By this time tomorrow, I will have cast my vote in what is being called the most important election in a generation. Of course it isn’t any such thing, it is just an adjustment to the dial if power. At a time when we should be enjoying mid-term in the five year fixed term Government set up by Theresa May in 2016, we are going to the polls to give Boris Johnson a majority so that he can get Brexit done.
The British public are so weary of the election that last night the pub was packed with people watching Liverpool v Salzburg and Chelsea v Lille. I was carol singing in the Whitecross Tap – no one was interested in talking about Brexit or the election.
Politics is banned in our office and taboo in WeWork. The most important election of a generation comes down to the fervent efforts of political die-hards focussed on a handful of marginal constituencies where “getting your vote out” is all that is discussed.
Nobody talks manifesto promises on the doorstep, people talk about trust (or lack of it), personalities and images. If this is an important election – why has it been so trivialised by all the parties?
Elections destroy trust.
Until this election , I could understand the Labour position on pensions – I trusted it. It was strong on collective pensions (State, public sector and CDC). It focussed on costs and charges and it was in consensus with other parties in wanting better information for savers through a national we-based pensions dashboard.
Now the Labour party’s pension policy is about compensating women born in the 1950s for changes in their state pension ages.
As far as I hear, this policy was not discussed by Jack Dromey with his pension advisers. It was imposed from higher in the Labour party policy making team to win Jeremy Corbyn power. If this gamble fails , it will be forgotten. If it succeeds the WASPI promise will be paid for by an unscheduled increase in public borrowing that will need to be repaid. Who will pay back the £58bn is unclear.
Elections destroy trust – my trust – in a Labour party which – for all else – stood at least for fairness. That £58bn bung is unfair in its distribution and no doubt it will be unfair in the debt it passes to people still in work.
I am less critical of Conservative policy, mainly because there is no policy. I am pleased that someone was listening about the net pay anomaly and – should the Conservatives hold power, I and others, will hold feet to the fire to ensure the 1.7m get fair do’s on their workplace pension contributions.
But I remain critical of the Conservative party for failing to act on the 2015 consultation on tax-reform. The Conservative election performance has been characterised by Boris Johnson charging through paper walls on a digger bedecked in a Union Jack Flag – the Conservatives are not making any effort to take the public seriously. They are simply swamping trust with noise.
And then the sorry Liberals, who had neither the resources nor the leader to get heard amidst the noise. They had no policy resource and (at least in pensions) no clue beyond a single idea – which has not gone down that well.
They didn’t even get a place at the debates that mattered. They have been relegated to a curiosity, the Remain Alliance hasn’t happened, the minor parties lie on the floor, like shards of what could have been a valuable glass vase.
At this election there has been no vision for a better kind of politics, only a crap-shoot between two leaders who have dominated the five squalid weeks we are about to draw a curtain over.
I hope that Chukka Umanna wins in my constituency, he is a bright hope for the future, so is Angela Rayner. There have been glimpses of a kind of politics that puts decency first , but it has been swamped by sensationalist nastiness.
How do we measure this election’s success?
The success of this election will be measured for me on turn-out. If this is the most important election in a generation, the public vote. If however it is the squalid crap-shoot that most people see it, then the best we can hope for is that “fixed-term” means “fixed-term” and we don’t have to go through this again till the back end of 2024.
We need our time back, we need Christmas-time and we need time to be productive through work.
Trust and time are in short supply right now. So thanks for trusting me with your time – and I hope that when I return to politics on Friday, something will have moved on.