Election Reaction (one week on)

(Written for MPower magazine.) Here 'tis:

I must be getting old. This is the first time I’ve ever felt resigned to our two-party system. I can feel all the teenage idealism draining away. Just two weeks ago I was holding back tears (I cry when I get angry…or sad…or happy…or tired) arguing about why exercising one’s democratic right should be taken seriously. And I stand by what I said then, I do, but it all just seems a bit, well, pointless.

I think it was the sense of anticlimax and slight confusion that last Friday brought with it; I quickly realised I would have to stand up, be brave and admit it: I had (correction, have) no idea what this election result really means. For me, or for anyone else. I feel like I’m reviewing a gig just after the second support act has left the stage. Anything I write now will undoubtedly come across as hideously irrelevant and ill-informed before this piece has even been proofread, or even before I’ve finished writing it. (Edit - this prediction will come true. Fact.)

I voted Lib Dem (twentysomething teacher has left wing leanings. Shocking, huh?) So I guess I should be happy. This is the biggest opportunity the party has had in recent history to actually influence policy making; in that sense the hung parliament is a good thing. So why do I feel like it’s all about to end in reputation-destroying disaster?

I didn’t vote Tory, and I probably never will, but I’m extremely uncomfortable with the fact that, at this stage, someone other than David Cameron might end up as PM. How can he get the most votes, but still not get to lead? The voting system might be (sorry, is) unfair, but surely it’s wrong that we could all turn up and vote, only for the politicians to re-make our decisions for us, behind closed doors. The undisputable fact is that Nick Clegg has got to play this very carefully. If he’s seen to be propping up the Labour party and potentially keeping him in office it’ll be political suicide. But then getting into bed with the Tories isn’t exactly going to win over the party faithful, or help to achieve the electoral reform that might actually start to create a fair system. At least it’s not my decision.

Speaking of closed doors (and we were, remember) I’m sick of 24 hour news coverage. I watched (glanced at occasionally while drinking tea and feeling hungover) BBC News 24 for a couple of hours on Sunday morning. Let’s just say: three doors, three hours, no news. Well, David Cameron returned from his morning jog and chatted to a neighbour, but nothing newsworthy enough to prevent me from turning over to Something for the Weekend.

Argh, the repeat of Coast has just been interrupted by a Breaking News piece! A lectern has just been set up outside Number 10. ‘Something is extremely imminent indeed.’ But what? David Dimbleby is about to take over the coverage, it must be important. 24 hour news, this is why you are pointless: every time something actually happens, it’s forced upon us whether or not we were wasting our lives watching the news channel. DD is now telling us about the gates on Downing St. News, you’re killing me. This is probably the least exciting important political moment ever. DD starting to talk even more slowly to fill time… He’s obviously running out of gate-related trivia. I wish I was still watching Coast. Shut up, David, Gordon’s talking! He looks pale. Sarah is hanging around behind him, looking slightly awkward, like she doesn’t know what to do with her hands. Blah, blah. Awkward eye contact and well-practised cracking voice when thanking wife for love and support. ‘Thank you, and goodbye.’ Oh god, now he’s bringing the kids out. Good thing no-one cares enough to try an assassination attempt. Kids look cute but confused. They’ve packed light, anyway. A Daimler. In a recession. Typical. DD keeps talking about executing prime ministers. Am a bit worried about him.

So it looks like ConLib. Shame really, I enjoyed the alliteration of LabLib, but sometimes democracy has to come first. Cameron’s PM. He’s driving to the palace and everything. Just because I think it’s fair, doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it. Cuts, cuts, cuts. Probably from education budgets. The Tory pre-election vagueness about where the cuts will come from suggests (and you don’t have to be a fully qualified political analyst to figure this out) that they will be painful. More sitting on the fence over Europe. Unfair tax breaks. Throwing money at nuclear missiles. My faith in Mr Clegg’s ability to influence policy is already waning…

I am, however, not one to ruin your day with doom, gloom and indecision, so let’s take a moment to remember the silver comedy lining of the 2010 General Election: the forty year old black man who had served in the Navy for 30 years. Sir, I salute you.

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