Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Some Thoughts on the UK Election Campaign

Everybody accepts this election is unlikely to deliver an outright winner. That warring parties will have to somehow unite to form a government. So with an emphasis on the need to find what can be joined together, it's highly depressing and yet predictable that it seems to be going the other way; a drive to divide, isolate and scapegoat.

We all knew UKIP would target immigrants and blame them for all our economic woes, but that's extended into a call to refuse access to treatment to those from abroad with HIV.

The SNP are being simultaneously wooed and castigated, with the line skirting quite close to racism in that the Scots are not to be trusted with the fate of the English. We may not like it, but our democracy has thrown up this situation where the SNP are likely to be the power brokers, so to castigate them anti-democratic because they find themselves in this position even though they would rather be independent from Westminster is churlish. They have grown exponentially in the last few years because the Westminster government of whatever stripe has failed to represent their views and requirements.

And all this has further dragged us into disrepute in the week where the tragedies of migration from Africa and the loss of life in the Mediterranean has been front and central in the news, so that the politicians are forced to take time out from their carefully choreographed schedule to address the issue.

For me it highlights the two streams of political thinking, neither which addresses the other in the same terms. On the one hand you can have the kind of country you would envision, one that cares for those less well off, with provision of free health care, a welfare system that allows a dignified quality of life, a country that looks abroad to help and save lives and is welcoming to those who wish to join it by settling within its borders. Against this is ranged the simple counter, that the UK cannot afford to provide this level of rights and benefits. Everything is costed and commodified, not least human life.

Yet despite the cleft between the two, all sides pay lip service to both. Hence we have microscopic focus on each other's budgetary figures and we have accusations of selling the country short on its fundamental values. UKIP make it very clear what sort of values they aspire for the country, a very narrow and exclusive one. The Greens make it clear the values of a society they envision, but for many it is a leap too far and they are attacked for the economics of it all. Labour, Tory and Lib-Dem do have differing policies from each other, but they are all couched in exactly the same narrow terms of the debate.

Like I say, depressing and predictable. And we ain't seen nothing yet, for when the results come in and it's a stalemate, then the really vicious horse trading will start. My prediction? we'll need a second election within a year.

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