Okay. Today's cartoon finished and posted. Now time to write some words...
Another of the many frustrating parts of the election coverage is the way the media seem to be giving the most attention to the generally slack jawed and indifferent. I suppose it's 'news' that some people have no interest in politics but I'm not sure it's really important news. It's certainly a fact not worth repeating in every single news item.
The always excellent Emily Maitlis spent a good portion of last night's Newsnight wasting her quality heels wandering around some London hotspot asking smirking idlers about the party manifestos. It reminded me of being back in school when the teacher would ask the snot-nosed gibbon at the back of the room if he knew the name of the title character of 'Macbeth'. They would give the same shrug, the same creeping smile, eyes looking to friends for affirmation that their stupidity was admirable. And last night the exercise was similarly pointless and taught us nothing except that David Cameron should stop turning his beady eye towards the north when he starts talking about the shiftless.
There is, of course, a difference between wilful ignorance and ignorance that comes naturally. I believe only one guy had read a manifesto, which doesn't surprise me or, at least, surprised that Maitlis found at least one. I haven't read a manifesto and I don't intend on reading a manifesto. Manifestos aren't meant to be read. They're meant to be brandished like a holy book, waved above the head as though you're holding Dumbledore's grimoire or, as Maitlis correctly explained, finally opened but only when you want to prove that your government has gone back on its pre-election promises.
At this election, the manifestos don't even amount to any of those things. The manifestos are written by parties who don't believe they'll get into government and therefore are promising us the earth because they know that the juicy parts can be knocked out as soon as they enter into coalition negotiations. I imagine the first words out of David Cameron's mouth the morning after the election should he win a majority would be the words 'Shit... What did we promise!?'
Which takes us back to the news.
Today The Guardian are in the nation's most apathetic constituency which, surprisingly not, is up here in the North in Manchester Central. I sometimes wonder whether these reporters are setting out to find the story they've already written. I'm constantly depressed that the media in London talk about 'ordinary' folk being turned off politics. I'm not sure how I'm not myself 'ordinary'. I know a lot of ordinary people who talk about the election. It's just that the media never turn a microphone in their direction.
There can be no real surprise why so much of the nation is turned off politics and it has nothing to do with a person being ordinary or not. It goes to the heart of why Scotland has turned so much in favour of the SNP, which I'm certain should try to get the word 'independence' into their title, if only so that we'd be able to call then SNIP. Supporters of SNIP (for that's what they effectively are and what they effectively want) are clearly a generation tired of rule from Westminster and feel particularly aggrieved when their vote does not dramatically alter the government. Last time, Scotland voted in favour of Labour but got a Tory government delivering austerity. Yet the same is true of much of northern England and Wales. One Nation Toryism really has disappeared and the last government produced a Two Nation Toryism. It's everyone south of Birmingham and then the rest of us.
What you get is a sense that large portions of the country simply don't matter in this election. Where I live, the seat was decided generations ago. I might as well not vote or vote for whoever I like because the result will be the same. I suppose it's liberating knowing that you can vote Green or go Monster Raving Lunatic without any consequences but it's also pretty depressing. It means that there's no real campaigning going on. Nobody visits us and we are left with that familiar feeling that the election is being run by people who really don't care about the people. Tonight, I notice, David Cameron won't be attending the leaders debate. It's what he wanted, of course, and he clearly didn't want to attend the two 'debates' (or pitiful excuses for debates) that have already been held. This is the first time I've thought an election was being run by politicians some of whom are even less enthusiastic than the bloody listless public. In a way, I find my opinions hardening around those attitudes rather than the policies. I want to vote for politicians who show the passion and engagement with the public. Not politicians who slyly creep around the country meeting their loyal activists and sticking security personal in the face of some brave soul who dared put a little spice into the general election sing a slightly risqué song on his ukulele.