Just as I feared, Andrew Marr presided over the end-times of modern politics.
In the same unflinching manner that has served to identify him as one of this nation’s leading political commentators, Marr cornered Theresa May. Please don’t use soundbites came the rallying cry – the voice of a nation laid low by a tumultuous twelve months. Please, we begged, anything but strong and stable leadership.
The eyes twitched. May’s voice quivered in the carnal heat of the moment – how does one express artifice without artificial comments? It took her around 30 seconds to revert back to type – and those 30 seconds were so excruciatingly uncomfortable that we longed for strong and stable leadership once again to guide us through this M25 pile-up of an interview.
I’m not so pretentious as to assume that this brief exchange was a metaphor for modern politics – that’d be too simple, right? For if it were, what does that really say about our chances of salvaging something from the wreckage of this post-Brexit counter-rational age? If our chief negotiator can’t speak in anything else but the muddled verses composed for her by a PR team whose very existence relies on clarity, it’s probably time we found a new one.
In the short time that I’ve considered myself ‘politically aware’ (a phrase that implies my knowledge isn’t just thinly concealed resentment about being in debt) I’ve always supported the Conservatives. There’s your stick – please try and finish the article before you beat me with it.
Since re-election in 2015, the Tories have tried damn hard to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. A series of embarrassing reversals and a botched job in several public sector arenas culminated in big Dave thinking that, instead of leaving it to politicians democratically elected to speak for the public, he’d auction off the economic, political and social security of this island to the actual people in a *shudder* referendum.
People who read the Sun in a non-ironic sense. Or read it all actually. People who flock to the seaside on a bank holiday and then spend the duration complaining about pretty much anything they can. British people – the only race in the world to dramatically alter their consumer habits off the back of a 5p surcharge on plastic bags.
You can’t trust these people Dave. But, let’s not cry over spilt milk (I spent most of the summer doing it anyway). Brexit happened and now we’re having an(other) election in five weeks time. Jeremy Corbyn has already come out and encouraged young people to vote – what more persuasion could you possibly need? So, let’s meet the candidates to guide us through a situation which none of us wanted but somehow was popularly elected.
The Tories aren’t going to change. They shake your hand, with their fingers crossed behind their back. They’re the sort of people who cancel their subscription to Tatler, only to then complain when they can’t read Tatler anymore.
The Liberal Democrats were, until very recently, a mildly amusing joke. They’re the Arsenal of politics – they say all the right things but still finish fourth.
Labour – where do I start? In one of the year’s most stirring speeches, Jezza Corbyn recently said Labour might not lose. Well, that’s reassuring. Someone drop him at the British Legion Club where you found him. Then go away and have a nice long think about why socialism doesn’t work (Googling communist Russia might be a start).
UKIP. You got what you wanted. Then you got Trump too. So fuck you very much. Last I heard, Farage is out fishing in the North Sea for the £350 million you promised the NHS. Go and give him a hand.
Green Party. I mean, it’s a lovely idea. Only problem – it doesn’t actually work. I suppose that’s true of most of modern politics, so you’re probably onto something here, but you’ve got to at least convince people it does.
So where do we go now? Somewhere very far away was my immediate reaction, but in that Blitz spirit I might as well see this one out. Our culture of instant digital gratification is probably to blame – my reaction when Brexit happened was to publicly blame it on racist, Northern, uneducated pensioners. All 17 million of them. Seems unlikely, somehow.
One thing is for sure – young people need to get out and vote. Read, learn, procrastinate, do whatever it is that makes you all so weirdly opinionated when it comes to politics. Use it and abuse it – knowledge is power and power is the voting booth. Brexit happened because we, as a generation, refused to believe that this country would change. We lost ownership because we weren’t represented – for their sins (and they are numerous) older generations turned up to vote and made a change.
Who do you vote for? Well, my detailed explication of each party’s current state probably doesn’t brim your soul with joy. I’m as rudderless as you probably are at the moment – but my rallying cry is debate. Starting with the debate on whether we should place a nationwide ban on the words ‘strong’ and ‘stable’, with an immediate relocation to the disorientating wilderness of Doncaster as a sanction.
Seriously though – ask people what they think and why. It can’t hurt, especially if you’re as clueless as I currently am. Who knows – in that old adage that once defined universities, you might actually learn something.