I’m finding myself thinking about politics. Or maybe I’m getting even more rid of politics? A subject I’m not fond of, though it’s hard to escape.
The first time I ever voted I was pretty much dragged down to the voting station by my father, who wanted me to vote Conservative I think. I didn’t want to vote at all, so I voted Liberal, which was the closest to not voting. Since then I think I have voted at every general election, and have voted Labour, on the basis that if I wasn’t voting for what I actually wanted, I was voting for what I despised less.
We do not have a system where your vote necessarily counts for anything other that statistics, unless you’re in an area with a close run between two parties. Your vote goes to determine the outcome of your area, and your area in turn then goes to determine the outcome for the country. If you vote against the tide of your local population, your vote counts for nothing (other than statistics, as mentioned above). If you vote with the tide, you just add to that tide. It is only if the options available have relatively equal support that you make any difference. Added to that, there is a “first past the post” system for who forms the government. There have been campaigns for electoral reform, and we had a referendum a few years ago which returned a popular rejection of the idea – but the public are so manipulable, and given the attachment to both the class system and the monarchy, I think the public “listens to its betters” even when it hates them. Needless to say, the two major parties in British politics benefit from the status quo.
Both our major parties do the same things though, aside from wanting to do them at different speeds and in a different style. The privatization of the NHS (universal health care) was started by The Conservatives definitively in the 1980s, but continued under “New Labour”, and now it is accelerating more than ever under the Conservatives again. The abolition of accessible further education for all was begun under New Labour, who also wreaked havoc on education as a whole, only to be continued by the Conservatives. The use of the private company Atos to assess the disabled for the stripping of their benefits was pioneered by the Labour Party, and then expanded by the Conservatives. The Labour Party talk the same language of shop keeping and belt tightening as the Conservative Party (not that it ever applies to their own wages or pensions), they just say they’ll tighten the rack more slowly. They are just as addicted to the ideology of austerity, they just want to be a more sedated version. Which is probably why we hear so very little of any substance from them. We don’t have an opposition, we have a complement.
The light in all of it for me was the advancement of gay rights which took place under Labour, to an extraordinary degree. The Conservatives have certainly brought more poison maggots out of the woodwork whenever any such progress is mooted, but even they have brought forth same sex marriage as a legally recognised thing, which probably shows the kind of changes that have taken place in society.
On the other side, the Conservatives have behaved with the kind of amoral self-interest in various areas that we have come to expect of them. I would think it madness to not acknowledge their committedly damaging nature.
I have never been an advocate of not choosing the lesser of two evils. Life has too many evils to not have some knack at hedging your bets and biding your time. But I feel a sickness, a moral fatigue, at even this much feigned belief, at wheeling out the utilitarian, cynical little place in that leaden show time.
I haven’t felt like this in really a very long time. This really isn’t enough to justify participating and grudgingly accepting that it is how things are, and what we always do, and the most responsible thing under the circumstances.
Not that I don’t think that even a manipulated, neutralized vote is better than no vote. It isn’t even 100 years since we had absolutely fuck all. But I cannot remember when I last voted for something I believed in, rather than something I might be pleasantly surprised by, or just resigned to.
Maybe I’m just not very good at this game, that wouldn’t surprise me. But where the fuck am I in all this? If a party I would genuinely vote for has no chance of getting represented, to the point that voting is a tactical duty rather than a representation of my ideals and views, just wtf man.
I need more than that. It’s not that I don’t want to play, I just don’t want to play that game.