It’s politics time. If there’s one good thing about politics in this country, and that’s probably not a bad guess, it’s that our elections are relatively quick. American elections are incredible, billions of dollars, usually over a year in the public eye, all for the next guy to fuck you over. British elections tend to have much less money. They’re also a lot quicker, though there was election talk a few months ago, things will only get serious around a month before the big day. So if you want something to be grateful for, the fact this filthy cesspit of lies, hate, and broken promises only lasts a month is probably it.
There are a few things different about this election, some good, most terrible. Let’s start with the good.
Five years ago Britain saw an enormous shift in the way politics was done. For the first time in our history, political leaders would debate their ideologies on television. The two main parties gave us their usual rubbish and no one was much surprised. Then something happened. A man named Nick Clegg came out of no where and actually impressed people. He had the PR savvy to write down peoples names so that it at least looked like he was treating them like humans instead of walking ticks on a voting card. Overnight he dragged his party from relative obscurity to being a major contender. We had dared to change. We put our political leaders in the spotlight like never before. That, combined with someone knowing what they were doing, changed the political landscape.
Because of those events, we have had a coalition government for the first time in a while. and that was a big deal five years ago. Five years on and it’s actually gone quite well. Putting your own beliefs and desires aside, we’ve had a right wing conservative party in charge, rained in by a center Liberal Democrat Party.
That brings us to now, a few days before the election. Anyone that’s been tracking this will know that it’s almost certain no party will win an outright majority. Unlike five years ago, this isn’t coming as a surprise. The surge of the Scottish National Party has been a talking point for a while, Nicola Sturgeon Pulled a Nick Clegg after being invited to the televised debates. If you’re left wing, I imagine you’d find a lot of their policies tempting. The Scottish National Party are a big player in this election, they’re also part of the reason we’re guaranteed a coalition. While it’s looking likely they’ll be one of the parties leading a government, they’re not the entire reason for this game changer. The past few years have seen the rise of the extreme parties. The Green party are an extreme Labour party, and their membership has overtaken that of the Liberal Democrats, as well as our next extreme party, the United Kingdom Independence Party. This party are an extreme Conservative party. So why are we seeing this? One could argue that the two main parties for the last few decades have increasingly merged into the middle. One party takes the helm for a few years, enacts policies that enrage the other party, but when the other party gain power, they don’t retract any of the other parties policies, just carry them on in silence. So we’re left with people feeling disappointed with the parties they follow, and longing for parties further away from the center.
So that’s the good. Politics has diversified. Your vote doesn’t seem wasted if it doesn’t go to a main party, and that’s getting more people engaged in politics. But it’s left the major parties desperate. And when people get desperate, they get nasty.
Our political debates have increasingly turned to flinging dirt, instead of any positive messages. Instead of politicians, we find ourselves looking to others, often celebrities or people in the public eye or celebrity activists. We look to these people as they seem to offer more clarity than politicians. They will certainly get more attention. But how much should we listen?
Russell Brand has transformed into a discusser of politics and makes many good points, but there are a few dark shadows over his head. He’s been very open about his past drug abuse, many people can relate to that, many people can be inspired by that, many people will have a hard time listening to someone make mistakes then preach about others living their life right. That’s usually the easiest way for people to object to him. I find an even bigger problem with Russell Brand. His Trews pod-casts often talk about redistributing wealth, and the opposition of greed. Yet he will make money from his Trews pod-casts. He will make money from the t-shirts he sells on his website. His website states that money from the shirts goes to charities. But the shirts are adorned with logo’s of his pod-cast or the name of his book. All this helping to strengthen a new brand he’s created. when asked on twitter where the profits from his book go, he said they will build a ‘Trews café’. we’ll ignore the further brand strengthening and wonder how much you need to open a café. Most people starting a business don’t have book sales to jump from. I don’t want to have a go at the man, I’ve just learnt to question everyone’s motives. After all, even if everything he makes from his pod-casts and books go to charity, he’s still making money from people to give away instead of using his own fortune. A millionaire making even more money from average people. Sounds familiar. The reason he tells people not to vote is because he’s not selling utopia, he’s selling books. Telling people to vote for what they believe in just isn’t a strong enough opinion to keep a public profile and book deal alive. Complete rebellion? now there’s something a bit more interesting.
I really want to believe in Brand and his message, which is why I wrote so much about him. I’d love for people to prove every one of those points wrong, I’d love to have a discussion with the man himself and find out what goes on behind such divisive press. The next celebrity meddler isn’t quite as intriguing. That’s why he only gets two sentences.
Frankie Boyle is another person with many great points. If you can handle someone who makes brilliant points on Immigration but gladly makes jokes about a disabled child raping their own mother.
That brings us onto immigration. A problem not rooted in racism, but in scapegoating. The United Kingdom Independence Party grew because of their stance on it. They saw a genuine problem in society, then created another problem instead of a solution. The other parties saw that it was a vote winner and followed suit. It’s grown to the point where the United Nations picked up on a column by Katie Hopkins calling for migrants drowning on boats in desperate search of a better life to be shot. Do you think they were concerned about another person successfully making money and a career from extreme and divisive opinions? They weren’t. They were concerned that our major media outlets published and thereby encourage such ridiculous discussions. They were concerned that our major media outlets were behaving in patterns similar to that of the Nazi’s.
I have an experience with immigration. When I was on work experience with a friend of mine at a boat yard we met a man from Sri Lanka. In a time when most young males would avoid signs of affection for fear of being bullied, my friend and I would always hug each other when we met up. I recall this man from Sri Lanka telling us that he didn’t see that a lot in England. That peoples unwillingness to embrace each other was unpleasant. That me and my friend hugging when we greeted each other reminded him of home, and he liked that. That’s always stuck with me. I hug anyone that wants a hug now. I’ve never been scared to hug a friend. I’ve never let it feel weird or wrong. I think that’s made me a better person. It’s made life around me a little more pleasant. That’s the positive impact an immigrant made on my life.
Lastly, and most importantly on the subject of immigration, how many people that disagree with immigrants moving to wealthier countries to have a better life agree with higher taxes for the rich because it’s only right they help the poor? Maybe it’s racism after all. Not from the voters, from the leaders and media outlets who create these thoughts and emotions in people then tell them it’s OK to be like that. Change the context and you’d be disgusted. If a political leader called for total abolition of benefits, of pensions, of the NHS, they’d lose your vote in a heartbeat. Guess it’s just harder to make a scapegoat out of any of those.
Like most people, I become increasingly angry when looking into politics. I get angry because we all dream of people who can change the world for the better. That’s supposed to be politicians. I get angry because at first I thought politics was supposed to be the party for you and the party against you. But there’s no such thing. No one is against you. They’re all for themselves. Left wing celebrity activists who preach about equality are still millionaires doing fuck all to change the world for anyone but themselves. At least you know where you stand with the right wing millionaires.
As negative as I sound, I don’t encourage apathy. You should all get out there and vote. Look what happened when Nick Clegg ignited the student vote five years ago. He wasn’t able to maintain a promise and he paid a price for that. But the political landscape shifted because so many people got engaged. Frankly the audacity of a majority of students who go to university and treat it as a glorified gap year then demand that tax payers foot the bill bothers me. But that’s another debate.
So yes, you should vote. If you don’t think voting changes the world, then cast your vote for the party you believe in most and go change the world yourself. I hear people say they don’t vote because it won’t change anything, I think they mean it won’t change their lives. And no, it wont. Take charge of your own life. Change your own life. If you can change the world around you for the better, that’s an added bonus and you’ll be a better person than anyone I’ve been moaning about for the past sixteen hundred words.