Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Meanwhile... back at the farm...

While all this has been going on, back in my home country we're having an election.

Not the kind of election most people get excited about, where you might have an outside chance of changing the government. Nor the kind of election that it seems from away over here my compatriots would rather enjoy at this stage, with greedy, self serving MPs swinging from every lamppost.

No, it will be one of those elections people don't normally bother to get out of bed for. Except tomorrow, I rather think they will.

We (or rather they, as I missed my registration) are voting for local government councillors and members of the European parliament... I'm ashamed to say I don't know who my MEP is. This sort of thing would normally attract a turnout of about 20% of the electorate, in a good year. Tomorrow I hope it will be massive. The opinion polls don't really know how to read it: bad for Labour, the party in power (a massive recession followed by a huge scandal... lovely!) but possibly also bad for the Tories (umm... what's different about them on policy?... errr....).

One curious thing over the last 20 years or so is that there has become essentially no difference in policy between the two main parties: both agree with more privatisation, even of social services like the NHS, deregulation of business and financial services (and we now know how well that has worked out) and increasing authoritarian control.

We haven't, so far as I am aware, ever had a national debate about whether we wanted these things (in fact I seem to recall all parties insisting that they were NOT trying to sell off the NHS, the London Underground, schools, the Post Office, while all the time the creeping tides of privatisation lapped ever higher around them).

But where there is no difference in belief, parties have to compete on their competence and honesty. Nobody's debating what the government should do, just whether party x or party y will manage to do it without leaving top secret information on the 7.15 train to Waterloo, and without vastly enriching its MPs at public expense.

The Labour party has failed on both counts, but the Conservatives have been equally corrupt, and show no signs of being any more efficient.

So it's an interesting election all right. I wish I was there.

No comments: