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Pardon me, that’s not my beloved
DOES anyone truly love a political party? A letter writer to this newspaper accuses me of cheering on “my beloved Labour Party”.
Hang on a minute, apply those brakes and do a tyre-burning skid of the sort so often pointlessly executed on Top Gear – that is quite an inference.
The relationship between your columnist and that political party is a remote one at best: I have never been or will ever be a member of that party, or any other, come to that. My only beloved shares a home with me and is usually to be found pottering in the garden at all hours.
Perhaps ‘beloved’ was just a turn of phrase from one annoyed by my comments on the petrol crisis caused by the Government (or not, if you happen to be the letter writer in question). But this ‘love thing’ got me thinking.
While my vote has usually been posted in the suggested direction, it has been done with little love and a heavy heart, apart perhaps from that happy dawn when Tony Blair shone supreme; and how quickly that day drained.
It occurs to me that people don’t love political parties so much as hate them. By this I mean that antipathy is more of a driving force than affection. Given a choice at election time, we do not rush with ardour towards one or other party. Instead, we glower at what is on offer and arrange the parties or candidates in order of annoyance. Those who irritate us the most are eliminated, leaving us with a choice smudged with the thumbprints of indecision.
In this way, the Conservative Party has always been the greatest influence in what passes for my political life. Disliking that lot has seen me through, without the need to feel the love elsewhere.
Ed Miliband will have to do a bit more wooing before I go head-over-heels in his direction.
You could say that a general sense of such wariness got us where we are today, in that the voters at the last General Election did not appear to want anyone to win outright. The most successful party on the day couldn’t swing it alone, and so went into a deal with the least successful party; and the Coalition was born.
Everyone will have their own view on how this hasty marriage of convenience is working. I would say that what we have is a Conservative government propped up by Lib-Dems who couldn’t believe their luck at being allowed to have a go at this governing lark.
Is it just me or do the Lib-Dems look like the weedy boys who congregate around the playground bullies in the hope they won’t be hit?
Anyway, for the last word on this political love-in, let’s travel to the Burgundy village of Donzy, which has long mirrored the voting pattern for the whole of France.
Looking to the forthcoming presidential election, one voter, quoted in a Sunday newspaper, said: “To be honest, I’m not convinced by any of them.”
There you have it: the lack of love is not confined to this country.
• IF I begin a paragraph with the words “An interesting report from a think-tank…”, I suspect that anyone still hanging on to this week’s column will let go. But hold firm: this one does make a good point.
The thought-receptacle in question is IPPR North, which argues that the UK economy would be £40bn better off if the productivity gap between the north of England and the south could be halved.
Economics is far from being my thing, but surely it makes sense to encourage growth in the north, rather than ram-packing more wealth into the already rich south. That is a bit of a caricature because parts of the south are poor, too; but the point remains: too much focusing on the south risks forgetting the rest of us ‘up here’.
This, by the way, is the technical term for that large and lovely part of England in the bit before you get to Scotland.