Don Clegg, neutral:
zero effect in the last four generations.

Wanna safe pair of hands steering the ship of State telling you the Truth U?


Very well, vote for me. Let me entertain you with some sleight of hand, slip of tongue, tale of tosh, facts of blancmange, it suits you, you know


Nick, hmmm. Does he blare a phoney tone?

Background Artist said...

Well. I've known Don Clegg for, ohh, ten minutes now, and one thinks he is a terrificly interesting chap with lots of intellectual nous that the other two chaps, whatsigorge and career tree hugger. He won't be allowed to cycle to work from the opening day on, unless its low key and a brief workout round Hyde Park, for example, with an escort and lots of blare so you know what's happening. An more important person than you, wants to keep the glowing tone circa first term Tony, the peoples Prince.


Clegg isn't fazed. Cammy's no match in the face-off. DC already behaves as if something of fantastically serious and personally rewarding importance, is happening in the Ideas arena, DC and GB all out, a younger first term tone-replacement, beautiful human being to watch, could gaze at him all day, such a handsome dasher to the recruitment office to sign up for Duty.

So many campaign fought, the front row of C class were in short pants when granny was rampaging like the Morrigan, the first since Liz One who embodied that unique war-goddess Role, executed to perfection, proper brains. Tragic.

Still here, wanna vote, pick me GB, gorgeous winners, it's time to diet, it's gonna be a shock, what happens, when the votes are cast and counted, all the new members, excited, looking forward, leaning into the light of failure...No, no. Sorry, of course not. Success.

Look, the truth is, the go-to people are a bit erm, well, you don't know do you because we've sort of had a special relationship vis a vis Communication and implementing the citizenry testing cards and you, you citizen voter, uniquely part of a personalized identity chip programming partnership between US and you, freinds, Romans, countrypersons, Briton UK, vote for GB, and remember to take the test, do as you're ordered, unless you vote for William Butler Yeats.

Not since the Prince of Wales and Mrs Keppel were entwined within the fabric of a respectable Aristocracy, have the heroes in this political gang been effecting, making and shaping, nothing at all at best, you lose with the Liberal Democrat talking sense, you know what will happen if you stop being afraid of Terror twenty thousand miles away and back again, 'there' your doing so jolly well in, what happened, played a blinder Tony did.

Look at you now comrades, take no notice, trust the safest bet, they most human, with nothing to lose, only win.

Neutral observer, aye.

Dafydd John said...

It worries me that even you are talking in terms that are very similar to the stereotypical Joe Public on this. Though, I am not, perhaps, surprised. This last Parliament has been so corrupt, it's enough to put anyone off.

We have a coalition government in the National Assembly for Wales, and it's doing its job and is also far more popular than the Westminster mob. It's the European way, and probably all the better for it.

I belong to Plaid Cymru, and although I don't enjoy it, will be knocking on people's doors over the next few weeks - though not yours George! I'm surprised that you've never been canvassed. But Plaid would probably be on your list of fringe parties - well, all I can say is that they're not fringe here!

Anyway, cheer up George!

George S said...

I certainly wouldn't consider Plaid a fringe party in Wales, Dafydd, though it would be in Norfolk. I am thinking of UKIP and the BNP. UKIP is between minor and fringe to start with.

I am thinking primarily of The Weimar Republic, and indeed of Hungary, where the nationalists are perfectly accurately described as fascists. Nor would they deny the charge. They won't win, but given the circumstances, they would certainly pressurise the government. I would have plenty of reason for fearing a Hungarian Nationalist Party.

As you know, because we have talked before, my problem with nationalism is that, in my experience, it depends primarily on xenophobia, and on hostility to some specifically targeted group. I am aware it need not always be so, but I think it is never very far from that.

Joe Public will be doing the voting of course - those who bother to turn up. Joe Public is just the people at large. Unless you mean something like: lumpenproletariat, or ignorant backward peasants.

You might care to see today's post.

And good luck with the canvassing.

Dafydd John said...

Thanks for that George.

I can't disagree with anything in today's post by the way. But it's not going to happen. The media doesn't allow the room for politician's to admit to their mistakes any more. It's not allowed, it's regarded as a fatal weakness. And the other parties - all of them - jump on any sign of 'weakness'.

And now of course we have ruthless, relentless 24 hour news to make things even worse.

I understand perfectly well why you are nervous of nationalism(s). However, to take your nervousness to its logical conclusion would mean making the wish of any nation to claim its independence an impossibility. I obviously cannot accept that.

George S said...

I just have a feeling, Daffyd, that a sign of 'weakness' is potentially a sign of strength. It is not tears people want, just a human voice genuinely assessing a situation. The opposition wouldn't look good attacking it.

There are very few things I would take through to their 'logical conclusions', that's if you mean to a kind of reductio ad absurdum.

In 1989 I was marching along the street wearing a national tri-colour rosette. By the following year there were many people who had thrown it away.

Clearly, questions such a language, custom, local responsibility to a local electorate - to take three different but related matters - are of great importance. It's interesting that one of the less recognised modernist projects was the rationalisation of language. It was the most politically 'progressive' who wanted to do away with the minor languages. It was the conservative who wanted to, well, conserve them. I am absolutely in favour of preserving, encouraging, cultivating all languages in which human experience has been invested. In other words- all languages.

Nothing is that simple, of course: the balance between difference and mutuality is delicate. Under certain historical circumstances it may very well be better to argue for the coherence and empowerment of a specific body of people, particularly on historical and cultural grounds.In others it might be better to argue for humanity at large.

It is when you come to defining the grounds and the people, and trying to isolate the elements that give them their cohesion and difference from others that trouble might lie around the corner.

That's not a true Welshman, one might say.

He's not a real Hungarian!,I heard people shout at an open-air political meeting in Budapest. Not at me, I was just one of the crowd. And the man being denied his Hungarianness was fully Hungarian. Just not in the way the objectors thought he should be.

So comes the next step.

Prove to us you are Welsh / Hungarian etc!

And then the next:

So what are you exactly?

And the key thing.

When the chips are down (and they always are down) are you with us, because if you're not with us you're against us.

But I'm sure you know what I mean.

Dafydd John said...

Yes, I know what you mean, but I can only speak of Wales. Nationalism (and it is a loaded word, I agree, and I prefer the Welsh, cenedlaetholdeb) and the whole idea of Wales and Welshness in Wales has developed on civic, and most definitely not ethnic grounds. Questions like 'are you really Welsh' really cannot be heard. Indeed, if you were to read some of the political blogs down here, such as BBC Wales's Betsan Powys, you will see that the vitriol pretty much exclusively comes from those who are dyed in the wool unionists.

Somewhat perversely, again trying to take you thoughts to a logical conclusion (sorry!), the very existence of the BNP then becomes a reason to move away from the idea of defending the British state or nation. Perhaps I'm being unfair there.

I don't think we disagree very much on these matters - if only everyone else were as reasonable and sensible as us, eh?!

As for your: 'a sign of 'weakness' is potentially a sign of strength'
- I couldn't agree more. It's very much like faith; a faith which has no room for doubts isn't really faith at all.

James said...

Fascinating about both Hungary and Wales - this is obviously not just Joe Public, then.

I was going to say that a feature of the BBC's 1979 Election coverage was everyone's deepseated belief on the day that Thatcher was unlikely to be much different from Callaghan. I remember well from my childhood the saying "It doesn't matter who you vote for - the government always gets in." But then, remembering the early '80s, I find it bizarre to listen to 20somethings who want to maintain that Labour's 13 years have been a disaster. Keeping us out of recession for that long (remember the early 2000s downturn in Europe and the US? we didn't share in it) is about as much as you can ask of any government.

This, to my mind, is the government's epitaph should they lose - the later graphs, which adjust for population, are the interesting ones:

TUC Blog on Employment Figures

Dafydd John said...

To go back to poetry! It strikes me that there is comparatively little political poetry being written in Wales at the moment, in both Welsh and English, if you compare it to how things were in the 80's and early 90's. There was an ideology then that most Welsh writers and poets could react to - and hate. And they did.

But the political scene has changed with devolution. Now, the National Assembly and the National Assembly Government are an imperfect and far too weak body and executive. But people have slowly warmed to them, I believe. And I think poets are being a little bit more patient with them, because of their relative newness, and, perhaps more so, because they see the lack of powers that they have, as yet.

In fact, a good deal of what is being written probably deals with the feeling that both bodies probably need more teeth.

However, a Tory government in Westminster and a non-Tory administration in Cardiff Bay could provide the kind of friction that might well re-ignite political writing.

It sounds desperate, but that might be the only good thing that could result from a Tory victory next month!

George S said...

A purely personal response, Daffyd.

There are, I believe, various interesting areas of overlap in the kinds of things that might be considered political poetry. I am with Keats in disliking poetry 'that has a palpable design on us', in other words poetry that is an advertisement for a point of view. I also dislike sermonising and demagoguery, but then passions do drive poetry and politics demand an emotional as well as an intellectual engagement.

You can do political poetry with wit, as in the best of satire, as in Juvenal, Martial, Pope and Shelley (risking smugness and self-indulgence in the process). You can do it with a vision that extends beyond and under politics, as an articulation of the human condition, as in Blake (risking incomprehension and ineffectiveness, in 'The French Revolution'). You can do it well-intentioned and sincere, like Cecil Day Lewis and much of the socialist verse of the thirties and risk being simply dull. I really can't get through much McDiarmid. Stalinism holds no appeal for me whatever.

On the plus side, we have John Davidson's 'Thirty Bob a Week', and, on a more complex level, Andrew Marvell's 'Horatian Ode'. For a Hungarian there is chiefly Attila József writing from direct personal experience of abject poverty, or in English the verse of people like Mary Collier, Robert Bloomfield... etc.

I tend to think much of the poetry collected together in anthologies of political verse, is more politics than poetry, partly because the writers - and generally the editors too - think the partisanship of the politics is enough.

My way of doing it has been essentially and instinctively Blake's, letting the occasionally incomprehensible vision have its head. Occasionally it has been what I hoped was verse with wit. But then nothing is more tedious than someone going on and on being witty.

Wouldn't the situation you are envisaging with a Tory government be somewhat similar to the recent, current, and potentially future Scottish one? Or maybe you think the Scots parliamentary arrangement is less likely to lead to friction.

Dafydd John said...

I think such tensions are just as likely in Scotland!

I am thinking particularly of Welsh language poetry here, and indeed the role that Welsh language poets still have in Welsh society. We are very much public property here - being a poet isn't regarded as being odd! We aren't allowed the luxury of writing in the solitude of the study, rather, we are dragged - screaming and kicking sometimes!- or at least our poems are, to weddings and funerals and parties and protests and rallies and baptisms and... whatever else people want us to do. It is still a very public and active role. So, even now, when, as I say, compared to how it was in the 80s, there is still a fair amount of political stuff being written and recited - simply because it's expected. But also, hopefully, because we mean it!

I agree that the last thing you would want however, is a manifesto in iambic pentameter or cynghanedd!