Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Banana republic

The campaign has only just started but don’t you feel you’ve heard it all before? Worse still, do we seriously think we’ll discover anything new over the next four weeks?

There’s nothing to choose between the Tories and Labour on economic policy or anything else for that matter.

The small parties, the fringe groups and even the independents will do well. So will the “None Of The Above” party.

But they won’t get any MPs and in the end it’s still a two-horse race with only one winner.

David Cameron can’t possibly lose this election. He will get a majority of 25 to 30.

It would be a catastrophe for him personally, and for his party, if he achieved anything less than that given the incompetence of the Government he will be replacing.

There won’t be a hung parliament – that’s just some false hope for the Liberal Democrats, constitutional experts and reporters to get excited about.

Talk about hung parliaments takes place in a vain bid to interest us in this dismal democratic process and to pretend the Lib Dems have some sort of serious role in all of this.

Mind you, they’re a bigger threat to the Tories than Labour in the sense that they will probably hang on to most of the seats they’ve already got (barring Solihull, which will almost certainly revert to type).

They might, if they’re really lucky, pick up a seat or two from Labour. That would be a novel experience for them.

But in the end they will stay more or less where they are now, or lose a few seats to the Conservatives.

There is a bit of excitement about the possibility of mavericks, marginal parties and independents winning the odd seat or two. That is possible.

It would be entertaining to see Nigel Farage get rid of John Bercow, for instance. But by and large the odds are stacked against anyone outside the mainstream. There won’t be a powerful wedge of men in white suits after the next election, no matter how excited people get at the prospect.

It’s doubtful if even the three head-to-head-to-head TV debates will make any difference. They’ll only be watched by the committed.

And the committed won’t alter their view no matter what their chosen leader may say or do.

The undecided will stay undecided. They may conclude the best thing is simply not to vote. So while there is still supposedly “everything to play for”, there isn’t really.

The floating voters will float on past the polling stations on May 6 or cancel each other out if they do bother to turn up.

And who can blame them? Our would-be leaders will tell us this is the chance in a generation to change Britain (or keep Britain from changing for the worse). That’s nonsense, of course.

It’s simply yet another opportunity for the farce of democratic accountability to be played out in front of a paying audience whose views will not, in the end, make a blind bit of difference.

We won’t get asked what we think about the EU, for instance, or wars in various far-flung places. We won’t get immigration controls. We will still get Big Government and State interference in every aspect of our lives.

The policies of the last lot will be taken up by the next lot with scarcely a pause. Everything from the massively expensive waste that is the 2012 Olympics to the entirely unnecessary High Speed Rail Link will continue to absorb unprecedented billions.

We will still have an unhealthy health service, under-educated school leavers, cheated graduates, armies of people dependent on the state from cradle to grave.

We will carry on exporting jobs, ingenuity and hope. We’ll carry on bunging bankers big bonuses and sending our soldiers into battle without adequate equipment.

David Cameron may be urging us to vote for change and it’s almost certain that we will buy into that. There will be change – there will be new faces in Government, new faces on the back benches, new faces in Opposition as well.

In 1997 lots of people felt a new wave of optimism when Tony Blair led Labour to their triumph. Many people felt things really could only get better.

There is none of that optimism now. We all know things are bound to get worse whoever is in Downing Street, in office but not in power.

A Cameron victory will be welcomed by many people. But they won’t be putting out more flags and dancing in the streets.

There will be change but no difference. We are like the people of a banana republic gazing on resentfully as the limousines of the rich and powerful sweep past in the days following the latest coup d’etat.

At this election, we will get a change of Government but the more it changes, the more it stays the same. The words “deckchairs” and “Titanic” spring to mind.

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