Some years ago, a joke did the rounds about the first Albanian astronaut. The main thing you need to know is that at the time the joke was told Albania was a head-bangingly totalitarian Marxist state with total media control. Anyway….
Albania manages to launch an astronaut in to orbit, and Radio Tirana announces the fact with great pomp and circumstance. The country goes wild, and there is much celebration. Which goes on for days. Anyway, after a few days Nico turns up at the office looking a bit of a mess, and his boss hauls him in for a telling off, particularly about his wrinkled shirt and tie.
“It’s not my fault, boss, i’s the fault of that damn astronaut…”
“How come,” says his boss.
” Well, the only thing on the radio for the last few weeks has been about the astronaut, so I turned on the TV. There was nothing on there except for stories about the astronaut and his family. So I went to buy a newspaper – again, full of stuff about this guy. Same with magazines and books – nothing but stuff about this guy. I bought some records and tapes – all full of songs about the bloody astronaut…all the muzak in the market from the loudspeakers, even the hold signal on the telephone…all this bugger!”
“OK, but how does this explain your shirt and tie?”
“Well, I didn’t dare turn the iron on to iron anything because I was scared that news of the astronaut might come out of it….”
And that’s sort of how I’m starting to feel only a little over a week in to the campaign. The news media are doing their best to make the event in to a super-duper, highly exciting news event, but it’s hard going. And I think there are a few reasons for this.
We’ve lost faith in politicians and the political process. They’ve proved themselves singularly unfit to govern in the last year or so through their attitude towards expenses and the like, and it increasingly appears that politicians of all parties the world over have been unable to manage national economies when confronted by global interests such as the banks.
There is a higher level of distrust of politicians than at any time in my memory. The current government claimed they wouldn’t increase income tax in the Parliament – they lied. They lied about the circumstances around the invasion of Iraq. They’ve introduces law after law that erodes our basic civil liberties. From the opposition parties we have heard very few loud protesting voices. The Liberal Democrats are so keen to achieve some element of power that they won’t even give a straight answer as to how they would determine which party to support in the event of a hung Parliament. I’d like to think that this is because they’ll play each vote on it’s merits, but given the fact that it was Liberal Democrat peers who tightened up the Digital Economy Bill, I don’t particularly trust them either. And the Tories – those of us with long memories know that the Tories were just as bad liars when they were in power.
I have no idea how I’m voting yet. The best I’ve got so far is a few precepts, in order of application:
- I will vote for whichever party will not introduce more laws that stifle our civil liberties – even better the party that will revoke some of the more outrageous laws bought in over the last 13 years.
- I will vote for whichever party undertakes to keep the hand of State out of my day to day life – i.e. that will impose a smaller Government on me and that at least does something to decrease the red tape I encounter trying to run a business.
- I will vote for whichever party promises to give me an effective and streamlined public sector and health service – not the bloated monstrosity we seem to have today.
All bets are off for me; I won’t be voting for a minority party – it will be either one of the ‘Big Three’ in England or a spoilt ballot paper. I’m old enough to remember the impact of the unions under Callaghan in the late 1970s, and the economic devastation wreaked on the economy by Thatcher in the early 1980s. Oddly enough, on a personal basis I’ve always been better off under the Tories and suffered under Labour, but would never consider voting Tory because it went agaisnt my attitudes about society. How ironic that NuLab, therefore, have introduced policies that attack our liberties in ways that the Tories would never have dared.
I have no idea how I’ll be voting. Watch this space and if I work out what I’m doing I’ll tell you.