A Rush Of Democracy To The Head

I should probably be blogging about the upcoming North American release of DARK SKY. And I will. But it’s (still) not out for over a month, and right now I have more important things on my mind. Yes, more important than the US release of my second novel. I know, I know.

On Thursday June 8th the UK has its General Election, as by now I hope you would have gathered if you have any ability to vote in it. And there’s a been a whole boatload of facts shuffled backwards and forwards, and opinions raised and shouted and various things brought up and discredited. And I’m not an expert in economics, nor am I particularly well-versed in the politics of international relations, and I certainly have no expertise in countering terrorism. So I could link to the article penned by over a hundred economists worldwide who say Labour’s financial plan would be better for the country than the Conservatives’, and I could link the article from techno-security experts who claim that Theresa May’s plan to basically decrypt everything in the country would be a) virtually impossible, b) very expensive and c) probably the worst idea anyone’s ever had in terms of financial security at least since someone first said “Hey, let’s get a mortgage from the Lehmann Brothers”, and probably well before then, and I could point out that a whole bunch of people (including David Cameron and Boris Johnson, at times) have thought that bombing people in other countries is likely to lead to more terrorists, not less… but I don’t actually know if they’re telling the truth, any of them. I don’t have the expertise or knowledge to look at what they’re saying and go “Hmm, yes, valid points”, or alternately, “what a load of codswallop”.

All I can basically do is go on a gut feeling. Do I know if Labour can do what they’ve outlined in their manifesto? No. Do I know if it’s costed correctly? No. On the other hand… do I *want* Labour to do what’s in their manifesto? Pretty much, yes. Do I think the Tories can achieve what’s in their manifesto? Probably. Do I *want* them to achieve it? HELL NO, by and large.

See, that’s the thing. I might not be an expert in all the stuff I laid out above, but I’ve worked with some of the most vulnerable members of society for the past thirteen years and I know as sure as I can know anything that five more years of a Conservative government is only going to lead to more misery, more poverty, more hunger, more food banks and, yes, more deaths. Potentially avoidable deaths. Some people will undoubtedly be better off under a Tory government than under a Labour one, but it’ll be the people who wouldn’t be that badly off under a Labour one either, when you look at the big picture. I mean, as a reasonably affluent middle-class 35 year-old married White British male, I’m pretty much the Tories’ target audience. I’d probably be better off financially under them than under Labour, but not spiritually. Damn right I’ll pay more tax if I think it’s going to go to the NHS rather than to give tax cuts to billionaires and Google.

As for the rest, it’s pretty irrelevant. Sure, vote for the SNP in Scotland: hell, I’d probably vote for them if I could since they’d likely just ignore the referendum result and halt Article 50 by any means necessary. The Lib Dems could have nailed their colours to the mast on that front but they bottled it and went with a “second referendum” approach,┬áso they and their minibus full of MPs are going to continue to be a sideshow unless May winds up a handful of seats short of an actual majority, in which case we’ll see if Farron is made of sterner stuff than Clegg. The Greens are lovely (and got my vote in the last election, because I live in a safe Labour seat and besides, no way was I going with the Tories-in-red-ties Labour or the Lib Dems that had legitimised Cameron and his cronies) but they’re not relevant now except in Brighton. And I’m not going to dignify The Other Ones by naming them, I’m pretty sure it’s all just Adrian Edmondson doing a bizarre long-form comedy skit, and he actually seems to agree.

And then we have the fact that Theresa May called this election based on her huge lead in the polls and then watched it crumble away, as she tottered around parroting catchphrases that got rebooted every fortnight and meeting carefully-selected groups of registered Conservative voters, at least since she met that lady with the learning disability in a market. Meanwhile Jeremy Corbyn actually found some charisma from somewhere and began treating the whole country like it’s all his personal constituency, and people have actually lapped it up. The man’s on the front page of Kerrang! this week, for crying out loud. Not that my MP will approve: Chris Leslie might be Labour but he hates Corbyn with a passion. “I never voted for Brexit, no matter what the Lib Dem leaflets say!” he whines in his latest email. And no, he didn’t vote for it, but he didn’t vote against it either, even though he says he thinks it’s an abysmal idea that will wreck the country and Nottingham: he abstained, which is like putting your fingers in your ears, whistling and hoping someone else will fight the forest fire for you. I can’t stand the man’s self-serving brand of politics and lack of loyalty to his party, but I’m voting for him because I don’t want the faintest chance of Nottingham East turning blue. But that aside, just looking at the two leaders, you have one who called the election based on her “strong and stable” leadership for Brexit etc who then didn’t turn up to the Leaders Debate and sends other prominent Tories out to speak to the media for her, and a bloke who’s been up and down the country drawing huge crowds.

Not that it’ll matter. That’s the sad thing. Despite the sudden charisma injection, despite the rallies, despite drastically narrowing the polls, Labour are still behind. Someone worked out that if every demographic turned out to vote at the level the over-65s do, we might get a hung parliament. That’s best case scenario, for those of us who really don’t want the Conservatives in government: they might not get a full majority. But they probably will. And then two things will happen:

Corbyn will suffer another leadership challenge. And this one might work.

If Theresa May doesn’t extend her majority she’ll probably suffer a leadership challenge too. Johnson, Gove or Rudd would be my guess, although after Rudd’s showing on the Leadership debate I think that one’s less likely. And then, after the Tories got into power off the back of campaign literature that was basically “Theresa May and her friends” we’ll potentially have a new Prime Minister that isn’t Theresa May.

And we’ll be right back where we started.

So on June 9th, I’ve booked the day off work to go and watch polar bear at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park to cheer myself up. But if you’re reading this, and you’re eligible to vote, and for whatever reason you haven’t decided who to vote for yet and you’re prepared to take the advice of a speculative fiction author with a stupid haircut… please, vote for whoever in your constituency is most likely to beat the Conservative candidate.

Unless it’s The Other Ones.

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