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Elections, politicians and babies' nappies

 
Today is a day of reckoning, whatever the outcome of the vote. 
 
Most voters don't vote people in; they vote people out and so it's fair to say that change is in the air. It may not be the change you'd like to see but it is what is possible within the boundaries of the political system.
 
Labour is suffering from political wear and tear, having been running the show now for over 13 years. The irony is that they have been, to great extent, running a policy based on the ideological framework laid by the Tories when they last came to power. No wonder then that Gordon Brown was a pretty happy chappy when photographed with M. Thatcher in front of No. 10 a while back. He had a smile as if saying 'look everyone! We are the natural heirs to this lady's policies!” ...and so they were. Differences remained of course: they still spend more on public services regardless. 
 
There's a tendency to blame government for the current crisis, but the crisis would happen regardless of who would be in power. The mechanisms that brought it about are well beyond government and yet they are at the core of politics, ie, they are at the heart of prevalent ideology. Were the Tories in power and the costs would be far more palpable.  
 
The Tories now want to portray themselves as the heirs to Blairite Britain, an image that Cameron is very keen to put across. So they came up with a slogan: The Big Society. The Big Society is a rather abstract concept and one that the Tories didn't manage to explain, nor did they ever intend to. Even the party supporters wearing the t-shirts with the slogan had no idea what it meant. This is not just naivety, it is plain ignorance too. While a few anecdotal examples were provided such as parents having more say on how schools are run or getting people to change local policies, the reality is that they appear to be a smoke screen - for one, they are mostly unworkable and, two,  they pave the way to get rid of whatever public services are left. Thus, the reliance on your mates, family and immediate community will become paramount to avoid complete destitution. 
 
Enter a new kid on the block. The Lib Dems who for the first time have got some fair representation through the air waves,  became the instant winners and the revelation for the electorate. For everyone who is tired of both Tories and Labour, the Lib Dems encapsulate something new, fresh and youthful. Nick Clegg, under all the media attention, went out of his way to say that he would not work with Gordon Brown.... this is certain to take votes away from him as it is the undecided voters that are propelling the Lib Dems and it is certain that the undecided are on the Left, not on the Right. 
 
 
 
The hung parliament sounds an interesting proposition and a plausible one. Despite all the reassurance that this may offer to a tired electorate, cynical of politicians, this power sharing comes at the worst time: whatever the outcome, this country is in for a bumpy ride. The national debt is huge, and without clear economic policies, there's a fear that the rating of the borrowing will face downgrading much like in Greece, Portugal and Spain. Assuming the Tories and Lib Dems share government, this will not last much more than two years, upon which a new election will be called. 
 
Closer to home the RBKC has been run by the Tories ever since it came into existence. That's 150 years or so. Despite that, the local Tories have shown a complete lack of understanding regarding Portobello; further up the road, something pretty dubious and yet unclear is happening in the Wornington Estate. Long periods in power bring contempt and arrogance and this is true at local level too. The local Tories are not into the Big Society as it is implied by Cameroon; they are more like into Big Government. Their Big Society seems to be the one of the Big Money kind where large interests take precedent over public wishes. It suggests what will become of the Tory slogan. 
 
One huge problem remains however: most people don't engage with politics because it is uncool. To say ' I'm not into politics' is something that I hear again and again. Yet politics is an everyday thing, in how we act, our outlook, our idea of social organization, our perceptions of right and wrong, our ambitions, etc. These are an intrinsic part of politics. Then there are the many ways of thinking that define any given moment in history and the ideological framework that defines it. When people deny that they are political beings they are, through their own naivety, exposing themselves to exploitation and abuse. If people don't realise the deeper fissures between the choices available, they become puppets to sound bites and airbrushed images. That is the real problem and this election, despite the public interest, is no different. 
 
As the election campaign went on, all these contradictions were all too irrelevant to my 3 month old baby who cried his heart out every time his nappy got dirty. It made me realise, that politicians, much like baby nappies, need to be changed regularly for the exactly the same reason. 
 
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