Photo © 2010

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Just history repeating...

So here we are. On the brink of one of the closest and definitely most interesting election campaigns I've had the privilege to witness. And privilege it is because despite anything I or anyone else decides to share with you the important thing to remember is that democracy is a privilege. That and the fact that if you don't vote you've got no right to whinge about what comes next! So get yourself down there and let X mark the spot!

This is my sixth voting opportunity in a General Election and looking back at my record has been an eye opener for me.

I can happily tell you what I did because I'm not in a position to either influence or discourage anybody. I'm an ordinary constituent just like you - beholden to no-one and interested only in how the lives of those around me are affected. Our system isn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination but you work with what you've got in front of you and here is where we find ourselves in the global economy of 2010.

Here we go then (with some appropriate annotations):

Age 11 I read Das Kapital - original print, 3 volumes in hardback. What can I say? I was a political geek! In a rather world weary manner which belied my age I came to the conclusion (as did Marx & Engels eventually) that communism could never work when you mixed economics with human nature. This wasn't a particularly pleasant denouement.

Age 18 I was offered a job with a lobbying company by the Dad of a school friend. I went for an 'informal chat' about what was involved and the whole experience terrified me. That much influence wielded by so few people? I declined and went on to earn far too much money doing something that let me sleep at night!

1987 - Jeez I was excited! My first ever vote. Despite all previous political tendencies I went with what meant more to me - I was an individual-ist. And a woman looking for a strong future. CONSERVATIVE.

1992 - By this time I had moved to a wonderful Norfolk village; had married my husband and was thinking that at some point the future may hold something more than just myself to think about. If there had been a Liberal candidate this would have been their chance with me. But there wasn't - it was Labour or Conservative on the ballot. Choice??? Change??? Erm, not really! Basically I cancelled out my husband's vote. I was wrong. CONSERVATIVE.

1997 - Family life under the Tories was a complete nightmare. We had started our own business (for the record I've never claimed a penny in benefit in my life other than 8 weeks statutory maternity pay) and it was quite literally hand to mouth. New Labour came along as a breath of fresh air. This was finally the promise of the society I had dreamed of in the utopian days of puberty. If you can you look after you and yours; if you can't the State is there to hold you. I was a social-ist. I believed in society. And I was a mother looking for a truer future. LABOUR.

2001 - The funniest thing about this election was when we put up a Labour poster in the window of our cottage in the centre of our beautiful village. Within half an hour there was a rap at the door. The Chairman of the Village Hall Committee was standing there asking what we thought we were doing. "If you live here you only vote Conservative!" He declared. Sad little man - ex allotments inspector for Great Yarmouth Borough Council - lived in his council bungalow - stamped on anything interesting with a polished boot. It was only by saying "stop me then!" that I managed to get the whole village planting Spring bulbs all around one Autumn - this became and annual village event. We had a fantastic playing field in that village too. On summer evenings families would congregate there to play impromptu cricket matches and all our kids grew up dodging the dangerous swings and whizzing down the helter-skelter slide. When we left a few years later The Chairman had the Playing Field Committee all to himself. On a visit back to friends we saw a sign on the Playing Field. No Ball Games by order of The Committee. A sad, sad memory. LABOUR.

2005 - My first General Election in Norwich South and my first with a choice of more than the same old three (or two in the last couple of rounds!) Our companies and our family had thrived under Labour and my view about the ethos of New Labour was unchanged. LABOUR.

Various Local Elections: In the last six I've participated in I can remember voting Labour 4 times and Green 2. Last time was Labour. I'd found out too much about the Greens.

So that's me. I have changed and I certainly wouldn't call myself dyed in the wool anything but I do tend towards a benevolence I suppose. It's my duty to society to do what I can so that more is available for those who can't. The difference between this and Cameron's Big Society is that I do it through love and choice NOT because that means the State can save a few bob!

I'm not mad keen on Flash Gordon. He doesn't inspire me in the way that (shhhh...) Blair inspired me and to be completely honest I'd be a far happier red if I woke up on Friday morning to find that the rather delicious David Miliband was poking the big stick.

But there we go. That's my voting record and as for GE2010 you'll not get wild odds on where my X is going.

Still I asked some questions and got fewer answers. Such is life. Merry Voting one and all xxx

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

The Home Straight...

Here we go then - only around 36 hours until the Polling Stations throw open their doors to a grateful public desperate to get this silliness out of the way. And silliness it is, stoked in no small part by the machinations of Mr Murdoch. He tells you what news you want to know...

Just before this electoral debacle kicked off I was listening to a very frank and insightful interview with former Sun editor David Yelland on Five Live Breakfast (here's a slightly later piece from The Guardian). In a moment of complete clarity he declared that Murdoch WILL NOT LET Cameron lose this election. That pretty much did it for me right there and then, in bed, with a cup of tea. How dare a non-UK citizen who pays so little tax in this country it wouldn't keep MPs in moats try to manipulate me! How very dare he!! For any Tories out there much of the reason you're not absolutely racing ahead on the back of all the ammo you've been handed in GE2010 is because of THAT man. Brits don't like being told what to do by anyone, let alone Aussies (or is he an American? In the US you can only own media outlets of you're a citizen - that way they can at least get some cash dollars out of you...)

And we thought Ashcroft was bad...there's loads of 'em...and they all want to use their (untaxed) money to tell us what to do. Why? for political influence obviously. It's not out of the goodness of their hearts. They don't 'do' hearts.


Anyway, local Tory canvasser called at my door on Friday night. Funnily enough when I explained that Antony Little couldn't rely on my vote partly because of the Great TwitBlock Debacle of April 2010 he knew exactly what I was talking about. Thinking back actually I swear it was a Little Younger on my doorstep. That's nice - family values in action. I think we agreed to disagree but as he stood there defending the fact that Flash Gordon had made the bigot comment ("haven't we all said something like that about someone when they can't hear us?" - Tory canvasser's words) he may have taken the discussion differently and just not told me about it.

Still, I bet the Little Tweet that evening told the world how supportive of the Tories EVERYONE was on the canvassing round on Friday night. It's just a guess, you see I don't know. I'm blocked.

So, unsurprisingly still no reply from the BNP.

More surprisingly though there's been no reply from the Green Party which I do find odd. Here's what I wanted to know from them "I have read through your manifesto for the upcoming General Election and would appreciate some clarification on a couple of issues.
Could you tell me what the Green Party plans would involve for Norwich International Airport and also for the proposed dualling of the A11? Both of these vital communication links are of the utmost import to me both professionally and personally and I would very much appreciate some detail on your policies regarding them.
Many thanks for your time..."

Maybe it's the fact that simply putting your plastic bottles in a special bin isn't good enough for the Greens. No, it goes far deeper than that. Far deeper. *Breaks into song* Think of a life without foreign holidays, think of a life without your little car... They've continually opposed any development of Norwich Airport whilst on the council and according to the manifesto want to put air travel out of the reach of anyone but the super-rich (unless it's them and it's paid for by the public purse - see Caroline Lucas - she flies everywhere!) by way of taxes. Also in the manifesto is the end of government spending on roads. Alas, all that is green is not gold and shiny. Some of it is straight out of fairy land - it can stay there as far as I'm concerned. I'm in the real world. And to all the students who are apparently queuing up to vote Green could you please all hang around for the next five years to see how you like no airport and no road travel from Norwich? Lord knows we're cut off enough as it is!

Meanwhile, here in the real world there's something else I get a bit miffed at. This whole 'Broken Britain' thing. My Britain isn't broken, it's great. Telling people it's broken is scaremongering of the highest order. I still, every day, see things to feel proud of about my country - not in a jingoistic, numpty fashion but in reality as part of a country that is an important part of a continent that is an important part of a whole beautiful world.

My country isn't broken and I'm frankly insulted that anyone thinks it is. Give people some meaning in life and watch them grow - tell them they live in a broken land and watch it descend into chaos.

That's how Big Society really works, Dave - with society. Not by Tory councils withdrawing funding from voluntary groups doing Meals On Wheels rounds.

And the Lib Dems haven't let me down. Once again they've managed the very nastiest local campaign - I particularly loved the recent leaflet showing Simon Wright gazing watery-eyed at the beatific image of Cleggy. You may try to look like an angel but I know you're not! Does anyone know what Simon Wright actually DOES? I know he lives in Norwich with his wife and that he want's to be a full-time MP but what does he DO now? The leaflets never explain for some reason.

Geez some of these people make me mad!

Can't be bothered to get wound up by the BNP (ignorants); UKIP (equally although richer ignorants) or the WRP (get a job) when there's too much seriousness to be wound by!

THE END (for today - tomorrow I'm going to tell the world, well you actually, how I've voted since I was 18 so you can judge for yourself whether I'm even worth the read!)