Election Section - Voting Day!

It's the last post in our General Election series and fittingly it finishes on the 6th of May, the day when the UK polls open - go vote!

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At 11am the big yellow bus, with the faces of Nick Clegg and Vince Cable pasted on the side as though cut from a James Rosenquist mural, arrived in Eastbourne. This was the Liberal Democrats’ election ‘battle bus’, which the major news outlets paid £500 per day for their reporters and photographers to be ferried around to all of the Lib Dems’ major campaign events on. It begs the question of why the news outlets go looking for news at all when the political parties are willing to drive the press around from one staged photo opportunity to the next. In fact, they often don’t. It all makes sense in a perverted, back-slapping kind of way.

Dazed didn’t care to stump up the cash to get aboard the equivalent of what John McCain called the Straight Talk Express for his presidential campaign, since not only would that have been one expensive bus ride, but the smell of journalists’ farts must surely be as putrid as reading some of their coverage. In the inner circle of political reporting, the hacks leech off the politicians for quotes, otherwise known as news, and the politicians use the reporters as toilet paper to soak up and distribute their ‘message’, so there is a vested interest in both parties not rubbing one another up the wrong way, because they have a cosy little arrangement. The only time this runs awry is when the politicians deliver an erroneous message when they don’t realise their microphone is switched on or something, and the press has a golden nugget in its palm courtesy of the silly politician (in this case Gordon Brown), who then has to apologise for making a perfectly valid statement which was only awful because he didn’t have the nerve to call the woman a bigot to her face, which he really ought to have done. Or if a newspaper decides to run a smear campaign against the candidate their owners want to lose, they will only ‘report’ from their favoured candidate’s events, and do so in a way which doesn’t even pretend to be fair or balanced.
 
During Mr Clegg’s speech, which lasted less than fifteen minutes (including Q&A) with a malfunctioning microphone, he mentioned many times that he was different from the two main parties, which earned a ripple of applause from the sea of yellow, waving placards handed out to them by the event organisers beforehand. “We can do something different,” he said, before pouring scorn on the two main parties. There was a group of girls who screamed, “We love you, Nick!” as he waded through the crowds afterwards. He avoided a ‘Mrs Duffy moment’ with a mentally handicapped man by shaking hands and moving on, being gracious and polite and ultimately vacuous by repeating the same message over and over again: don’t trust the two main parties, do something different, vote for change, etc.
 
The problem is, the more Mr Clegg has repeated the same slogans, the more he has sounded like the two main parties which he has defined himself against, because he’s fallen into the trap of doing exactly the same thing as them. He seems to believe, like the other two, that if he throws enough shit at the wall, some of it’s bound to stick. Say something snappy on the telly, get yourself a bus with your face on it, buy enough billboard space, and people will get your message eventually. In fact, they will come along with a can of spray paint and make you look like a buffoon with Elvis sideburns and/or a swastika tattoo and the word cunt on your forehead, then post it online within minutes.
 
All of this means that, regardless of the new-found goodwill offered towards Mr Clegg and the Liberal Democrats by voters, and there seems to be a fair amount of it at the moment, in order to be truly different from the other two parties they need to stop behaving so much like them all the time. Ultimately, you need to ask yourself if, by banging on about their uniqueness, maybe the Lib-Dems aren’t that unique at all. Maybe their uniqueness has just become what businesspeople would call their Unique Selling Point, and they’ve finally learnt to use it as expediently as the other two parties would, which is why they’ll do better in this election, but will still come third. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t vote for them, and that they don’t have some truly different and worthwhile policies. Maybe Dazed is asking too much for a political party to stop behaving so much like a political machine, but in Nick Clegg today we witnessed too much of the grand old style of machine politics to truly believe that ‘change,’ whatever it has come to mean, is that much closer.

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