It’s only politics

The great orators who rule by the brilliance of their eloquence are in general men of the most mediocre political talents… they have always more noisy words at command than you.

E-Day minus 1. Fewer than 24 hours to go until the polling booths open, the retired civil servants and constituency party faithful sharpen their pencils and get their rulers ready.

As usual in these last few days, the campaigning is ramping up and the leaders of all the parties are putting the miles in supporting their candidates in constituencies the length and breadth of the land.

One of the things I find odd about our electoral system is the way that there can be a split between what happens at a local level and what happens in Westminster. There are some excellent local constituency MPs who work long and hard on behalf of the people who voted them in, and then there are those who probably couldn’t find their constituency office if you gave them the address and Google Earth.

I’ve spent a lot of cold, rainy Sundays bonding with our local MP’s wife, huddled under umbrellas at the side of windy rugby pitches. Do I want my friend’s life to be made more difficult by her husband losing his job on Thursday? No. Is that a good enough reason to vote for someone? I’m not sure.

I know plenty of people who would like to vote for someone who has served as a really good local MP, yet who don’t actually want the party that person represents to be in Government.

The opposite is also true. There’s one seat I know of which, by rights, should be a Tory walk-over but which is actually considered a marginal this time round, so royally has the sitting MP messed it up. This MP – sorry, prospective MP – recently went on one of those round-the-constituency-trips, ending up at the primary school a friend teaches at. Primary school – remember that. This person hardly answered any of the questions the children asked, those they did were clearly stock answers, cleared by the party spin-doctors and the main thrust of the speech was about the importance of clearing the defict. The defict. A speech about the defict. To seven year olds.

Still, there have been some gems thrown up this time. The picture of Ed Milliband trying to talk politics with Russell Brand would be laughable were it not so cringe-worthy. Nigel Farage berating an audience for being “typical BBC left-wingers” instead of debating with them. Milliband, again, running for cover metaphorically speaking every time Nicola Sturgeon opens her mouth.

The best, to my mind, is the picture above. With all the heckling and jeering and insults that electioneering usually brings, this is polite, measured and witty. It’s genuine, by the way, there’s no Photoshop involved. I know this because it’s just down the road from me.

Following this up in a close second place is Nick Clegg’s rather fab response to a TV presenter asking him if he thought the new Royal Baby could prove a boost to the Lib Dem votes – “Get some perspective and get a life”.

Well, quite.

Whatever you think of any of the parties, make sure you get out there tomorrow. The granting of universal franchise was hard fought in this country and others. It’s too important not to bother with.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

Check Also


Reclaim the night

Because the night, belongs to lovers Because the night, belongs to us I’m going to …