Well, hello there. Happy new year and all that.
I’ve broken the silence because, in the post below this one, you might notice that I said the one-off Dirk Gently adaptation broadcast on BBC4 last Christmas “very much had the smell of a pilot about it”. Funnily enough, the BBC agreed with me, so much so that it will be getting a short series in 2012. Whether the series will also be filmed in Easton, Montpelier and St Werburghs remains to be seen. Nostradamus himself would be jealous of my keen-eyed prediction skills.
In other futurology updates: a year ago, I predicted that the new government would last about fifteen months, collapsing over electoral reform. I now have three months left on that one, and the electoral reform has gone the way I always thought it would.* We will see. Nostradamus may not be quite so impressed. In slightly better news, though, we do now have the tea towel that we wanted this time last year. The downside to this: I now have to catch up on all the washing-up that’s been waiting since then.
* Despite being a Yes voter myself. No, not that Yes.
As I said yesterday, I’ve been pondering the rather rubbish choice we have in the forthcoming local elections. Checking the candidate list in the local paper, I discovered that in our ward there is a grand total of two candidates for the available seat: one Labour and one Tory. Oh, what a choice I have.
At least, if I don’t vote, I don’t have to worry about letting in any of the Nasty Parties in this ward. The reason we only have a choice of two candidates is that we currently have a hung council governed by a Tory-Liberal coalition. To try to ensure at least some slice of the pie, the local Tories and Lib Dems have agreed that neither can beat Labour on their own.* They’ve also agreed not to compete against each other; each seat has a Labour candidate, and a Tory-Liberal Coalition candidate, although of course they’re careful not to say that out loud.
Now, I know that local politics is important, and should be all about local issues, nothing to do with national politics. The current Tory-Liberal council was elected on local issues – largely, the enormous deficit run up by the previous Labour administration. Nevertheless, on Friday morning, all of the party leaders will be trumpeting their results as being a vote of suppose for their national policies. I can’t bring myself to vote for a party that wants to bring in an expensive and repressive identity-tracking database; and neither can I bring myself to vote for a party run by Norman Lamont’s old sidekick. Right. That’s my vote out of the window, then.
People always complain about voter apathy, but I’m not being apathetic here. I’m making a deliberate choice to abstain, because my choices range from bad to worse. The problem is: I want the parties to realise that I’m not apathetic. So, the plan** is: write to the candidates and tell them why I’m not voting for them. Write to the local Lib Dem leadership and ask them if they really think that their effective merger with the Tories is really a good thing for local democracy. Write a sarcastic letter to Lib Dem head office applauding their “let’s not stand against the Tories” attitude, and asking if they plan to continue it at the next general election. Above all, make sure they all realise that just because I’m not voting, it doesn’t mean I don’t care, or that I’m not interested in local politics. Let’s see if I get any replies.
* The local council follows the standard county-wide voting pattern: red on the council estates and in the Victorian terraces; blue as soon as you get anywhere near fields or big gardens; odd patches of yellow in suburban villages.
** Assuming I am not too lazy
The new Tory leader has jumped right in to the job, and is trying to persuade Liberal Democrats to cross the floor and join his party. Presumably he thinks that the Tory party itself has no hope of attracting new blood – or that politics itself is always a zero-sum game – so is trying to mind-meld. Maybe it’s working. Although there’s sometimes national-level talk of Labour and the Lib Dems working on a similar wavelength, out in the country they are usually fighting like rabid wolves, and Lib Dem-Tory alliances are far more common. In fact, my own local council – the worst local council in the country – is one.
Not only does Cameron’s plan imply he’s given up on attracting new people into politics; but it also makes it look as if he’s already given up on winning the next election outright. His current “I’m more liberal than the Liberals” positioning is paving the way for a hung parliament in 2009 or 2010. In case that happens, he wants to be first in line in the Lib Dems’ doorway. He seems to be hoping that modern politics is all about words, not deeds.* If Cameron says: “I’m a liberal!” he hopes that the voters will all believe him, even though there is little evidence for it in his present and past policies.Mind you, there’s little evidence there for any sort of true conviction at all.
* to be fair, this is after all what governments have been getting away with for the past 25 years.