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Posts Tagged ‘General Election’

I realised we’d reached peak politics at Hill Towers when Geoff and I sat down for supper and I looked across the table expecting to see Laura Kuenssberg.

I need to get a life, I thought. I must turn my back on the 24/7 drip-drip newsfeed.

It’s not hard to understand how the BBC’s political editor has become so much a part of our daily lives: after all, she and her politically inclined colleagues on TV – and on radio – are as familiar to us nowadays as our own relatives. Just like family, I’d say, were it not for the fact that I can turn them off.

Meanwhile, their insistent presence means I have little chance to fantasise about how it must feel when the media world isn’t going demented and foaming at the mouth with newsflashes and convoluted statistics.

The post-election mayhem (forgive the unavoidable pun) caused us all to become political pundits as we unravelled the knotted threads on the cat’s cradle of governance. The words ‘Oh, but surely not . . .’ froze on our lips as one unbelievable denouement followed another, occasionally even overlapping to create the new phenomenon of The Great British Double Denouement.

It will pass, Geoff said sagely when I expressed alarm. He’s right, and it will, but there’ll be bumping and boring along the way. Especially the boring.

Some of the bumps come sugar-coated with a little hilarity, the reward for staying engaged with the unfolding events: Theresa May, for example, apparently admitting that she had resented and disliked having to repeat the phrase “strong and stable government” ad nauseam whenever she gave a pre-election speech or answered an interviewer. (Memo to self when I am in a similar position, for that day will surely come: do not slavishly follow the edicts of ‘advisers’. The world doesn’t end if there is a little drift off-message from time to time. Be brave! Be bold! Break free from the shackles of dull old convention!)

Not quite as hilarious but still a little troubling, was a shot of Boris Johnson wearing a fleece (as you do, in June) in fetching shades of lipstick pink and lavender. Trust Boris to provoke another of those ‘Oh. but surely not . . .’ moments.

Trust Diane Abbott to give us one, too, when she suffered what was presumed to be a tactical illness for the purposes of damage limitation to the Labour cause.

In truth, Diane Abbott, she of the mis-speaking and the unreliable memory, inadvertently leavened the whole election campaign, helping to make many of us feel that politicians really can be more human than the robotic autocue-readers we’ve been used to. (Memo to self when I am in a similar position, for that day will surely come: do not allow myself to be set up by bullying interviewers and remember that a smile, a shrug and a swift “I can’t remember but I’ll let you know later” would cut it with most viewers and listeners, especially if followed by “Hey, look at you, reading your questions from a crib sheet!”)

I suppose we might have known that when hustings include such candidates as Mr Fishfinger and the intergalactic space lord, Lord Buckethead, the outcome would be unorthodox. But this unorthodox? Trust Britain to go completely over the top. Now we just have to sit tight and hope we can cope with life on a new battlefield.

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HERE we are, eyes wide open, slap-bang in the middle of open season for making wild promises. In other words, we’re entering the final straight towards the General Election winning post.

It is just remotely possible that some of us may not describe these extravagant gestures as actual promises but fanciful whims plucked from a bottomless box of tricks. Other people, of a more savvy political bent, would prefer us to believe the manifestos offer nailed-on certainties to enhance our future lives – if only we will vote for whichever party happens to be hoodwinking us at the time.

Whether you are a believer or not, and whether your cynicism is of a height that ranks alongside mine or is at a more reasonable level of circumspection, there is no getting away from the fact we are being offered an awful lot by all the parties.

There will be austerity and the certainty of cutbacks in some areas, it’s true, but it is in general a menu of jam today, jam tomorrow, and optional clotted cream to plonk on top, provided your cross goes in the right place.

How to choose from this alluring spread, this buffet of the vanities? It’s tough, isn’t it? You either dare not think about it too much or you’ll go bonkers and so go with the same bunch you’ve always tended to go with, or you get down among the facts and figures and create your own algorithms to see which party will be best for you, your home, your livelihood and your way of life now and in the future. Sadly, either way could send you bonkers, but because we live in a democracy at least you can choose your route to a troubled conscience and disturbed sleep patterns for the next five years.

Never mind the TV fandangos and the subsequent shallow talk about someone’s less-than assured performance or another’s insincere posturing that surely betrays something deeply insecure: a proper debate would have been nice. I mean proper in the sense of a good old-fashioned political slanging match of sound and fury, not this polite standing around looking for all the world like a bunch of over-dressed delegates at a lectern convention.

Come on, get stuck in there! Let’s have some zeal and some passion and see what you’re made of in a hot-blooded exchange of verbal blows! Who knows, you may even, in the heat of the moment, speak with sincerity and not just trot out some well-rehearsed party PR-approved lines.

We don’t get that, though, because it’s not slick enough for telly purposes, which is all about the visual impact, never mind the substance. On the radio you get a bit more of the slugging-it-out scenario, but even then the anxious voice of the arbitrator, the man or woman in the middle, is constantly interrupting for fear of the plot being lost in what sounds like a rowdy classroom of bickering fourth-formers. Crashing the pips is an ever-present dread among radio presenters and producers, so you can hardly blame them.

Overall, though, the daily election campaign charade is nothing if not tame. To my jaundiced eye it’s so stage-managed and tightly ordered by behind-the scenes machinery – consisting of frantically pedalling trick cyclists, trained in PR and image presentation – that I steadfastly refuse to believe anything I’m told. I read a lot, the background to the news stories and much of what the political commentators and columnists write each day, so I’m not exactly uninformed. I just don’t like being gratuitously misinformed – and I bet you don’t, either.

 

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